Friday, August 25, 2006

Better Survivor article

Is here. Read the whole thing. MSNBC's Linda Holmes does a hell of a job.

But here are some highlights--perceptive stuff:

"Survivor" has shown, usually in spite of itself, a talent for surprisingly adept social commentary. It has delivered sharp insights about gender politics, much more in its small moments of cajoling and strong-arming than in broad strokes like contrived "Battle Of The Sexes" scenarios. Viewed with a careful eye, it has much to say about celebrity, manipulation, groupthink, and how a game show becomes a morality play in the minds of its participants.

Well said. People in a fishbowl under pressure will do things that cause us to think about how we relate to each other all the time, and those water cooler conversations do more for gender/race in our country than this season's contrived BS ever will.

And this:

It is interesting to note, however, that "Survivor" has not chosen to cast "the Arab-American Tribe." Meanwhile, the 10th season of "The Amazing Race" will include, without a special announcement or a special season, a team of best friends who are bonded in part through their shared Islamic faith, one of whom has a request he delivers in the season's early ads: "Don't associate me with terrorists." The power of that simple sentence makes the "Survivor" casting look, by comparison, even more like an ill-advised ploy.

Yup. Smaller is better.


Shannin said...

About the closest I came was suggesting that they have an American tribe and a non-American tribe. Of course, now I'm interested in watching - just to see where it goes.

pankleb said...

Over several recent seasons, the initial "Survivor" tribes have lasted no more than a few weeks.

My prediction: the tribes will be totally mixed by week six, and this will be forgotten in time (except by the MSNBC/Fox News/CNN early evening shows).

A more interesting way to go? Designate tribe leaders of different races. Separate them from the other survivors at first (i.e., don't have them ride the same boat to the island), and have them draft their tribemates based solely on photographs. (There would be an equal # of surivors from each race, of course.) What would the result be? Who knows?

MrFancyPants said...

Gotta disagree with you here TRP -

Isn’t racial bias better out in the open, exposed, than hidden away and nurtured in secret? And could it be that the racial component in the show won’t really amount to much in the end? I think that outcome is, in fact, highly likely.

The "con" argument, I believe is akin to the Christian Right wanting to keep what they find objectionable off the air. I do not think that making decisions based on not offending people makes either great art - or even great "schlock entertainment" live Survivor.

TeacherRefPoet said...

Mr. Pants--

At no point have I said I think this should be kept off the air. I'm a fan of fighting speech with speech. That argument is a red herring.

Nor do I believe that choosing another route besides this one is "making decisions based on not offending people."

Your first argument is more interesting, though. I can see that the racial component won't really amount to much in the end. But I just think this is setting up the competitors for awful situations, where they are asked to represent an entire race in a manner that could get rough.

I don't like the notion of a race losing several challenges in a row and thus being pegged as "the inferior race." Or a race winning several and being pegged "the superior race." Even though I'm sure a merge is imminent, even a few weeks of that can result in nothing good.

What positives can come from this that don't come from the way that (for instance) -The Amazing Race- has so carefully casted this season with such interesting diversity? Where's a good place this can go for the competitors or for the audience? I don't see one. I only see bad results.

(Note: I haven't watched tonight's premier yet. I'll watch it Friday night or Saturday.)