Monday, May 16, 2005

Survivor Guilt

Yes, I'll admit it, I'm a fan of "Survivor", much as I agree that it has lead to the "realityization" of American TV and probably to the hastening of the Apocalypse and the Second Coming of Christ, who will take out God's Righteous Wrath on all us boob-tube addicts. All it took was a season's worth of Richard Hatch, the scheming, conniving, naked gay guy (and probable future guest of one of Uncle Sammy's nicer prisons for tax evaders) to get me hooked.

I guess what I like about "Survivor" is that these are all regular folks, not celebrity nutcases chewing dialogue on talk shows, where you cannot tell if they're acting or being real. On "Survivor", you can see the good, the bad and the ugly duking it out every week, trying to keep from getting their torch extinguished during the Tribal Councils. They lie, they set up "alliances" they generally don't intend to keep and, at the last show where the "jury" gets to vent their rage and dismay at the two remaining candidates for one million semolians, the ones who aren't going to win the big bucks take their frustration out on the potential winners for NOT being honest and above-board (even though everyone of them would have gotten the same treatment if THEY were in the hot seats).

The ironic thing about "Survivor" however is that the "regular folks" who start out on the show become, at least those in the later rounds that everyone remembers, celebrities themselves. Just look at Rob and Amber, two "Survivor" alumni who've gone on to second place in the latest "Amazing Race" and whose wedding was taped for a two-hour special on CBS. They're a cute couple (albeit scheming and occasionally dismissive of "lesser" contestants in both shows), but if it wasn't for "Survivor", you'd never have given them the time of day if you passed them on the street. It doesn't take much in the US of A to become a celebrity, it seems. Hopefully, they'll all invest well.

I've got to say I enjoyed this last season of "Survivor" a bit more than some in the past, simply because there was a little bit less viciousness in the folks and a fairly nice guy, a firefighter from New York, won, beating a conniving young woman pretty convincingly. He was bossy and a bit funny the time he got drunk on native hooch one show, but he was the oldest person to win the big bucks (all of 41, a veritable spring chicken by my standards) and he wasn't the type to go backbiting when by himself in the woods with a cameraman. When he felt betrayed by his alliance buddy Ian, Tom the fireman confronted the skinny dolphin trainer and literally brow-beat the kid into giving up at the next challenge.

I doubt I'd last through the first show on "Survivor". Not because I couldn't handle the physical parts of it, since I surprise myself at my own endurance sometimes, but because I'm pretty much a loner who got very lucky in finding someone in marriage who could put up with me. I doubt that I could lash out at offending teammates who were lackluster in their challenge performance and couldn't just lie straight-faced at people that I knew were going to be voted off in a couple of hours. I'm just not ready to be a celebrity.

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