November 10, 2006

Survivor: The Race War is Back On!!!

So the big news on Survivor (sorry, I needed a break after all the excitement from the elections) was that Jeff gave the contestants an opportunity to leave their tribe and go to the other tribe. Candace had been talking to Jonathan, the other white member on her tribe, about getting back together with Parvati and Adam, the two white members of the other tribe. Right before the Reward Challenge, Jeff told the contestants that they had ten seconds to decide whether or not they wanted to leave their tribe and join the other tribe. During the last final seconds, Candace stepped forward. Jonathan quickly followed.

You could see the look of shock on Yul's and Ozzy's faces. They were stunned. Jeff asked them how they felt. Yul said something like, "I'm shocked. I thought we had a tight team here."

It was really a crazy move by Candace and Jonathan. I won't say it was dumb--because it may actually help them win through their solidarity with their old teammates (The White Tribe)--but it was risky. After all, the two strongest physical and mental competitors in the game are Ozzy and Yul, and it would be risky for anyone NOT to be on their team. No one can outhunt or outswim Ozzy who knows the land better than anyone. No one can outsmart or overpower Yul. (I hope these aren't stereotypes, but it's clear that Ozzy is the the fastest and Yul is the smartest.)

Anyway, as I predicted right off the bat, Ozzy and Yul's team beat the pants off the other team in the next two consecutive challenges. It wasn't even close. The team of four people beat the team of eight, twice in a row, by a longshot. After the first challenge, Ozzy shouted, "Mutineers are the first to die!" Their reward was a continental breakfast with letters and pictures of their loved ones. All team members mentioned that they had never felt such solidarity.

In the second challenge, Yul and Ozzy's team actually fell behind at the beginning. The challenge was to drop these big iron balls into targets at the bottom of the ocean. Yul and Ozzy's team kept missing when they tried to coordinate the drop as a team. Then Yul just grabbed the ball ("Gimme the ball!!!"), aimed it, and dropped it himself. He hit two targets in a row all by himself, and the team then rushed to shore to solve a puzzle. The other team didn't even get to the puzzle stage.

At Tribal Council, the original White Tribe showed solidarity by getting rid of Brad, the other young Asian guy. He didn't even see it coming. It remains to be seen, but I think the black guy got played too; I think Adam will turn on him eventually because Jonathan has been (and continues to be) really good at seizing the leadership initiative. The black guy is kind of like an island by himself; he is still in the game because Adam allows him to stay in the game.

(Incidentally, some would take offense that I refer to the white guy as "Adam" while referring to the black guy as "the black guy." Some might say that I'm individualizing the white guy and categorizing the black guy. But the reason I know the white guy's name is that the other members of the tribe talk to him, talk about him, and put him in a general framework of where he fits in the tribe. Nobody talks about the black guy, and the only time we see the black guy is when he's giving interviews with the hidden camera and talking about how he's going to wipe out the other minorities. So I have no idea what his name is.)

I don't know if the White Tribe's domination is a racial thing, maybe it's just a social thing. The white people in this game happen to be more social than the minority members. Maybe their superior social skills are coincidence, or maybe it's symptomatic of the white privilege described by Robert Jensen. One could argue, for example, that the White Tribe has an advantage because guys like the heavy metal Hispanic guy (I forgot his name because he got eliminated so early) pine over the white girl Candace. I don't know. They seem to be better at forging alliances, and they seem to be better at outsmarting and outmaneuvering the minority men and women. None of them are outstanding competitors in the competitions, but they've only lost one member since the beginning. It's all about the social power.

This is turning out to be a great social experiment, so I'm going to do another 180. First, I thought this was the best thing on TV. Then, I thought it was a useless gimmick after they merged the tribes. Now, I think it's the best thing on TV again.

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