Another fine example of typical Fox programming. Could they get tackier than When $foo Attack 17? How about tackier than Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire? The answer is, unsurprisingly, yes. Basically, Fox took forty child prodigies--many of which were musical, not mathematical or science prodigies--and jammed them on a stage where half of the contestants were immediately disqualified. The competition proceded until two children were left battling for some $300,000. I think all the contestants got Palm Pilots, too. Questions ranged from the now famous "What is the square root of negative one?" to history to logic problems. Note: This information was for Battle of the Child Geniuses 2. I have seen both, but the first one has been so long ago that I can't even remember much about it.

If the above information doesn't seem to be written with enthusiasm, keep in mind that it wasn't. Like child beauty pageants, I consider Battle of the Child Geniuses and its ilk to be a atrocious exploitations of children. Sure, the prizes were nice, and maybe some of the kids did have fun, but what about that one contestant who didn't? No one ever wants to think about this hypothetical child, about his or her pain and tears. For a moment, imagine that you were mentally far beyond all of your peers. Now imagine being introduced to people within your age group who apparently surpass your mental prowess (after all, a game show proved that you weren't as smart). Humbling? Yes. Psychologically traumatic? Highly probable. Children endowed with incredible capability--mental or otherwise--have enough problems just being themselves; introducing yet another major event into their lives at such an early age has the possibility of doing some major emotional damage.

Exploitation at its finest, and while I saw this before Magnolia I immediately thought of this show once I saw the film. They generally, from my experience, tested rote memorization skills. There were a few math and similar logic problems, but our trivia based culture became evident.

An interesting thing to examine while watching this was the demographics of the children chosen. While there were a lot of white kids, no doubt, but a strangely large amount of Asian kids, and, IIRC, a lack of children of African decent and Latino origins, and others. Who won is not of importance, what is is the personification of stereotype. Ideally, of course, there would be an perportionate amount of kids per ethnicity as they have in the general populace. This was not the case. It seems to silently reinforce the "Asian kids are smart; white kids are okay; the rest, well . . . let's put them in special schools" stereotype. Or, perhaps, it's indicative of the school system's bias, where kids that live in the inner city don't recieve the education and/or recognition they deserve.

While many anthropologists think that race is a myth, but rather a scale, its application to what is, all things considered, a child's contest, like Little League or whatever, is unacceptable. But that might just be me.

Also, I noticed a lot of boys in the audience. I'll let someone else rant about that.

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