Corporate Quiz Show Cynicism

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Just watched the last half of Robert Redford’s Quiz Show. If you watch movies on television, you see the end of them 20 times and never see the beginning. Anyway, the best thing the movie has to say isn’t about a loss of innocence, it’s about how the soldiers take the rap and the corporate mafia Dons cynically walk away unscathed to lie another day.

There is Rob Morrow’s character who disgustedly says, “I thought we were gonna get television. The truth is… television is gonna get us.”

But the best is Martin Scorsese, who as the head of Geritol laughs at Morrow’s attempt to implicate him, “But even the quiz shows’ll be back. Why fix them? Think about it, will ya? You could do exactly the same thing by just making the questions easier. See, the audience didn’t tune in to watch some amazing display of intellectual ability. They just wanted to watch the money.” He was smarter than a 5th grader.

It was nice of Scorsese to appear in a Redford film after Redford stole the Oscar he should have won for Raging Bull with a win for his maiden effort Ordinary People. I’ve always been really amused by the lengths that Martin has gone to get his mother movie roles, but hey, she was spectacular in Goodfellas.

An interesting fact about the quiz shows back then that I’ve always found amusing was that Dr. Joyce Brothers won the $64,000 Question despite the fact that the show not only wasn’t helping her, but was trying to get rid of her.

I heard her tell the story on Larry King’s radio show once. She claimed that she chose boxing as her topic because it was a relatively finite subject that she could learn everything about. Some things that I have read online say that she wanted to answer questions about psychology, but the show told her that they liked people answering questions on subjects that seemed incongrous to their background. Either way, she studied like a maniac and answered several absurdly impossible multi-part questions.

Of course, she later appeared on James Brown’s Hot Tub Party!


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