Friday, December 02, 2005

Four girlz and a gay guy

Ok, so crankycindy believes that popular media television sucks -- and absolutely loves it. Years ago I made fun of my new partner's love for the TV show Survivor. But I sat through it with her... and here I am years later, celebrating that a group of players came up with a strategy that takes into account age and gender discrimination in a way that works for women and a gay man.

On the other hand, I could go on for days about how for the most part, Survivor producers pick white folks to play this game. Women of Color have had some small success (yea Sandra and Vecipia!), men of color who aren't of african decent are very few and far between, and the occasional African American man selected for the series can't swim, or hate bugs, or are somehow otherwise completely unprepared for outdoor survival.

There are exceptions of course, and but given that there are what, 11 seasons of Survivor, and 20 people per season, the experience of people of color hasn't been all that great -- I suggest that this is not because of the individual prejudice or racism of participants, but because of who the producers choose, and how they choose to edit.

And because it’s a 40 day experience, edited down into a few hours, we’ll never know for sure what the role of white supremacy or heterosexual/male/Christian privilege really is in this show. They show Big Tom (a stereotypical white poorly educated farmer guy) threaten to shoot Clarence, an African American man, but they've also managed to edit it to show Clarence as simultaneously lazy and a physical threat to the players. We'll never know for sure, but I'm confident that the "reality" that Survivor producers intend to show, is the reality of 60's cowboy movies meets Swiss Family Robinson. (hunker down, build a shelter, and protect the womenfolk.)

Interesting essay/ article on racism and editing.
The white supremacist Vanguard News Network, that bastion of all news perspective and lies racist, anti-semitic, and homophobic, has an interesting, if stomach wrenching, take on racism/editing and the stereotypes the Survivor producers chose to portray. It's good sometimes to remember that there are people who still perpetuate the racist myths that underlie much of our more well intentioned unconscious racism.

But that's not the point of this post.

Given that it's edited, this is the way we see this show --
A whole group of people row to an island, or run 11 miles through the woods or over the desert to get to their two camps.

Then we see young adults quickly divide between 'hard workers' and the 'gotta rest a minute' and 'gotta catch some rays.' The older adults work as hard as they can to keep up with the young strong ones.

They arrive at their locations and have to build camps.

The older people w/ outdoors or building experience work on building structures and get frustrated w/ younger people laying around, or: older people with nursing or teaching experience nurse the young kids back to health after the kids hurt themselves. After they've been and helpful to the team effort,
the older people get kicked out one by one.

Then the funny looking, geeky, dweeby, too pushy, “too-black,” and “too-queer” get kicked out/voted off. I think gay guy Richard Hatch won the first season only because no one else understood the concept of alliances, and so he controlled the game by controlling alliances – that’ll never happen again now that everyone understands it’s a game of alliances, trust and backstabbing.

The “Cool Kids” who often include an occasional quiet mom/pop-type person run the place (Every neighborhood has a "cool mom.") They’re generally the cool white kids, mostly men, who define what is normal (on a fake survival island surrounded by cameras!) and determine what’s too different...too pushy/black/queer.

Sandra and Vecipia and Tina (middle aged white woman) won Survivor by staying under the radar for a long time. When I watch this show I always want to go on it. I think I could win.
My partner says I’d wouldn't, that I could never be an under the radar middle aged woman – she thinks I'd be the first one out -- I'd be there trying to tell them they were doing something wrong, how to build the shelter toward the wind, or away from the water, or whatever, and I’d be the first older opinionated person out.
I think that’s only if it was her voting.

I would would like to think that while I could never stay under the radar, I might be able to pull off being the mom/pop type person that the cool kids want to hang with.
...Except that I’ve never been a cool kid or a cool kid hanger-on, and I’m funny looking, geeky, dwebby, pushy, and queer. So maybe not so much with the winning.

So anyway, last night, three people got a chance to plot and plan away from the rest of the group -- one woman who is a cool kid, one who had her head on the next nights chopping block, and the gay guy who has made it this far by being gay and athletic. (Perhaps the first time producers have picked a strong gay man.)

And damn if the game doesn't turn in a way it never has before.

They voted off the guy who thought he was the leader of the cool kids. Oops.

And damn if we don't have four women and a gay guy playing the last rounds of Survivor. Rafe, the gay guy from a huge Mormon family, is, I think, best suited to win this game -- he's an experienced outdoors educator and wilderness guide. The women are Danni, a young white model who was Miss Kansas, Miss USA runner up, and won Star Search. Then there's two time Survivor Stephanie, a young beautiful white woman and accomplished athlete, Cindy, another young beautiful athletic white woman, and Lydia , a middle-aged woman who (I don't know what name she gives her heritage,) was born in Japan of a Puerto Rican father and after leaving Japan, grew up in Puerto Rico, and lived a life of army-style multicultural/multinational life experience as an adult. Example of the producers editing choices? Everytime they show Lydia's name on the tv, they call her a "fish-monger." Her bio lists her as having 18 years experience with one company, and is currently an assistant manager there.

So it's such a mixed thing, this show Survivor. I'm cranky and happy. go figure. This is probably why most people only have one blog.

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