Say it Loud – I’m On “Survivor” and I’m Proud

Here’s a story to go into the “Huh?” file. CBS announced this morning that its flagship reality show “Survivor,” will divide this season’s competitors (tribes) based on race. The four tribes will be comprised of Whites, African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Hispanic-Americans.

What could possibly go right with this?

At first glance, it appears that this format could cultivate a new level of understanding of different races and cultures for the viewers at home. But if you’ve ever seen the show, you know that the prime reason to watch is for the participants dealing with internal struggles among their individual tribes. The arguments and social quirks that they all have make for the best story lines.

We all know that people of the same race can beef with each other just as well, if not moreso than if two individuals from two different cultures were to go at it. With closer inspection, it appears that this format will cause more harm then help, as the inevitable discord amongst the tribes will result in the perpetuation of some stereotypes and the cultivation of new ones; among participants and viewers. 

Producers say that they chose to go this route because the participants displayed a lot of “ethnic pride.” That’s all well and good, but should we honestly expect race to not play a role when you are dealing with physical challenges with a whole lotta’ money on the line? The behavior you can expect and the attitudes that will breed this behavior will all be predicated on the ideal from whence the show draws its name.

Here’s a great piece on the subject, courtesy of MSNBC. Just keep in mind that the show airs on CBS, so I would doubt the NBC subsidiary would go out of its way to make any glowing remarks about any of a rival network’s programming.

So what say us about Race-based “Survivor?” Compelling and provocative, or just provoking ignorance on a grander scale?

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Published on August 23, 2006 at 2:20 pm. 9 Comments.
Filed under entertainment,mainstream culture,television.