When in 2014 Asian-American Arthur Chu appeared as a contestant in the popular game show Jeopardy!, he quickly gained quite a reputation among the American audience. Jumping from category to category he not only won eleven shows in a row, but also sparked angry voices which to this day follow him on Twitter and other social media attacking him using racial slurs and also threatening him.
However, after he lost his twelfth game, Arthur Chu decided to use his popularity on social media to publish his thoughts on various topics, ranging from sexism in nerd culture to mass shootings and the Black Lives Matter-movement. He quickly became a regular writer, for example, for the Daily Beast, and gave lectures on these topics which made him even more popular far beyond his success in Jeopardy!.
Watch This Title
In their documentary “Who is Arthur Chu?” filmmakers Yu Gu and Scott Drucker follow Chu in order to come up with a conclusive portrayal of this man whose voice is heard by a now large audience, but who has also sparked controversy. Starting from what seems to be a reference to the game show that gave him popularity, they attempt to find an answer to the question using archive footage from Jeopardy!, home videos from the Chu family as well as extensive interviews with Chu himself, his wife Eliza and various friends and relatives.
Generally speaking, “Who is Arthur Chu?” is a fairly standard documentary focusing on the statements by Chu. While he uses the film as a platform for his various views on the aforementioned subjects, the fascination and interest of Gu’s and Drucker’s film lies within the few insights they gain into the life of Chu and how it has changed over time. Considering Chu has been, according to his own statements, a rather reclusive person, essentially fulfilling the stereotypical definition of a “nerd”, you cannot help but admire his path to breaking out of his comfort zone and the protective shell of his culture and upbringing.
Additionally, a viewer may find Chu’s disarming honesty interesting. Even though he is careful not to generalize, his thoughts about Asian culture shaping his persona and how it may be an obstacle within the process of integration should be the foundation for much discussion, which, in the end, is what he hopes to achieve.
“Who is Arthur Chu?” is a documentary about an interesting person who still uses his status as a celebrity as a platform to speak out, start discussions and cause controversy. While showing the toll this enterprise takes on his family and for himself, it also portrays a path of individual empowerment, a man’s story of breaking certain codes of behavior of how a person from a certain culture has to behave. In a way Chu is still doing what he has been doing on the game show: jumping from one category to the other and using his success for good while it still lasts.