Most people in this country will never know what it feels like to be on a televised game show, but for three contestants on a recent episode of “Wheel of Fortune,” their experience during one particularly frustrating round of spins will be one they — and many Americans — won’t soon forget.
The segment in question was about a common phrase that most people know. The phrase was “Another feather in your cap,” but after one contestant wrongly guessed “another feather in your hat,” they all appeared to be stumped at what the answer could be.
The attempts at figuring it out lasted for over two minutes, and even with most of the letters on the screen, it took multiple tries by all three players, some of who either spun to the “bankrupt” spot or “lose a turn” spot, before one finally guessed the correct answer.
Not surprisingly, the clip went viral on social media and some news websites, logging millions of views as of this writing. Some sites described the segment as an “epic fail” while others noted the phrase should have been “easy” for the contestants to guess.
While taking care to point out that there’s nothing wrong with some good-natured teasing over such moments, “Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak took to the Twitter machine the day after the video blew up the Internet and shared some timely words of wisdom about how people should resist the urge to participate in Internet shaming.
“It always pains me when nice people come on our show to play a game and win some money and maybe fulfill a lifelong dream, and are then subject to online ridicule when they make a mistake or something goes awry,” Sajak began.
He then went on to talk about how the pressure of being on national TV could be pretty intense, and cause some people to worry about “looking stupid” if they don’t get it right.
“Now imagine you’re on national TV, and you’re suddenly thrown a curve and you begin getting worried about looking stupid,” he wrote, “and if the feather isn’t in your hat, where the heck can it be? You start flailing away looking for alternatives rather than synonyms for ‘hat.’”
Noting that for losing contestants, once a puzzle is solved by the next contestant they “want to crawl in a hole,” Sajak said that even though he’s “been praised online for … not making fun of the players,” he seeks to reassure them that “those things happen even to very bright people.”
He then looked to Internet shamers, and advised them against it.
“Mocking them online and calling them names” was foolish, Sajak observed, considering contestants were “good people in a bad situation under a kind of stress that you can’t begin to appreciate from the comfort of your couch.”
“Unless you’re there, you have no idea how different it is in the studio.”
Lastly, he advised people to cool their jets a bit because one day it could be them on the other end of this type of story, feeling the same pressure to get it right and perhaps coming up short when all was said and done.
“Have a little heart,” he tweeted. “After all, you may be there one day. And no one wants to be trending on Twitter.”
The man has a point. Several of them, in fact.
Media analyst Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a regular contributor to RedState and Legal Insurrection.