posted Sep 01, 2006

My wife and I have watched every Survivor since the second American one. We TiVo it and tend to concentrate on the challenges over the politics, since the challenges on the show are often creative and unique. (The politics I find somewhat interesting, but I can never quite forget that I'm only seeing the barest fraction of what is actually going on, cherry-picked by the editors. The net effect is much the same as not being able to suspend disbelief while watching science fiction.)

The next gimmick to get people to watch is to split the teams up by race.

I have to say, I have no interest in watching it. The last thing I need to see is one of the [race] participants go on about how proud they are to be part of their teams and how it's time to correct some stereotypes. I know this not just because I can predict that they're going to play this up, but also because they've also done stuff like this before, where they proved that somebody who is handicapped is actually in fact not just as good as somebody who isn't. (Not what they intended, and they claimed it proved the opposite, but if you actually look at the facts and ignore the rhetoric, the handicapped guy did not do as well on the challenges. Go figure. Granted, he mostly did better than I would have, but they tend to put at least three or four very healthy men in the prime of their life, and such people are very hard to beat physically, just by the nature of things.)

The consensus seems to be that this is an obvious ratings ploy, and it'll work. I'm going to predict the opposite, that while the opening episode will be strong, it'll quickly tank after that. My prediction is based on my gut feeling that CBS isn't going to be able to resist the temptation to air the contestants babbling on the one hand about how proud they are to show how good they are, and babbling on the other hand about how fantastically tolerant they are and how happy they are for the other team that they get to be..

There is an opportunity for true controversy and dialog here: Highlight the peculiar asymmetry of race relations as they stand now, where a black person can say anything they want about white people, both as a race and individually, whereas the white people had better not so much as say anything that can be thought by somebody somewhere to be a racially charged comment. But I'm sure CBS will just be pushing the multicultural party line. It may be true (I don't agree all cultures are equal, but barring minor physical differences the races are all effectively equal), but it's still something that we've all heard a million times and probably won't voluntarily listen to again.


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