Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Just When We Were All Getting Along So Well

I don't watch "Survivor" and dislike reality shows in general, but I am deeply offended that the new season, "Survivor: Cook Islands" will feature tribes organized along ethnic lines: Black, White, Hispanic, and Asian.

I cannot think of any way this is acceptable.

Jeff Probst, the show's host, says, "It's very risky because you're bringing up a topic that is a hot button. There's a history of segregation you can't ignore. It is part of our history. For that, it's much safer to say, 'No, let's just stick with things the way they are. Let's don't be the network to rock the boat. Let's not have "Survivor" try something new.' But the biases from home can't affect you. This is an equal opportunity game."

NO. This is the most supercilious load of doubletalking gibberish I've ever heard.

Why not bring back lynch mobs and segregated restrooms? They're a part of our history. And how about so-called "miscegenation" laws prohibiting marriage between those of different races? But wait. How can we tell what race anyone is in melting-pot America where most of us had ancestors who came from many other places, either seeking freedom or because they had lost their freedom? Aren't we all basically one race now, human?

What kind of cretins would deliberately pit us against each other along racial lines again? This will only encourage the basest instincts of the least enlightened people among us.

Where is the good in that?


katrice said...

I agree. And I think they're counting on just the uproar that this is causing to boost their ratings. I, for one, also hate this show, but now I have an even better reason to not watch it.

CBS isn't usually this stupid. Someone is bound to say something hurtful on this show, and some may call that reality, but I don't think it should be glorified.

Thanks for addressing this. Many of my friends are also disgusted by it.

kwesi said...

Well, while I understand the sentiment of both of you I disagree. I think this is not much different that pitting the races against each other. The skill that the winner of this will have to display is being liked by all while being identified with one group. Now I agree with you that there is only one race. I really think that in the end, this social experiment reflects what we have to do everyday; endure being identified by the color of our skin yet live and love in a way that demonstrates our understanding of the value of others.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, I think America is already a very divisive nation. Just look at the current treatment of American-born Muslims in the country. Maybe on the next season of Survivor they'll divide people by religion. LOL.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Katrice, thank you for your visit. Your comment about glorifying hurtful reality sums up perfectly what I was trying to say. Good point about the ratings, too. I hadn't thought of that, but I guess after 400 seasons, they need help.

Kwesi, thank you, too, for coming by. Your comments made me think (!) and while I agree that everyone's daily mission is to succeed in a diverse world, I think it IS a hurtful reality that far too many people are not yet able to understand the value of "others," and the format of this show will only endorce bigotry. But please let me know how it goes as I won't be watching.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Anonymous, yes, America has a long history of divisiveness. Besides the absolute horror of slavery, we forced Japanese-Americans into deterrment camps during World War II, just for starters. Since we know these dangerous feelings exist, it's the height of stupidity and irresponsibility to pander to them and to give license to those who harbor them to act on their bad thoughts.

I would like to see us evolving as a people. If America could actually utilize our rich diversity, we could be a truly great country. We're not there yet.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Correction: I meant "internment" camps. Sleepy. :<(

Kevin Charnas said...

RIGHT ON!!! Great post. I couldn't agree more. We ARE one race, different ethnic groups - yes, but one race. There is no biological difference between us.

I actually really don't have anything more to say. You said it quite well.
Although, I'm still shaking my head...

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that I agree that there are NO differences between different races. We do, for starters, look different. I remember Geraldo the Disgusting once featured a doctor who claimed to have done research into the size of sex organs of men from various different races to determine whether there was any truth to the popular rumours. This same doctor also weighed the brains of autopsied patients of different races to see if there were differences in brain mass.

What he claimed to find was that there was, indeed, some basis to the rumours about sex organs, and also some differences in average brain mass. I remember the audience members were largely furious, claiming this doctor was trying to divide the human race up into competitive teams. I remember Geraldo licking his disgusting lips lasciviously and rubbing his hand through his oily hair, delighting in the controversy (just like the Survivor producers will do).

But I also remember thinking, OF COURSE different races have variations in genital size and brain mass. Just like there are various in height and weight. And color!

So what? What's the big deal? Smaller genitals don't mean you use them differently. A smaller brain doesn't mean you are less intelligent.

In my opinion it's silly to think that there aren't some differences between the races when there so obviously ARE. Physical differences are apparent.

Difference is a good thing. We're all different and I think that's something to treasure, not to squabble over. It isn't, in my opinion, about pretending we're all exactly the same. We aren't. Instead I think it's important to value the differences just as much as we value the commonalities.

We can respect each other's differences and we can also find out where the common ground is upon which we all stand.

My point is that Survivor isn't doing something particulary innovative or interesting in suggesting there might be some differences in the way people of different races (and more importantly, if this plays in, of different cultural and religious backgrounds) handle problems and deal with adversity. What would be really new and exciting would be if the viewing public could watch, value, and RESPECT these differences without making generalizations.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Kevin, thanks for visiting and for your companionable head-shaking. I just discovered your blog yesterday and it's great, so I'll be knocking on your door regularly.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I believe that doctor's work has been discredited as a flawed "study," the intent of which all along was to prove "scientifically" that caucasians were superior to blacks. Hitler had his doctors, too, who asserted that the ethnic group that produced Einstein, Freud, and Salk, among others, was mentally inferior. These studies are not written in stone, but in bullshit.

