Friday, August 25, 2006

The Tribe Has Spoken....

The word is out. In the latest edition of Survivor, the tribes are going to be separated according to race. This is causing quite an uproar. Those involved with the show have been asked if this is simply a publicity stunt.

Of course it's a publicity stunt. The whole point of reality t.v. is that it is one giant publicity stunt. But as with most things, this one isn't going to live up to the hype. Here's why.

1. They're all American.

While of course race distinctions exist in the United States, these people are still all Americans, with a common language and a common culture. If you really want some fireworks, get a tribe of Communist Chinese, a tribe of Iraqi Shiites, a tribe of Taliban, and a tribe of Bush supporters, none of whom speak the same language. Then you'll see some serious action.

2. It won't last.

The way this game works these days is that tribes are mixed up and merged at a moment's notice. Tribes that have been separated according to age or gender have only remained segregated for a few episodes at least. These tribes may last a bit longer but by the time it gets really good, the tribes will probably not be recognizable as "racial tribes."

3. Survivor is racist already.

If you've ever seen Survivor, black contestants are inevitably portrayed as lazy, petulant, non team players who can't swim. Throw in an occasional Zen master or female participant who can't stop using sex to get what she wants, and you've got all the elements for a nice stereotype stew. With tribes evenly divided according to race, every group should have a lazy player, an overachiever, a sexpot, etc. and race should be much LESS of a factor than in earlier games.

So although I'm hoping for an exciting season, I'm not too worried about this new element. After all, when you're a native insect at a reward challenge, one human mouth is as unpleasant as any other.

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