Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Survivor Getting Racial...

This is REALLY a trip.

I got this off a blog called blackprof.com.

I guess rating are really hurting for them to play "the race card."


Survivor Getting Racial

August 23, 2006
by Marc Lamont Hill

On September 14, CBS will unveil the thirteenth season of the popular reality show “Survivor.” Like its predecessors, the upcoming season will send 20 people to a tropical island, divide the teams into four “tribes,” and have them compete against each other until one person is left standing. In addition to intensifying the colonial gaze through its reductive and exoticized representations of the “other,” the show has added yet another problematic twist: this year’s tribes will be divided by race. While the producers are labeling the show as a “social experiment, ” many critics are already dismissing it as a racist publicity stunt.

To be certain, the producers of the show are motivated by the high ratings that accompany such a sensational premise. Given the enormous hype and early high ratings for FX’s race-centered Black/White, it was merely a matter of time before another network followed suit. Initially, Donald Trump was planning to do a race-themed season of The Apprentice but opted out at the last minute. This was a wise business move, as the backlash from an offensive moment or two could permanently derail the series. Such a moment would have inevitable given Trump’s rough demeanor, disrespectful treatment of Omorosa, and public diss to Randal Pinkett.

Unfortunately, the folks at CBS don't share Trumps keen understanding of his own limitations.
Many critics have blasted the show for promoting racism through its racially segregated teams. Such a belief is undergirded by a wrongheaded liberal approach to race that eschews any recognition of racial difference. While I don’t believe that dividing teams by race is fundamentally racist, the claim that this show is an “experiment” that can tell us anything meaningful about race is spurious. Like FX’s Black/White, Survivor places relatively privileged people (check the list of participants) in contrived circumstances that don’t approximate the conditions of American social life.

Although White privilege, anti-Black racism, and systemic inequality certainly seep through the porous cultural walls of reality television, they are obscured by the heavily orchestrated interactions and identity performances that the reality television genre demands. Unfortunately, many Americans lack the theoretical tools and political will to understand how just how inaccurate and mendacious the show’s “findings” are. Just like in Black/White, when everyday people buttressed claims that racism didn’t exist by pointing out that Bruno (the White guy turned Black) didn’t get ignored in the shoe store, the new Survivor runs the risk of misstating the truth by overstating its “realness.” If the folks at CBS want to use Survivor to talk about race, they should figure out how Black people manage to survive with inadequate health care, diminishing job opportunities, poor schools, and institutionalized racism.

But that, of course, would be too real for them.


I knew there was a reason I never liked Survivor...


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