This is late, I know, but I’ve been hella busy this past week. I didn’t want to do a crappy job and just post manic ramblings, so I waited and here you go, my thoughts on CBS’s Survivor Cook Islands, Episode 1.
I learned about this show later than the rest of the civilized world. I was driving in the car listenting to my ever-so-dorky, yet always on, news radio when I heard call-ins from irate viewers in the DC Metro area having hissy fits about the tribes being divided by race. As usual, my initial reaction was contrary to the masses as I wondered what the hell was the big deal.
Shortly thereafter I came across Heartinsanfrancisco‘s post on the subject. Go read her post and the related comments in their entirety. I’ll post a section here for background for my thoughts on this episode.
- Lex said…
I know I’m chiming in late, but I’ve been 4 days with no internet access…
When I first heard about the show (I love Survivor, btw) I was not as disgusted as many people are. I think this kind of grouping makes people (Americans in particular) uncomfortable, and I think that’s what it’s intended to do. I don’t think it’s a glorification of divisivenss or anything of the sort. I do think a by-product of the show is that it will call our attention to our prejudices and sterotypes (much like the movie Crash).
Nobody gets up in arms when TV does the battle of the sexes. Why are we so up in arms about this?
I’m one who likes to engage the culture in heated discussions about realities we want to ignore and pretend aren’t there. I think this show will do this and I plan to watch and engage in the discussion.
Thanks for this post, Hearts.
- 9:22 PM
- heartinsanfrancisco said…
I love discussion, and your view is provocative, Lex. Admittedly, I have a knee-jerk reaction against anything that seems to encourage prejudice of any kind. IF the show is able to call attention to such attitudes without exascerbating them, it could be a force for good.
Perhaps I’m cynical, but I doubt the producers are intent on mending society’s worst evil, although if they are, calling attention to it would be the logical first step. And you make a good point that pretending it doesn’t exist is not a solution.
Am I going to have to watch it now out of curiosity, just when I was counting on you and Kwesi to report in so I wouldn’t have to?
You’re new here, so welcome! Thanks for the visit.
- 10:09 PM
- Lex said…
I have a aversion to people, producers or anyone else who wants to fix it, whatever it may be.
The culture certainly will not be fixed by this show, but it won’t be fixed by burying our heads in the sand and trying to forget history and not-so-history. I don’t know what the intention of the show is. I just know that it is an opportunity for great discussion.
Discussion breeds self-examination. It’s only when we examine our own faults, and not another’s, that real change occurs. The culture changes as individuals challenge themselves to confront the evils of their own hearts and do something about it.
I’m glad to be here!
- 11:16 PM
- heartinsanfrancisco said…
Wow! Your remark about examining our own faults as the means to change society is excellent. Focusing on those of others, as most of us do constantly, does indeed distract us from addressing our own.
If the show’s intent is to instigate confrontation with others and with ourselves, they must be succeeding because here we all are discussing it, and the season hasn’t even begun yet.
I AM going to have to watch it, arent I? Just when I was busy making other plans…
So, with that said, I’m not upset about the show. I don’t care that most people are. I think it’s another opportunity for us to take our heads out of the sand and examine, get this and get this clearly, our own shit where race is concerned. I think it’s an absolute waste of time and energy to sit on our collective tails and point the finger at another’s prejudice, racism, ignorance, assumptions and the like. I can’t do a thing about anybody who hates me because I’m black, or female, or 33. I can do something about the assumptions I make about the 56 year old, white, obese smoker (woman) with 13 cats that may walk into my office, and it is from that perspective that I’m going to approach my commentary on Survivor Cook Islands from here on out.
I realized while watching Episode 1 that if I’m going to participate at all in this discussion, it must be from the posture of examining what the show exposes in me. I know this is risky, and I cringe as I anticipate what I am about to type, but it’s honest. I watched the show with pen in hand and wrote down every racist, sterotypical, malicious, hateful, ignorant comment that came to my mind. I’ve posted them here, just below, hopefully not to be castrated by my readers, but to be transparent and to be willing to”confront the evils of [my own heart] and [hopefully] do something about it.”
First, some terminology. The tribes: Puka (Asain), Aitu (Latino), Raro (White), Hiki (Black).
At the very beginning, the castaways are allowed to collect items from the ship to take with them to the island. Yul from Puka grabs a chicken. Johnathan from Raro steals the chicken from him and denies it when later confronted about it.
Lexi: Yep, of course the white man stole the chicken! Always taking something and claiming it as his own, then lying about it (re-writing history). Surprise, surprise.
Later, Cao Boi of Puka, a Vietnamese refugee is talking about how he feels like an outcast even among his fellow tribe members, as they were all born in America. He remembers the “old country” and he believes that distinguishes him negatively from his group. As they show his name, they also include his profession–nail salon manager.
Lexi: The Vietnamese guy’s a nail salon manager. Classic!
When the Hiki tribe makes it to camp, they share their thoughts about being divided by race and break into a chant of, “Represent! Represent! Represent!”
Lexi: Oh my God! Listen to how ignorant they sound. Why Lord? Why?
Later, in the immunity challenge, Puka and Aitu come in first and second with Hiki bringing up the rear.
Lexi: Work ethic won the immunity challenge, plain and simple.
When Hiki had to make a decision about who to send to exile from the other team, the two men separated themselves from the 3 women, made the decision and the women agreed.
When Hiki had to make a decision to send a member home, Sekou made comments about the women thinking they can do this without the men.
Lexi: This is not a social experiment. It’s social commentary. The black community is so divided by gender. The common themes are all here: struggle for power/control, emasculation, critcizing the black woman for her strength. This is going to make me vomit.
So, there you have it. These are my initial reactions, but before I cut you loose to verbally flog me, let me first add my own reflections on my embarassing gut reactions.
I noticed that I am the hardest on my own people. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I struggle with trying to understand what self-hatred is and is not. I had a long conversation about this with a friend who is infinitely more afro-centric than I may ever be. He helped me to realize that things that upset me about members of my own culture may not stem from self-hatred so much as from anger and disappointment, as a parent would feel for a child who should know better, and who can do better than they may be doing at the time of said disappointment. I will be trying to sort this out as the show continues.
I have no doubt that I’ll be criticized by my community for doing this in front of others. But, hey, it’s my blog and my struggle. I’ll do it the way I want.
Most of my other reactions stemmed from stereotypes. I’m glad to see that I’ve bought into them as much as anyone else, so now I can work on learning other things about these cultures to replace the stupid stereotypes.
My reaction to Johnathan stealing the chicken surprised me. This is the kind of comment I would sit back and criticize others for making. Seems like I’ve got a lot of work to do to uncover where this one came from and why I’ve been so blind to it in myself.
OK, your turn.