Screensavors: 'Survivor' goes racial

By ARYEH DEAN COHEN
October 19, 2006 15:17

One of the original reality series has thrown political correctness overboard.

2 minute read.



Screensavors: 'Survivor' goes racial

survivor 298.88. (photo credit: Courtesy)

You may have qualified for season 13 of Survivor, if you meet certain ethnic requirements. Yes, folks, one of the original reality series has thrown political correctness overboard and is steaming full speed ahead on the SS Stereotype in its new season, which premiered recently on YES Stars. That itself may be the biggest switch, as host Jeff Probst again reminds viewers that we'll be watching "20 Americans on an adventure that will forever change their lives." Like something out of an Aryan Society textbook, the teams are divided into Asian American, Caucasian, Latino and Afro-American squads, representing what Probst dared to call "a social experiment." Even a Grand Wizard would've had trouble matching some of the racist rhetoric. Even before the action started, Parvati of the Caucasian team wondered: "Different ethnic groups - I don't know - is that... kosher?" Well, if kosher is signing on to the racist images others have... First there was Vietnamese refugee Cao Boi (pronounce that "cowboy," pilgrim), who noted that "nobody suspects these little people with slanted eyes… to see anything or be strong enough to do anything, maybe not even speak English." EXCUSE US? Besides being a blatantly stupid statement, nothing could be further from the truth, especially in today's America, where Asian-Americans are rapidly taking over many fields, especially technology and mathematics. Cao-Boi can be excused, however, since according to his bio on the show's Web site, he now works as a nail salon manager. He must have inhaled too much nail polish remover. And what gives with that Magen David he was wearing? The Afro-Americans were just as bad, with Rebecca of that team reflecting that a division along racial lines meant that "we have to show that yes, black people do swim, and yes, black people know how to get on a boat and paddle... I mean, we don't just run track." Another member of the team noted that "black people don't like to be told what to do." All that was missing was a teammate to say he dunt know nothin' bout birthin' babies. Once the action got under way, however, the stereotyping eased a bit, and the focus switched more to the social interaction among teammates who would eventually have to turn on each other. So we got to meet contestants like White Woman Jessica, she of the bad tattoos, whose friends call her "Flicka," presumably because she laughs like a horse. Our friend Flicka then lost the two chickens that writer/actor Jonathan - who sounds just like Alan Alda - was able to grab off the boat, one over the limit. Yeah - you got it, the Jewish-sounding guy cheats... Finally the first challenge arrived in the form of a boat race/puzzle contest/tower climb that might have temporarily reinforced some viewers' stereotype when the members of the black team couldn't piece together a puzzle that formed the letters "N, S, E, W" and had just 16 pieces. The African-American team lost the challenge, forcing them to go to the Tribal Council to vote someone off. But first they got an opportunity to send someone to "Exile Island," where that person would have to survive with just a machete, some flint and a few other items for two days. Who'd the blacks choose? Why, Whitey, of course, and Jonathan, the we-think-he's-Jewish chicken thief, was off. The premise of the show is cool; ditto the stunts and challenges. But did the producers have to resort to racial stereotyping to drum up more interest?


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