Maybe it's not enough that the United States is percieved the world over as being anti-Arab, anti-anything not Christian, anti-poor, anti-whatever. Maybe all the struggles for equal rights by blacks and ethnic minorities over the 200+ years of this country's history has really been a big put-on. That's all I can figure after reading that the new season of CBS' "Survivor" will divide its tribes up by race and ethnicity.
Yes, instead of being four tribes on a "remote" island separated seemingly randomly, this newest installment in the stalest reality game show on television is divvying up contestants based on if they're white, black, Latino or Asian. (Read the story on Yahoo! here.)
How could anyone think this is a good idea? I mean, are we as a culture so vapid and devoid of good and/or common sense that we're willing to throw centuries of civil rights improvements out the window for some lame-ass game show?
In the article, "Survivor" host Jeff Probst said, "the idea actually came from the criticism that 'Survivor' was not ethnically diverse enough." Wow. Just, wow. The response to lack of ethnic diversity isn't taking two less suburban sorostitutes and two more blacks or hispanics. It's pick a bunch of people and play a little Jim Crow South on them.
But that might not be the worst of it. Probst, in his infinite wisdom as purveyor of culture, said, also in the article, "the show is a social experiment... and this is adding another layer to that experiment." Yeah, I'd say this adds another layer to the experiment. And it also adds another layer to bookies taking bets on the show. Now, istead of betting on who will win, maybe we can bet on how long it takes for the white group to put up "Whites Only" signs on the palm trees, or how quickly any of the other groups devolve into ethnically offensive stereotypes. Because that's what people want to see, right?
This is dangerous territory for television, and for America culturally. If this show fails (and please, God, let it), it will be because of such fiery backlash from all sorts of civil rights groups and would set back what we see on TV by decades perhaps. But if it's a hit, what does that say about the United States and the people in it? I'd like to think that viewers would have better sense than to participate in such an obvious and belittling attempt to shock and awe. But that might be inferring a lot about the collective consciousness of a nation that has made Paris Hilton a superstar.
And already, there are bad signs out there. Probst is citied in the article as saying that contestants had mixed reactions to the racial divisions. Yet, they still decided to particpate.
The allure of a million bucks trumps any kind of sense of self-worth, self-pride or identity, I suppose.