Thursday, August 24, 2006

Survivor Gets Racial

MSNBC was buzzing today with the news that the upcoming season of Survivor: Cook Islands will divide the 16 contestants by race. The game will start with four teams: Blacks, Whites, Hispanics and Asians. All day long there’s been a parade of minorities on the screen. There were two Asian women, a Dominican guy, two black guys, etc., all saying how terrible this is and it’ll set race relations back 50 years and Rosa Parks is turning in her grave and on and on.

How come no one ever asks me?? I think this is great. I will definitely watch the show.

I found the discussion amusing for a few reasons:

  • Survivor has been segregating the contestants for years. If memory serves me, starting with Survivor: Amazon, the teams were split along gender lines. In the most recent season, Survivor: Exile Island, the initial division was Old Men, Young Men, Old Women and Young Women. Dividing the contestants by race was the next logical step. I think they should go for broke and have Homosexuals vs. Straight People in Survivor 14. I would watch that too.

  • Survivor (and The Apprentice, Treasure Hunters, Amazing Race, etc.) are always racial and people are acting like they never noticed. When you have a show in which there are 14 white people and two black people, and people start forming strategic alliances, the black people are fucked*. I saw the reverse happen on that Sean Combs reality show with the aspiring rappers. The white contestants were marginalized so fast, they were in tears, literally.

I’ve been tracking the racial aspect of Survivor for a while now. I had watched a bit of the first season when it debuted, but I never watched the subsequent seasons. I became involved in an online Survivor game last year and I needed reference material because I’d forgotten what the show was all about. I began watching reruns of the earlier seasons on the OLN network and the racial shit was so in-your-face, I started documenting it so that I could blog about it. I took notes, which I will share.

Now, I said I'll watch Survivor: Race Baiters, but I'm cynical. Is there going to be something racial about the challenges as well? The producers always pick black folks who can't swim! I guess that shit is funny to them, watching the black folks coughing up seawater. Fuck that. Contrary to popular belief, there are black people who can swim. Will the entire black team drown??

Here's another scenario: If the producers of the show are smartasses (No! Couldn't happen) they'll pick quartets that have natural intra-racial or intra-ethnic issues. For example, let's take the Hispanic group. Let's say they consist of a Mexican, a Puerto-Rican, a Dominican and a Caucasian Cuban. These people might not have shit in common.

More later...

*Yes, I do know that a brother managed to win The Apprentice last season and a sister did actually win one season of Survivor. I’ll talk about how she managed to do that in the next post. As for the brother on The Apprentice, I stopped watching, so I can’t comment on him in particular, but I can comment about Kwame from season one.

Technorati tags: Survivor | Diversity | Race | Reality Shows


JamaicanQueen said...

In today's newspaper, they were saying that they were going to fight this shows airing. That it is too racially charged for NBC (or was it CBS? I have no clue I have never watched to the show).

Michelle Pessoa said...

I don't watch any other shows on CBS but Survivor, but I'm certain there aren't any shows on that network that have a predominantly minority cast the way Survivor: Cook Islands does. So, yeah, I can see how they’d be quick to pull the plug if the buzz became really negative. Uncharted waters, and such.