Are trash questions inherently unfair?

Dormant threads from the high school sections are preserved here.
Posts: 1501
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2003 11:12 pm
Location: Vienna, VA

Post by STPickrell »

The distinction between "pop culture" and "trash" is a fairly interesting one, and one I wish more tournaments would make (when there is room.) I'll use the VHSL series as my example since that is my biggest project in quizbowl and how some of my quiz bowl aesthetic preferences are expressed.

I think I make that distinction when I got approval for a "classic pop culture" and "current pop culture" split in the VHSL distribution.

"Classic" pop culture is defined as things that occurred more than 18 years before the state tournament date (so for next season it'd be 1990.) I figure that if today's players still consider it worth knowing something about, it has passed some sort of time test -- if it passes even more of a time test, then it gets bumped up to "fine arts" or "literature" (as in, the NAQT HSNCT in 2050 will include lit questions on Harry Potter.)

Of course some things are "artier" to begin with, so this is why Andres Segovia, 1950s guitarist, is "audio fine arts" and Elvis Presley, 1950s guitarist, is "classic pop culture." Being massively exposed in film makes something a bit more "pop culturish," so while Chronicles of Narnia are sort of "pop culture," the other works of CS Lewis are worthy of literature mention (and I'm going to guess that his works are among the most read when HS students around the state take to outside reading.)

The Grinch I'd consider at least classic pop culture, and inching along towards US Literature. (Or, would anyone consider Peter Rabbit to be pop culture?)

While I would not be terribly opposed to seeing Paris Hilton forever banished from VHSL matches (*), I believe removing Elvis, I Love Lucy, Yogi Berra, etc., from VHSL matches would make them poorer.

(*) The 2005 coaches' survey indicated support for maintaining the presence of pop culture, but there was no distinction made between "classic" and "current" pop culture. I may see if I can get that at least discussed at this year's advisory committee meeting. Bonus points if a coach and/or player whispers that suggestion in my ear.
Coach of AHAN Jr.
Posts: 1975
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2004 9:42 pm

Post by Tegan »

Matt Weiner wrote: you will eventually get a sense of why Sergei Eisenstein is arts and Robert Zemeckis is trash. There's no other way to explain it.

I agree, but after reading this debate: I find I can slay the pop culture dragon with some poisoned culture. What if I do chose to write legit academic questions, and use Eisenstein as my pop culture? I may be bending the spirit of such use of pop culture, and even insulting the Eisenstein lovers of the world, but I think my round comes out being a bit more valid as a round if I opt for an Eisenstein question instead of a Paris Hilton question.

OR ..... is this no different than trying to pass of "chicken dance" as an arts-dance question ..... or Peter Rabbit as literature??
User avatar
Posts: 15636
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2003 8:08 am

Post by AKKOLADE »

Eisenstein would likely come out of the grave and whoop your ass.