Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Reality of Life Meets Reality TV
Jerry Springer Would Be Proud!

How stupid are we? Did we forget everything we learned in grade school? Well, it appears so. A new Fox TV show, "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" premiered less than eight weeks after the initial pitch from Mark Burnett and Zoo Productions — a blink of an eye in television terms. The new game has passed some tests of its own on the way to humiliating adults and making kids across the country feel smug — the 12.2 million people who tuned in Thursday helped the family friendly show win its time slot.

So what basic knowledge have we, as adults, forgotten? Well, contestants try to answer questions from elementary school textbooks while real fifth graders stand by to offer help. Unless you're an accountant, the math is the most frightening: On one show, the pint-sized experts easily got the answer when host Jeff Foxworthy asked how many sides are there in a trapezoid. If you’re wondering if YOU’RE smarter than a fifth grader, why not test yourself with some of the questions from last week's episode. (you can even go online to take a quiz and possibly be a contestant????)...

1. True or False, Polar bears feed on Penguins?

2. If a triangle has an area of 16 square inches and a base of 8 inches, how long is its height? (4th grade math)

3. Who is the first president to be impeached? (4th grade history)
(Note: A UCLA lawyer didn’t get this one!)

4. Name the ship that the pilgrims sailed on from Plymouth England to the Plymouth Colony in America in 1620.

5. Part of a person’s sleep cycle is called a REM cycle. What does REM stand for? (4th grade health)

You can test yourself even more by checking out the official show web site on FOX.com

Okay. Can you really believe that this show is a hit? Heck, can you believe that some of us are really that stupid? Having fifth graders onstage to help the adults, as opposed to competing directly against them as the title might suggest, only increases the humiliation potential. Jeff Foxworthy, in his drier-than-toast manner, is there to stick the needle in further.

"It's fun to watch people come on and make fools of themselves," said Marc Berman, analyst for Media Week Online. "It's sort of like the `Gong Show' of game shows, in a way. It's amazingly addictive." He also requires every contestant who misses a question or falls short of the ultimate $1 million prize — everyone who has played so far, in other words — to look directly into the camera and say, "I'm not smarter than a fifth grader."

Welcome to our new world of reality "I'll make you looker dumber than dirt" reality shows. I only have one question to ask. And you better not need the help of a stinkin' fifth grader to answer it. Would you go on this show? If so, what would the top prize money have to be to get you to?

Finally, for the record, the answer to the trapezoid question was four sides.