quiz show essay

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Quiz show essay

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The executives decided his appeal was wearing thin. So they broke the news to him: He'd had a free ride long enough, and now it was time to lose. Stempel took that news very badly. Meanwhile, America liked his successor, an attractive, disarming intellectual named Charles Van Doren, who was a member of one of America's great literary families: his father, Mark, and his uncle, Philip, were beloved and respected. Blinded not so much by money as by fame, Charles had agreed to cheat. And when Stempel blew the whistle on the whole setup, a Congressional investigator brought the deception tumbling down.

Robert Redford has directed "Quiz Show" as entertainment, history, and challenge. It is fun as a thriller; we find ourselves sort of hoping Van Doren doesn't get caught. It works as a memory of the first decade in which a society that used to sit on the front porch went inside and stared at the tube.

And then it asks us what we might have done, if someone offered us a lot of money and popularity for pretending to be smarter than we were. The movie shows the sponsors casting the contestants as if they were regulars on a soap opera. The congressional investigator, Richard Goodwin Rob Morrow is a Jew who is attracted to the genteel intellectualism of the Van Dorens who, at a family dinner, play a Shakespeare trivia game.

Goodwin attempts to bring down the quiz shows on Stempel's testimony while giving Van Doren a pass - just because he likes him. But he cannot help himself; Charles himself has become such a friend that he cannot bear to bring him crashing down. In a way, the movie subtly argues, Goodwin arrived at the same casting decision as the sponsors.

The movie uses real names throughout, including the network NBC and the sponsor Geritol, which cured "tired blood" and made you "feel stronger fast". It depicts TV producer Dan Enright David Paymer and game show host Jack Barry Christopher McDonald and there is a certain fascination in the fact that the movie, to use a s catch phrase, "names names.

There are also little shocks along the way, as characters reveal that they have standards we no longer much adhere to. One executive says, in justifying the fix, "It isn't like we're hardened criminals here - we're in show business. Today on TV, so many sins are justified in the name of ratings that any other standard hardly exists.

Then, such reasoning was new. The screenplay, by former Washington Post film critic Paul Attanasio , is smart, subtle and ruthless. And it is careful to place blame where it belongs. Oh, yes, Charles Van Doren was wrong to take the answers and play the game. But he has paid for his moment of weakness a thousand times over, year after year; to this day, millions of people remember him as "the guy who cheated on the quiz show.

The network, the sponsors and the producers set him up, and then they all stepped clear when the scandal broke. The movie makes it clear that NBC and Geritol were able to claim they "knew nothing" about the rigged games, although they clearly did. And Dan Enright, the producer, was soon back at work making more TV shows. Only the contestants have continued to pay, and pay, and pay.

There is a theological belief that it is a greater sin to tempt than to be tempted, and this movie firmly reminds us of that. Now take stock of what we have lost in the four decades since "Twenty-One"came crashing down. With Charles the producers used the use foot in the door technique to trap him.

First by asking him to comply with cheating and when he did not they input a question for him to answer so that he would have to make a public commitment. When Charles answered the question it was his first step to conforming to the group think method. Charles loves the attention he now receives as a result of his new found celebrity status. Charles not only demonstrates the Lewis, Chernette page 4 same group think phenomena as Herbert, but he stereotypes Herbert.

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