Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Survivor was entertaining. Not to me, but to people. Still is for some people. I don't know why, it all seems like a badly scripted soap opera to me- if I want to watch people being bitchy at each other, I'll pay attention to my idiot co-workers. When watching TV, I want a tight script, hot cast, and no illusion of 'reality'. I will give to the producers of this show in it's original form the kudos they deserve: Great work guys, you came up with a decent new game show.

But this year they've crossed the line from soap opera to the 'Cops' and 'Jerry Springer' genre of pandering to the stupidity of people in a way that is actively harmful. Breaking things down by race seems like harmless fun, if you have no understanding of history or human nature. They broke things down by gender and no one complained. This is worse though, because generally gender-based discrimination comes from not giving women any power- on survivor, by the nature of the game, everyone has power, so the men can't marginalize the women in the way they might in a male-dominated society. Race divisions are different. They come from the insatiable human need to divide his fellow beings into 'us' and 'them'. When you do that, you don't see people on the other side of that line with power as respectable equals, you see them as a threat. It gets the darkest kind of human competitiveness going.

Of course in the Survivor realm, everyone is also out for themselves, and in the racially mixed tribes of the past there has been some degree of tension, but this imposes the survivor system on a much older problem. People will quickly identify with their own tribe. They will quickly steriotype other tribes. Even if within the gameshow itself the people restrain themselves from overt racism out of self interest and the awareness of constant scrutiny, this show is a cultural phenominon. Imagine the first time one tribe is beaten by another. People who identify with the losing side will complain of bias, cheating, unfair conduct. They will steriotype the other tribe. Lots of people will do this, and it will inevitably get worse as long as the show goes on (let's hope this is the final nail in this shows coffin).

See, racial differences don't actually exist in and of themselves. If you took ten kids from ten different races and raised them together in a place where race was never mentioned, whatever differences imerged between them would be purely individual in nature, and would certainly not reflect the steriotypes of the races that exist in our culture. People see what the world says about their race- including what the members of their race say to them- and then become what is predicted of them. Not the other way around. So, because race is a culturally invented thing, and because Survivor is (unfortunately) such a strong cultural force, it will cause problems. It will light old fires and start new ones. All for fucking ratings. Bunch of damn tools. My advice: DO not watch survivor, and if you need to watch it or any other show from the same network, download it without ads so they make no revenue.

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