Scott J Drucker, Yu Gu
Hot Docs, CAAMFest, Cleveland, San Diego Asian, Austin Asian, Calgary Doc, DisOrient
A portrait of the controversial JEOPARDY champion and vocal online cultural critic.
Chu found his proverbial 15 minutes of fame on the TV quiz show staple, JEOPARDY, amassing nearly $300,000 over his 11 wins. His controversial style of play led to a backlash demonstrating the worst of the Internet, with trolls deriding Chu’s appearance and ethnicity. Self-described as an angry nerd, the champion refused to back down, confronting his detractors and speaking out publicly about the toxic elements of nerd culture, including racism and sexism. Drucker and Gu’s profile follows Chu just as his time on JEOPARDY comes to an end, leaving him to figure out his next steps as a public speaker and writer, and what this means for his wife, burdened with a chronic illness. At the same time, Chu reflects on his upbringing as the son of Taiwanese immigrants, and how his fraught relationship with his father, in particular, helped shape his complex and conflicted feelings about being Asian American in a country that still views other races as outsiders. While quietly compelling at times, the film doesn’t always successfully balance these different elements of Chu’s story, and might have benefited from additional outside perspectives to create a fuller sense of why Chu emerged as such a contentious figure, as well as the broader questions of race, representation, and belonging about which he comments.