Thursday, September 21, 2006

First episode of controversial "Survivor"

Before the second episode of this season's "Survivor" airs tonight, I need to comment on the first episode! As you've no doubt heard, this season, all the "tribes" are divided up by race. While some critics had considered this "controversial", I instead find it an interesting snapshot of where our society is today in regards to race relations. And of course, this is an obvious play for ratings.

That it will be a ratings draw due to the racial issue is precisely what the producers are banking on, because they know that race relations today is still short of the goal of total racial harmony. That is, if we truly had total racial harmony today, then this season's ratings draw wouldn't be a draw. People would be saying "They're dividing by race? Yawn." But nope, we're not there yet.

There can also be no doubt that this season will be heavily edited to eliminate most of the racial comments and jokes that are made among the tribes themselves, and especially if they make racial remarks about the other tribes. The producers will probably be trying to convey the ideal of total racial harmony even as they are benefiting from the increased ratings because they know that we haven't achieved total racial harmony. TV shows tend to use this "having it both ways" tactic a lot.

However, even though they might eliminate most of the racial comments and jokes, they know that they can't eliminate all of them, because they know that the viewers are watching to see if there's any racially derived moments of stress or tension. That's part of the ratings draw, after all. I did notice that some of the tribes did indeed make racial comments and jokes amongst themselves about their own race. Nothing explosive and divisive, mind you, because the producers don't want "controversy" to devolve into "disaster".

I will note that when someone had asked me about what I thought of the show (this person was Hispanic), I told him basically what I said above. Then I mentioned that in one of the immunity challenges, one of the tasks was to assemble a canoe that was broken in pieces like a wooden puzzle so that they can row a few yards offshore to obtain a torch. I told my buddy that the Hispanics instead "put together a lowrider, man! Right down to the hydraulics!" I then bounced up and down like I was in a lowrider with hydraulics. That had him rolling, as well as others (of other races, I should note) nearby.

Isn't it interesting, though, that I can make such a comment related to an aspect of Hispanic culture and get people to laugh? I suppose that, as a Hispanic, only I could have made that comment and not come off looking racist. And that pretty much sums up where we're at in regards to race relations today. We can joke with each other about our respective races, but not about other races. I also don't know if a society that has changed to the point that they're all making racial jokes about all races can be considered "progress". Just what IS the goal of total racial harmony anyway? Is part of that the freedom to make jokes about other races? I have to think about that one some more.

Anyway, I'll check this second episode of Survivor, and let you all know how that one goes.

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