The Kids These Days

THE KIDS THESE DAYS….Using “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?” as its hook, the Washington Post informs us that game shows are getting dumber. No more opera, science and Shakespeare! But guess who they find to blame for this sad state of affairs?

Fred Wostbrock, co-author of “The Game Show Encyclopedia” and the agent for such game show legends as Bob Eubanks, Monty Hall and Chuck Woolery, blames young viewers, in particular. Since advertisers want to attract younger people, he argues, it’s not surprising that the content of quiz shows has become more frivolous to lure them.

The effect, he says, is that we might never again see the likes of such classic game shows as “Password,” in which a contestant tries to get a partner to say a secret word by offering one-word clues. “You could get ‘kangaroo’ by saying ‘pouched,’ ‘marsupial’ and ‘Australia,’ ” Wostbrock says. “With MTV and ‘Entertainment Tonight,’ do young people still read? I doubt very many would know what a ‘pouched marsupial’ is anymore.”

Christ, I’m sick of this — and I say that as a middle-aged grump who’d be only too happy to believe that the kids today are sending the world swiftly to hell in a handbasket. But where’s the evidence?

I realize the design methodology here would actually be kind of tricky, but still, can someone please get some funding for a research project to answer this pressing question? Are 20-somethings really dumber than 40-somethings and 60-somethings? Surely it would be worth a few million of Uncle Sam’s dollars to find out once and for all?