If you’ve been on Earth for less than 37 years, you don’t know a time when "Wheel of Fortune" hasn’t been on the air. And if you ponder that for a moment, it has to be surprising that it took that long for a vernacular error to cause a stir among the show’s fan base.
On Dec. 19, contestant Renee Durette had the chance to read the puzzle in the familiar blocks in the studio, she did not pronounce the "g" on swimming, as in "Seven Swans A Swimming."
I get it, sometimes it is fun dropping the g on –ing endings on words. Yep, we in the writing and editing world may even use the apostrophe after the "n" as if I was swingin’ and singin’ and cruisin’ and bruisin’. Alas, I am not. And I will always do my best to keep the punctuation the way it should be.
I do know from friends that have tried out for the show, and reading reports from former contestants, that the people lucky enough to spin the wheel, get some money for choosing the right letter and the opportunity to guess the puzzle … they are warned. They are told to pronounce correctly the words of the puzzle.
Fans are cryin’ out, saying that Durette should be given another chance. She lost out of $4,000 and lost the chance to be the big winner on the show. Former contestants may feel the same way.
However, others said that the show producers are up front with the rules, and that the warning should be taken seriously. The show has ruled that the reading was illegal and vernacular was used.
Game shows in the United States have to be upfront and stick to the rules, or they could be taken off the air by the FCC and prosecuted for a federal crime. In 1960, congress passed amendments to the 1934 Communications Act, making it illegal to rig a TV show. Because of that move, TV game shows that are on the air today go out of their way to make sure they make the rules known.
If you haven’t seen the film "Quiz Show" involving the 1950’s game show "Twenty-One," I suggest you put that on your viewing short list.
Now, sometimes shows are edited for content and usually parts that don’t affect the outcome of the quiz or game portion of the production. Sometimes, there are research errors and shows will give contestants who may have gotten an answer right when it was called wrong another shot at winning.
It’s that other shot at winning that may be a fair option for Durette in this case. However, the rules are the rules.
CONTROVERSY: Filmmaker Spike Lee, when interviewed about the latest movie from Quentin Tarantino, "Django Unchained," said he wouldn’t see the film.
"All I'm going to say is that it's disrespectful to my ancestors. That's just me... I'm not speaking on behalf of anybody else," Lee told Vibe Magazine.
The questions come on the use of the "N" word in the film, which tallies more than 100 times. Also, according to Lee, the film offers a "disrespectful" twist on slavery.
The true measure will be at the box office, whether or not masses of people head to the theaters to watch the film this week.
Media is bombarding us everywhere.
Instead of sheltering his brain from the onslaught, Steve embraces the news stories, entertainment, billboards, blogs, talk shows and everything in between.
The former writer, editor and producer in TV, radio, Web and newspapers, will be talking about what media does in our community and how it shapes who we are and what we do.