Needless to say, the plan to divide contestants by race is designed to attact viewers. I'd be comfortable guessing that tomorrow's episode will be the strongest first-night episode the show has seen in many seasons, maybe ever. It's a TV program. They pander to our most basic instincts in the hope that we'll sit there, glued to the idiot box for 60 minutes (44 per episode if you wait until it comes out on DVD).
Tonight, I was scrolling through the SF Chronicle's website, one of my usual haunts, when I come across yet another commentary on the show. Consider these words from columnist CW Nevius:
- In short, it has become this week's hot TV topic. And that's exactly, critics say, what "Survivor" creator Mark Burnett and the CBS network were hoping for.
Linda Holmes, a Minnesota attorney who writes "Survivor" critiques for the popular Web site Television Without Pity, said this is the cultural equivalent of watching contestants eat bugs. (A common challenge on the show.)
"Look," Holmes added, "Burnett is a guy that specializes in making people uncomfortable. And this is a topic that will make people uncomfortable."
Maybe so, others say, but what's the point? "Survivor" host Jeff Probst has been trying to make this year's show sound as educational as possible. In interviews, he's even suggested that this is a "social experiment."
"You mean like segregation was a social experiment?" asks Lisa Navarrete, a vice president with the National Council of La Raza, the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. "We tried that social experiment. It doesn't work."
Oh, c'mon, you say. Lighten up. Even Navarrete admits that "it's not the end of the world; it's just a TV show." So what are we getting so upset about?
Actually, most experts agree, the issue isn't race. It is stereotyping. ...
FOLKS, IT'S A REALITY TV PROGRAM. THE GENRE WOULDN'T EXIST WITHOUT STEREOTYPES. EVERY SHOW, FROM THE REAL WORLD TO SURVIVOR TO BIG BROTHER TO ROAD RULES TO TOP MODEL TO ANYTHING YOU CAN THINK OF -- IT ALL HINGES ON THE USE OF STEREOTYPES TO CREATE CHARACTERS FOR THE SHOW!!!!!!
OK, I'll step off my soap box for a moment. I'm just annoyed by people who think a show like "Survivor" should dish out something more than entertainment. That's like expecting deep social commentary from "Desperate Housewives" or a solution to world hunger on "The Office." Come on, folks, it's entertainment.