Thursday, August 24, 2006

Race, Racism, Survivor and CBS

By African American Political Pundit

The most talked-about TV series of the fall may not be a new drama or sitcom, but an aging reality show that’s going into its 13th season. The buzz is all around town. Race Matters in America, even on the TV program Survivor.

Producers announced Wednesday that CBS-TV’s Survivor , in which individuals compete against each other on a deserted island for a $1 million prize, will have racially segregated teams when the next installment kicks off Sept. 14.

The 20 contestants will be divided into squads of blacks, whites, Asians and Hispanics, a move that is already generating controversy.

African American Political Pundit says: It's unfortunate that race matters so much in our country. The "bigotry demons" are working overtime at CBS. The Washington Post reports 20 contestants will be divided into the White Tribe, the African American Tribe, the Asian American Tribe and the Hispanic Tribe. Why not a Native American Tribe or a Japanese American Tribe? It seems to me the African American Tribe, Native American Tribe and Japense American Tribe are real survivors of American Racism let's get them to play the game.

Ooops the "bigotry demons" at CBS got it wrong, what is the white tribe doing in there? Let's kick out the white tribe real soon, they are not really "survivors" they are descendents of slave owners and neocolonialist but not really "survivors." How about a Jewish holocoust tribe for good measure. Oops again, to old, not in the CBS viewer market. How about an O.J. Simpson tribe? A Rodney King Tribe? Oh better yet, how about a KKK Tribe?

Survivor Cook Islands cast

Reaction has been swift in the Black and Hispanic community.

BAW (Black America Web) writes: The decision by producers of the CBS reality hit “Survivor” to divide the tribes by race in the upcoming fall season has triggered reactions of surprise, disgust and curiosity -- and a certainty that CBS will gain an enormous ratings boost, at least initially.

The writes: Get ready for a segregated "Survivor." Race will matter on the upcoming season of the CBS show as contestants will be divided into four tribes by ethnicity. That means blacks, whites, Latinos and Asians in separate groups.

Lisa Navarette, Communications Director for National Council of La Raza, the Latino civil rights and advocacy group. says: “The producers of Survivor are either really clueless or really soulless, that they are willing to engage a pretty hot-button topic for ratings and feel they won’t have any problems,” says “Knowing Survivor , and the way the game is played, it gets very ugly and setting it up that way almost propels people to go there [act negatively toward other races]. . .It borders on the irresponsible.” More>>>

The Defamer writes: Just as Page Six reported yesterday, Jeff Probst joined Harry Smith on CBS' The Early Show for an interview to defend Survivor's latest genius promotional hook of dividing next season's contestants into four, race-sorted groups: The Asian-American Tribe, The African-American Tribe, The Hispanic Tribe and The White Tribe (isn't the acceptable term Honky-Americans?). Smith can't hide his contempt for the shamelessness of it all, saying "there were groans" in the studio that morning, which Probst counters by explaining that the show's concept came out of "the criticism that Survivor was not ethnically diverse enough." It was a fundamental flaw in the casting process that producer Mark Burnett and his crack team of sleazebag reality producers immediately addressed by segregating the hungry and increasingly desperate players according to skin color, then letting the cameras capture which ethnic group will first resort to devouring a competing, weaker ethnic group once the stomach pains become too much to bear. More >>>

Marc Lamont Hill writes: On September 14, CBS will unveil the thirteenth season of the popular reality show “Survivor.” Like its predecessors, the upcoming season will send 20 people to a tropical island, divide the teams into four “tribes,” and have them compete against each other until one person is left standing. In addition to intensifying the colonial gaze through its reductive and exoticized representations of the “other,” the show has added yet another problematic twist: this year’s tribes will be divided by race. While the producers are labeling the show as a “social experiment, ” many critics are already dismissing it as a racist publicity stunt.

To be certain, the producers of the show are motivated by the high ratings that accompany such a sensational premise. Given the enormous hype and early high ratings for FX’s race-centered Black/White, it was merely a matter of time before another network followed suit. Initially, Donald Trump was planning to do a race-themed season of The Apprentice but opted out at the last minute. This was a wise business move, as the backlash from an offensive moment or two could permanently derail the series. Such a moment would have inevitable given Trump’s rough demeanor, disrespectful treatment of Omorosa, and public diss to Randal Pinkett. Unfortunately, the folks at CBS don't share Trumps keen understanding of his own limitations. More>>


African American Political Pundit will be a regular contributor to Mirror On America.


jayceeclevie said...

Hi. I was flipping through blogs about the new Survivor series and I came across your page. I like what you have to say about the topic. i wrote on teh same issue. Check it out!

Brian said...

It's unbelievable that CBS would even consider something like that.

There seems to be no limit to what these TV networks will do for ratings.

They had to know that it would be controversial.... which is what they wanted, because it would cause people to tune in.

I first thought that perhaps there was a deeper experiment going on.... maybe a group of psychologists or sociologists were doing an experiment behind the scenes and they would explain later, once this series reached a conclusion.

But that would be giving CBS too much credit.... credit that they haven't earned. I doubt that it has anything to do with that. I think it's plain old exploitation in order for them to get bigger ratings.

You also can't let the contestants off the hook. They are allowing themselves to be prostituted by this network.

Great blog entry!

btw, I also got your message... i've been busy, but I will sign up in the next couple of days.

Brian said...

Nice work Jaycee. Stop by more often.