Sunday, September 17, 2006

You Wanna Know What You're Playing For? To Sell Doritos, Most Likely

The Survivor saga continues. The latest is that several sponsors have pulled out, not wanting their products to be affiliated with what Mark Burnett dubs as "a social experiment." This is the most hypocritical thing I can imagine. If you think for an intstant that these advertisers do not have massive, highly paid departments dedicated to segregating people by race, to figuring out what black people will buy and how much, to knowing when Asians are watching t.v. and which shows, you are kidding yourself.

In fact, maybe that's the problem. Maybe the advertisers don't know who they are marketing to on Survivor. Are they to show some African American room mates enjoying a cold beer, or the Japanese couple who can't eat just one potato chip? Seems like these things shouldn't really matter, but they do, a lot more to the advertisers than to the people behind Survivor.

I've seen the first episode and it's relatively benign. There's a bit where the African American group talks about their duty to "represent," and in fact, they seem to be the closest knit group, until they lose the immunity challenge, at which point, like all good Survivor participants, they turn on each other like wild dogs. There's the fact that the Asian group doesn't feel like a group distinguished by race at all; a great point that might enlighten a lot of people. Asia is a big continent, and the "Asian tribe" has Koreans, Phillipinos, and Vietnamese in the mix. It's the equivalent to mixing the Latino tribe with the Caucasian tribe since they are all technically "American," as in, hailing from the Americas. For that matter, I didn't notice any Egyptians or Afrikaaners in the African American tribe either. At any rate, there was certainly nothing on the order of one tribe expressing any kind of racial hatred for any other, or the show presenting a particular tribe to appear more lazy, or conniving, or hostile than any other.

I for one, am curious to see how it develops, and I applaud Mark Burnett for not being afraid of the "P.C. Police," when deciding to try something new, although I grant it is easier in the modern era, where the almighty dollar seems to trump any kind of cultural sensitivity. I'm a little disappointed that the tribes are not split evenly according to gender; some tribes are 3/5ths men, the others 3/5ths women. Perhaps the next twist will be to segregate tribes by race AND sex, with eight tribes competing to survive. As long as everyone in the group is ready with a big smile when they win their reward of a new (Insert Brand Name Product Here), and they make sure the product logo is facing the camera, I'm sure the advertisers will come around.

No comments: