Who is Arthur Chu? For those of you who don’t know, Arthur Chu ’08 is a confident and immensely talented Jeopardy competitor who has become a widely popular and highly controversial character throughout the media. After winning eleven-straight Jeopardy matches and taking home a grand total $298,200, the third highest total in Jeopardy history, Chu became a household name all over America. His quick wit, unique strategy, and natural outspokenness have gained him the title “Jeopardy Villain.”
How did he do it? How will he match up in the Jeopardy Tournament of Champions in October against some of the greatest names in the game’s history? How is he changing the way we think about the game? That’s what independent filmmakers Yu Gu and Scott Drucker are exploring throughout the production of their documentary Who is Arthur Chu?
The small film crew will be joined by 3-time Academy Award Winning filmmaker Mark John Harris as the Executive Producer. Together, the team is working to create a documentary that follows Chu through his competition at the Jeopardy studios and focuses on Chu’s impact as a virtual phenomenon outside of the game. Besides just showing actual competition footage, the film will include interviews and comments from notable individuals including Ken Jennings, a previous successful competitor, and Alex Trebek, the game show’s host.
The documentary will give viewers more insight into the game show, as well as exploring Chu as a character. By focusing on Chu, the viewers will be able to experience Jeopardy through a more personal lens. Viewers will ultimately see Jeopardy in an up-close way that they hadn’t considered before.
Besides just illuminating the details of the game and the brilliance of Chu’s “Forrest Bounce” strategy (a strategy in which Chu approaches choosing different categories to force the opponents to switch mental gears), the film will shed light on some of the nuances of American culture and the notion of instant fame. According to the creators, the documentary will expand beyond just an interesting perspective of the show.
“We are [also] exploring such themes as: the nature of viral celebrity in the modern world, ethnicity and new media, and the American Dream. The film also examines the link Arthur has made between his success on Jeopardy as an outspoken Asian-American champion and the resulting backlash,” said producers Gu and Drucker.
By witnessing and documenting Chu’s rise to quasi-celebrity status, the filmmakers are able to expose how Chu is smashing stereotypes and achieving goals that aren’t traditionally set out for Asian-Americans. Chu has begun to use his limelight to bring attention to issues such as misogyny, nerd culture and Asian American identity.
Already Chu’s outspoken nature, sheer talent, and willingness to bring up difficult issues has brought him a plethora of Internet hate. “This is an American game,” read one comment. Many others employed racial slurs and insults aimed at Chu. Despite the nasty comments, Chu continues to excel at what he loves while shedding light on important issues.
In the end, portraying light on Chu as an inspiration is what Gu and Drucker are trying to achieve through their creation of Who is Arthur Chu? the documentary. Chu is a remarkable character who can teach everybody a lesson, not only when it comes to the strategy of Jeopardy, but also in everyday life. His message is simple — don’t let others’ perceptions of what is normal and appropriate define you; do what you want to do and don’t let anything stop you.
According to Gu, “We hope his story in this film can inspire others to push the envelope, push the boundaries, pursue your passions and don’t be afraid of what others say.”