Thursday, September 14, 2006

Survivor - Cook Islands

Network: CBS
Producer: Mike Burnett

The 2006 Survivor, filmed in the Polynesian Cook Islands (it's easy to find maps of them with search engines) has created controversy because the four teams are intentionally "segregated" by race. The four teams of five players each are Aitu (Hispanic), Puka (Asian), Hiki (African American) and Raro (Caucasian). The names of the tribes are four-letter sequences from the names of the individual islands on which they are assigned. Visually, the differences among the groups are not that striking, and that is probably intended.

Visually, the show has the look of a Robinson Crusoe movie, or perhaps even Zemecki's "Castaway". The teams are put into a relay race and puzzle type contest that resembles similar tasks on NBC's "Discovery Kids." The losing team has a tribal council and picks who is sent off the island, so we have the reality TV version of "rank and yank" discussed in David Callahan's book "The Cheating Culture." The losing team gets to pick one member from another team to go into exile for two days on a tiny exile island, with a clue to finding a valuable icon.

But what is most interesting is the emphasis in the contest on "tribal" values in a very physical world, a bit of a paradox for those of us used to living virtually in a cyber world. "Tribalism" places great emphasis on social hierarchy, leadership, and loyalty, which, however, must be fractured as eventually each tribe member must look out for #1. An interesting morality play, to be sure.

1 comment:

Rob said...

I created a poll to see what people thought about it here: Poll Link

Not looking like the greatest idea.