Thursday, September 14, 2006

Pre- Survivor: Cook Islands

So I've been thinking about the new Survivor, and I wanted to throw my thoughts out into the blog world before the show starts.

For those that don't watch TV... the newest Survivor series, Survivor: Cook Islands, begins by grouping the contestants by race: African American, Asian, Caucasian, and Hispanic. The show's producers have lost a lot of advertising dollars because of their new format, as well as dealt with the backlash from minority groups that are calling for the show's cancellation. In addition, the rumor is that white supremacist groups are buzzing about the show's ability to prove some sick point of view that they have. All in all, it's a bloody mess.

It's got to be no surprise that when I heard about this, I thought this was the dumbest idea from Survivor yet. Sure, they based last year's show (I think) on age, with a group each of young men, young women, older men and older women, but I thought this season went too far. I really figured this was for ratings and an awfully risky move on behalf of CBS.

But my mind might be changing...
See, the way I see it is that we all have characteristics that make us readily identifiable in a crowd. For instance, I'm a short, white, brown-haired woman. To me, all of those characteristics are equal. Short? CHECK. White? CHECK. Brown hair? CHECK. Yep that's me. Maybe other folks don't see it that way, but if I'm pointing out a girl in a crowd because I like her shirt, I'm going to say she's black, if she's black. I don't mean harm, but it's an easily describable characteristic of her person.

Based on those opinions, I considered Survivor: Cook Islands. Granted, it's daring, it's risky... but if it was okay to divide people by age... they why not height? Or hair color? Or race? Granted, people are rarely persecuted for their height or hair color, but aren't we just enabling the continuance of discrimination by saying that we can't divide people in this way? I'm not saying segregation, which is defined by separating people by races "in daily life when both are doing equal tasks" like Wikipedia defines it. This isn't real life. And I imagine the contestants are permitted to leave if they decide that they don't want to be a part of this. Let's see if they do.

Do I care if blonde-haired people beat me in a swimming competition? Or if men cook BBQ better than I do? No. So why would I care if a group on a TV show of a different race kick another group's butts in a rope climbing contest?

The fact is that I don't care. I'm not going to root for the white team because I'm white. I'm not going to expect any group to do better than any other, unless they surprise me and include a group of blind people (no offense meant, only that being blind on a deserted island would put one at a disadvantage).

So go on... comment and let me know what you think. I just don't see what the big deal is, except that it's a big deal just because it is. You know what? We should all decide — based on a stereotype you think you might secretly have — which group is the least likely to win... and root for them.

I fully expect to be surprised this season.


Blogger Tillerman said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

September 14, 2006 10:56 PM  
Blogger Tillerman said...

It's gonna be interesting. There have been some racist undertones in previous Survivor series when one member of a group didn't fit in and sometimes it seemed to be at least partially racial.

In the first episode it was interesting to see how the different groups reacted. Latinos were proud and confident and did well. African-Americans felt pressure to represent their culture and lost. Asians seemed to focus on their differences - he's from Phillipines, he's from Vietnam - but still won the challenge. Caucasians cuddled up in bed a lot and at least one romance is already budding.

Probably going to be even more interesting when they all have a chance to bond with their own race for a week or two and then get mixed up.

September 16, 2006 5:27 PM  

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