Star-power Trivial Pursuit

The folks at Trivial Pursuit have decided to put out a new video-game version of the game. According to USA Today, they’ve hired a few celebrities to be the voices asking the questions:

Among the celebrities whose voices grace Trivial Pursuit Unhinged, a video game being developed by Atari, are Whoopi Goldberg, who will deliver arts & entertainment questions; Fox NFL Sunday analyst Terry Bradshaw, sports; cover girl Brooke Burke, people & places; former Monty Pythonite John Cleese, history; Bill Nye “The Science Guy,” science; and actor John Ratzenberger, wild card. The categories differ slightly from the original game, which has sold more than 70 million copies since its launch in 1982.

Okay, most of these make generic sense: Whoopi Goldberg is an entertainer, hence “entertainment”; Terry Bradshaw’s a sports analyst, hence “sports”. But what’s up with John Cleese doing history? What cultural algorithm is at work here? As far as I can tell, he has a British accent, which connotes, uh, old-ness, and maybe his ironic delivery will enhance the fact that the Americans playing the game think history is sort of weird and irrelevant to everyday life. Far weirder is using Brooke Burke, Photoshopped bimbette du jour of the Maxim crowd, for “people and places”. What possible semantic connection can one forge between Burke and the category of “people”?

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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