It started early on Friday, much earlier than it normally does.
At 1:37 PM Eastern on Friday, January 5, I received the following comment in the comment moderation queue here at The Jeopardy! Fan.
“Brandon did not answer the last question in double jeopardy in the form of a question. This would have made the game a runaway for Sean.”
Over the evening and throughout yesterday, they continued.
“A big injustice for Sean.” “He shouldn’t have won.” “Therefore, he should probably not be the winner tonight.” “But I think Sean should get a invite [sic] back.” “Sean Sullivan was the winner!” “He should NOT be champion, Sean should.” By my count, there were at least twelve of them left on this site alone. None of them were approved.
Others felt the need to complain publicly to the show via Facebook and Twitter.
To these people, I have two things to say:
1) You’re wrong.
2) This is absolutely, 100%, casual racism at work.
To point #1: As was demonstrated on Monday, on the show, “Every contestant response is reviewed at the Judges’ Table during live gameplay to ensure that it is complete and accurate.” Thus, every single one of Brandon’s responses were reviewed live by the judges to ensure that they were, in fact, in the form of a question. If the judges were not satisfied, they would have gone back and made the correction. The fact that they did not make a correction means that Brandon’s responses were phrased adequately in the eyes of the judges.
Furthermore, if you’re still not convinced, you can listen to the audio for yourself. A quick “Who is” is clearly there before Kaiser.
To point #2: I am often on the Internet watching people comment about Jeopardy!, and this isn’t the first time that I have seen viewers complain about phrasing. It happens quite frequently. However, and this is the big difference here, never have I seen so many people demanding that a player should not be considered the rightful winner of a game over such a matter. It is obvious that there were viewers who, however subconsciously, felt that a white contestant had been unfairly disadvantaged in favor of a black contestant, and reacted harsher and stronger than they otherwise would have.
And that’s racist.
And that needs to stop.
I realize that it might be a subconscious bias, but that’s one reason why I’m pointing it out. Jeopardy! fans are supposed to be smarter and more enlightened than this. Let’s do better in the future.