G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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I don’t know if you guys have seen all the fawning over a competitor on Teen Jeopardy! named Leonard Cooper. He got some net buzz for the week because he almost called his collarbone his “neck bone” and because he wagered all of his $18,000 on one clue, and because even though he failed to provide the correct clue on Final Jeopardy! he gloated, by writing on the little blue screen, about winning the competition anyway. The funny part about it is that if one of Leonard’s competitors had answered ‘Dwight D. Eisenhower’ instead of ‘FDR’, Leonard would have actually lost.
So you have Leonard doing a series of sort of dumb things, but being lauded by the Net as the next Neil Degrasse Tyson. The main reason this has become blog-worthy material for me is that Leonard reminds me of the morons at the blackjack table who don’t know the rules, proper strategies, and statistical probabilities of the game but end up winning anyway and then pretend like they’re geniuses. And in this case, the crowd is cheering him on partly because he’s black and has an afro and because one of his competitors looked like adolescent Mitt Romney.
“Also, the best part of Leonard’s swag wasnt even mentioned. While the other two were punching those buzzers as fast and intense as posible. Leanord was just standing there arms crossed, leaned back as if he didn’t even care.”
“There’s nothing wrong with having a normal reaction when confronted with a modern equivalent of the Hitler Youth.”
“I’m just glad that little shit Barrett didn’t win. Watching the teen tournament is probably a bad idea, because it must be unhealthy for an adult to hate a teenager that much.”
“He made me uncomfortable. Definitely a young Republican”
“We were rooting for him all week, I’m thrilled that he won. However, I’m also scared to death of Barrett. He’s so awkwardly intense, but obviously smart, and he’s going to grow up to be a real-life Dr. Horrible.”
“I was watching this yesterday and I gotta say that the best part (other than the genius that is Leonard, of course) was seeing Barrett get punked.”
Besides what seems like a racial element at play, it’s clear that people loathe the try-hard. Kids who study and prepare and who place an actual importance on achievement are denigrated while those who seem flippant about success and achievement are considered more noble. This is Matt Damon’s character in Good Will Hunting. It’s the hipster movement in a nutshell.
What is also funny is that if this weren’t just a kid winning Jeopardy! – if it were something more important – we’d expect some wrangling over the fact that the people cheering Leonard use words like “swag” to describe him. Leonard didn’t portray swag in any way that the word is meant to describe, yet because he is black he is automatically “swag”. It’s funny how we can use those race-tinged words when describing something positive, but we can’t when the behavior is negative.