Thursday, March 12, 2009

Deal or No Deal - the loser? My name is Skeletor.

Having finished watching this edition of Deal Or No Deal, I have been forced to concede the horrible truth that I am Skeletor. That I am Megatron. That I am that oddball witch in Chorton and the Wheelies. I am Grotbags. I am wicked and must be punished.

My viewing of this once popular quiz show was inadvertent, and thereby so was my realisation to my true identity. I was merrily sitting on the sofa grinding my teeth against some milky chocolate eggs with little care in my small insular world with the remote too far from reach. Deal or No Deal started with the choosen contestent being a young girl whose name I really had no interest in remembering. She said she was a risk-taker, a student - or if reduce these characteristics to their base denominator: really quite annoying.

I must say I have a great dislike for students on quiz shows. I've met a few, been one myself and from first hand experience they aren't very interesting, because on the whole, they think they are. Just as I did. Often in debt from as much partying as text books (and again, I speak from experience rather than a skim-read of a Daily Mail editorial), and in any case, surely the point of being a student is to prepare one's best for the difficulties in life, rather than to go on quiz shows to see if you can skip a few steps and win a bundle of cash. All this doesn't warm me to students on quiz shows. She might have been a wonderful lady in real life, but as with all television, our bonds are superficial - we sit as lazy judge and juries. That's life, that's our relationship with the box-oh-so-square.

On she played. The board was shaping up nicely statistically. Quite a few "blue" numbers disappeared leaving a nice load of "reds". This can leave the player a little too optimistic, so I was interested to see whether she would fall for the trap of complacency and take a gamble one step too far. After all, she was a risk-taker apparently.

Well, middle of the game the risk-taker dealt on a decent figure. £17,000, when the board really was in a swing state. Naturally the game went on as if she was in play. This was my moment - knowing that there was a chance all the lovely numbers may stay and this andrenlin junkie student - might discover that she had dealt far too early.

And I was proved right. The "blues" fell away leaving her with "reds" - the top one, £250,000, remained firmly in play. For this moment, TV couldn't get any better. You see, in real life, I'm a nice gentleman. I certainly would never go out to harm anyone, or look to hurt anyone's feelings. I'm only writing this blog because I think it's rather unlikely it will be read by this lady in question - otherwise I wouldn't dare, simply because I wouldn't want to hurt her feelings. But the wonderful voyeuristic nature of television, that one way spectacle, allows our true nature to blossom, far from the fear of being exposed for the cackling, squirming, spiteful bastard I - I mean, we - are. I watched this poor girl watch the "reds" remain and the "blues" stay until I was positively rolling off my chair with pleasure. Again, it wasn't particularly personal. I don't know this girl, or anything about her really. She was no more than an archetype; an outlet for my most base assumptions intertwined around some of my personal pet-hates - in this case, students. But I was enjoying it. Very much.

Being not much of a people person, I have to say there are rarely moments of pleasure found in television. But this seemed to be a one of a kind as this girl watched the numbers vanish from the board.. all accept the 1p and £250,000 (meaning a high offer would be made by the banker that sat somewhere in between). I watched her stage grow smaller as the £17,000 she'd won seemed more and more worthless in her eyes. I watched her mouth tighten as she realised she'd dealt far too early - and that "risk taking" spirit really hadn't been proven. It was magic. To see the confidence stripped away, over a simple nature of greed. A gambler losing face. It felt dirty to be enjoy, but isn't greed a sin? Should I feel pleasure at her expense when her pain comes from not being happy with the £17,000 she'd won but the £100,000 she'd lost? Well whatever, I was lovin' it.

And there she was, at the end, with the prospect going round and round her head of having dealt too early. The banker is ready to tell her, the audience and squirming gits like myself how much she could have won...

... and then he does something he's never done before. He offered her to swap her £17,000 for the chance to choose between the last two boxes. One had £250,000, the other 1 penny. Was this to help boost the show's ratings? Only one person had one £250,000 in its near daily run - and that was back in 2007. They did need another. Was it because she was a young lady and he felt pity - I don't know, and just like Skeletor, I didn't care. I leapt from my seat, just as Skeletor would from his throne, my "win" suddenly teetering over the edge of Fail.

Sure she could win 1p if she took the gamble, but she shouldn't have that chance. She wasn't playing fair. THEY weren't playing fair! I was having my sick pleasure - they had no right to bend the rules and take it from me. The show was clearly stacking the pressure on her to take the gamble, and this would ruin it - even if she won the 1p, she'd go away knowing she'd didn't deal too early, that she proved she was a risk taker. It was lose, lose for me. Suddenly, I felt a brotherly kinship with Skeletor, as in the final act my victory was taken from me.

And she won. She won £250,000.

Now, I take solice in knowing others around the country will feel the same = particularly those who didn't get offered the opportunity who were on the show - but the fact is this always happens. It seems my win is always taken from me. Whenever I feel I get a television victory, something spoils it. Celebrity Big Brother was the last one to upset my pleasures. I watched Ulrika Johnson sulk, whine, spit and grumble all the way through 6 weeks while many of the other contestants worked hard to be fun and entertaining, and through one of those quirkly surprises, despite the odds and the situation, the ego-queen was glorified, and my victory snatched. I didn't see it coming - just as poor Skeletor never saw the turning of the tables just before victory.

TV doesn't like to offer me a win, and when it does, it likes to ensure that it ruins it just before the end. This doesn't happen to nice guys. It happens to bad guys. Evil guys. Skeletors. I never saw myself as evil. As I said, my issue with this lady was not personal beyond the fact that she was a student looking to make easy money. I'd far rather see someone who has worked hard for a few decades get the opportunity. To me, that creates a justified dislike - superficial maybe, but justified so far as the shallow bind between television and viewer goes. Same with Ulrika - if she'd proved to me she was truly up for a laugh, not bitchy and not self-focused, I'd have been happy for her to win. I've always seen myself as a nice person - okay, one who has a rather entrenched enjoyment of seeing people fail on live television, but as far as bad traits go, that isn't THAT bad is it? Well clearly not. I, like Skeletor and his minons are doomed to see our pleasures be snatched from our grasps. He probably thinks he's a nice person too - albeit a little over-focused on universal domination and the advocation of pure evil - he doesn't expect to lose at the last minute.

But we both do.

So good luck unnamed student. I hope you enjoy the money. My qualm isn't with your good fortune, but the wicked show that bent the rules - as He-Man bends his girders - and thwarting my victory.

Of course, there's always next time. There's always a next time.

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