Survivor and the Tea Party
Although I would like to be on TV, I don’t watch it. Bad form, I know. Sometimes, however, a show sucks me in and I go back to where I was when I was 13 and watching 25 hours of TV a week—enraptured and engrossed in drama that will not help me learn more about the world. Or will it?
Last night I happened upon the Survivor finale. Within five minutes I was cursing the world about a particular player named Russell. This chap was a “good Southern boy” (as described by a player who was being mislead and about to get played by him). Interestingly enough, Russell was recently arrested for punching a woman at a street fair. He is a stand-up kind of person who sweared on his family, children and grandmother when telling blatant lies. At Tribal Council (where the players who were voted out decide on the winner between the final two or three players) Russell was asked if he regretted his actions. He responded: “No that’s just the way the game is played.”
However, he should know that to win this game you must make sure that the people who get voted out don’t hate you. If you make it to the final Tribal Council you will need their vote to ultimately win the game. In Russell’s case at Tribal Council he was called an evil, despicable human being and told outright that no one would vote for him because he plays in a way that no one respects.
America, on the other hand, voted for Russel. In a viewers poll Russel was the player of the season. Why? Because he is amusing on camera. And incites passion in his followers. Passionate people vote and hence Russel was gifted $100,000 for his antics. His fellow players, the people who know firsthand how his methods cause pain in those around him didn’t find him so amusing. He did not receive a single vote in the final Tribal Council.
As Jeff Probst, the host, read the votes at the show wrap-up filmed in N.Y.C., Russel looked like a wounded bird. (More specifically like a bald eagle who just drank the blue juice in Charlie’s factory.) He knew that he had lost, but he could not admit that it was from his doing. He told Jeff, “There is a flaw in the system. America should have a say on the Survivor.”
But, what happened when they let populist fervor dictate the winner? A dishonorable person was rewarded for their trickery. The episodes and the media only give a brief glimpse of the many interactions and deals that go on that island. Tribal Council is constructed to be an informed body who can make the right choice. They knew who the right person was for the million dollar prize.
This is the point that junk reality TV started to apply itself to the real word. Russel reminded me of the Tea Party call to create a more populist approach to governance. (Which our founding fathers warned us against.) Some even go so far as to call for a new Constitutional Convention.
But the whole point of our legislative body is to guard against reactionary politics. Citizens elect representatives who know more about governance than the general citizenry. People who know how to handle the politics and the details so that they can do our bidding in Washington. If the masses don’t like them they can petition them, protest or vote them out next election. It is not a flawless system, but it guards against an ill-informed and inexperienced public from making important decisions.
Jeff Probst read my next thought as and responded with: “Well, you agreed to play Survivor. This is how this game works. If another game operates with those rules, it is a separate game. Go play that game.”
So Tea-throwers—go find an island in the middle of the Pacific and construct your own goddamned game.
Blogger Bio: Lauren LoGiudice is an actor, model, performance artist, writer, host, producer, improv comedian and amateur chef. A native New Yorker—born in Queens, now living out in Brooklyn—who likes to shake the dust of the outer boroughs off to travel the world, living and working in places that range from India to Mexico to Italy. Part of the slim minority who does not like bacon, potato chips or milk chocolate. Often seen in farmer’s markets trolling for and the latest weird vegetable. Eats her greens. (laurenlogiudice.com).
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