How many brains and genitalia comprise a serious cross-section anyway? Please. ONE doctor measuring ONE set of cadavers... I don't think this merits anything but ridicule.

I hate to be picky, but I think your last paragraph contradicts itself: If people of different races, cultures or religions handle problems differently, how could viewers possibly witness this without making generalizations? The studio is reinforcing stereotypes by dividing contestants by race, plain and simple. The generalizations are ready-made, one-size-fits-all. No thought processes need apply.

Incidentally, I feel compelled to clarify that I don't pretend we're all alike. I just believe that our ideological differences as human beings are much deeper and more important than mere skin color.

Riley said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Riley said...

I think we agree about what's most important, that the differences between individuals should be respected and valued and that one person is not representative of an entire race. I hope the Survivor viewers (and players) can show they know better than to let race divide them, even if the producers attempt to create controversy in this way.
(oops sorry about the double comment)

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Welcome back, Riley. Long time-no write.

I hope so, too. I wonder what the team nicknames will be. And shudder at the possibilities that come to mind.

urban-urchin said...

what kind of cretins? Reality TV show producers baby!

Hundreds of years from now historians will point to the rise of reality shows as the point when Western Civilization took a dramatic turn for the worst.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I couldn't agree more. Extolling mediocrity by turning people with no talent or culture into role models was a cynical ploy to avoid paying actors. I think this "movement," and you can interpret that word any way you like, bears a lot of responsibility for the demise of manners in the world.

Jennifer said...

You couldn't be more on target here, in my opinion. The whole concept disgusts me and I can only hope this season marks the beginning of the end for the dredge of reality TV.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

ME, TOO. From your lips to God's ear. And may She be listening.

Lex said...

I know I'm chiming in late, but I've been 4 days with no internet access...

When I first heard about the show (I love Survivor, btw) I was not as disgusted as many people are. I think this kind of grouping makes people (Americans in particular) uncomfortable, and I think that's what it's intended to do. I don't think it's a glorification of divisivenss or anything of the sort. I do think a by-product of the show is that it will call our attention to our prejudices and sterotypes (much like the movie Crash).

Nobody gets up in arms when TV does the battle of the sexes. Why are we so up in arms about this?

I'm one who likes to engage the culture in heated discussions about realities we want to ignore and pretend aren't there. I think this show will do this and I plan to watch and engage in the discussion.

Thanks for this post, Hearts.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I love discussion, and your view is provocative, Lex. Admittedly, I have a knee-jerk reaction against anything that seems to encourage prejudice of any kind. IF the show is able to call attention to such attitudes without exascerbating them, it could be a force for good.

Perhaps I'm cynical, but I doubt the producers are intent on mending society's worst evil, although if they are, calling attention to it would be the logical first step. And you make a good point that pretending it doesn't exist is not a solution.

Am I going to have to watch it now out of curiosity, just when I was counting on you and Kwesi to report in so I wouldn't have to?

You're new here, so welcome! Thanks for the visit.

Lex said...

I have a aversion to people, producers or anyone else who wants to fix it, whatever it may be.

The culture certainly will not be fixed by this show, but it won't be fixed by burying our heads in the sand and trying to forget history and not-so-history. I don't know what the intention of the show is. I just know that it is an opportunity for great discussion.

Discussion breeds self-examination. It's only when we examine our own faults, and not another's, that real change occurs. The culture changes as individuals challenge themselves to confront the evils of their own hearts and do something about it.

I'm glad to be here!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Wow! Your remark about examining our own faults as the means to change society is excellent. Focusing on those of others, as most of us do constantly, does indeed distract us from addressing our own.

If the show's intent is to instigate confrontation with others and with ourselves, they must be succeeding because here we all are discussing it, and the season hasn't even begun yet.

I AM going to have to watch it, arent I? Just when I was busy making other plans...

Lex said...

Ha Ha! Yep. Gotta watch.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Gloat, gloat, gloat, that's all you ever do.

So I have to cancel that wild night of root canal I was so looking forward to?

kwesi said...

Heart - so glad to see you change your mind and join the "gotta watch it club" I'll be back to discuss the shows with you'll and i'm look forward to a candid discussion about race and issues, finally.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Kwesi, Tell me why I have to watch a dumb show to have a candid discussion of race and issues. I can do that now.

Okay, I'll TRY to watch it. But if I really hate it, I'll probably bail. You're not taking attendance, are you?

Check one:

Yes __

No --

Lex said...

Check one:

Yes __X__

No _____

heartinsanfrancisco said...

What are you, MissLexic or something?

Fine. Take attendance. See if I care. And while you're at it, could you bring some popcorn? Salted.