Joined: Aug 8, 2010
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February 5th, 2011 at 11:43:22 AM permalink
Watching the show, "Million Dollar Money Drop" (which was a horrible mistake), set me to thinking: game shows are becoming increasingly sadistic. The popular theme seems to be to watch some housewife from Paducah squirm and sweat over some huge amount of money ("Deal or No Deal", etc.). We rejoice with the contestant when he wins, but we also enjoy his agony. It's like watching a public execution (albeit with a better outcome).

Stephen King (writing as "Richard Bachman") wrote "The Running Man", which was turned into a horrible movie. The premise (in the book) was that a contestant had to evade a nationwide manhunt for thirty days, after which, if still alive, he would collect one billion dollars. No one ever won--the record for survival was eight days. The same company that put on the game shows had other featured contests that were only slightly less lethal--"Swim the Crocodiles", "Treadmill" (where heart patients were put on a treadmill, then asked trivia questions, with the treadmill being speeded up every time they gave a wrong answer). In King's dystopian world, there was no shortage of people applying to become contestants--it was a chance (albeit slim, or nonexistent) to climb out of poverty.

The Japanese have perfected the sadistic game show to an art form. No one actually dies (I think), but contestants are tortured in a variety of ways, often with ingenuity that would put the Inquisition to shame. (And the prizes are pretty miniscule compared to US game shows.)

So I wonder--how long before the trap door opens up, not beneath the money, but beneath the contestant? Can you imagine a future game show in the US where death or mutilation is the penalty for losing? Do you think such a show would have terrifically high ratings, very low ratings, or something in between?
The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality.---George Bernard Shaw
Joined: Jan 4, 2011
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February 5th, 2011 at 11:57:42 AM permalink
There was a short lived game show on GSN called Russian Roulette where the contestant dropped through a hole in the floor.

Although the complete lack of injury or death on part of the contestant did not make it enjoyable to watch ;)
Joined: Jan 8, 2011
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February 5th, 2011 at 11:59:49 AM permalink
Million people drop? I like the idea.

Basically all you need is a 1,048,576 contestants, Grand Canyon, a railings-free bridge over it, and a plant making frozen hamburgers for fast food chains underneath. To make sure there always is a winner, you can either split the pot between the two finalists, or have some safety measures for the final, although that still retains some risk.
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Joined: May 9, 2010
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February 5th, 2011 at 12:09:11 PM permalink
I would never watch that
winning streaks come and go, losing streak never ends.
Joined: Jan 24, 2010
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February 5th, 2011 at 12:15:30 PM permalink
Did you completely miss "Downfall" a few months back?

Youtube link

Prizes placed on a conveyor belt would drop off the edge of a 6-story building if the contestant took too long.
Contestants were dropped if they lost (unfortunately, they were harnessed for safety).
They could also have a partner placed on the conveyor like a prize, and they were in danger of dropping.

You may also want to do a Youtube search for a terrible, horrible game show called Dog Eat Dog. In one portion, a treadmill was suspended high above a swimming pool. It would get faster for each wrong answer.

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