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  • Survivor and social dynamics

       December 20, 2009

    Another season of Survivor comes to an end tonight. Yes, embarrassingly, I still occasionally watch Survivor. But, looking at the ratings, I'm not the only one. While individual contestants, locales & challenges tend to blur together, I find that I'm still fascinated by the social dynamics of the game.

    One thing that I find interesting (and encouraging) is that people don't just ally with other people "like them" - they'll ally with people of different races, sexual orientation, religion, class, etc. The only things that seems to determine alliances are proximity and opportunity. Think about it - one of the first and most successful alliances in the game was between a 70-something military guy and a middle-aged gay corporate counselor. If they can make it work, there's hope for the rest of us, right?

    Well, maybe not. The other thing that I find interesting (but less encouraging) about the social dynamics of Survivor is the role of women in the game. I'm maddened by the passivity of the women. Maybe it's just the editing, but it seems like the women on the show are consistently content to let the men make decisions. The not-so-passive women are "pushy" and "bitches" and are obvious targets to get voted off. Women who are successful on the show either do so by being motherly or by being ingenues.

    Contestants so easily slip into these elemental, hard-wired roles and perceptions, like that old men are wise, women are weak and strength is a matter of muscles. (Those of you that watch the show, have you ever noticed how respected these muscle-bound studs are, yet how many times they don't actually help their tribes win anything?) I wonder if this is just a consequence of being in an artificial reality show environment or if these are just essential facts of humanity and that no matter what, we're always going to seek and respect male leaders and obvious physical strength more than their feminine counterparts.

    I don't know. In the political world, Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin are both examples of how strong women are perceived and treated (basically, depending on your political affiliation, they're either crazy, bitches, or crazy bitches). But, on the other hand, how do explain the career of Margaret Thatcher? Is she the exception, the Boudica of the 20th century?

    But maybe I'm thinking about it all wrong. Maybe it's not about traditional or non-traditional roles anymore. Maybe it's all about the individual. Maybe Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin would get voted off of Survivor because they're annoying while Margaret Thatcher would do well because she's awesome. I like this interpretation better. If you're not doing well at the game of Survivor or in the game of life, maybe it's not because of what you are, but rather who you are. Yeah, that must be it. And, if all else fails, just blame the editing.

    Posted by at December 20, 2009 10:57 AM

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    #  December 20th, 2009 11:54 AM      cherlynda
    Well lets hope Brett wins,,,cause I like him and then I am in the money in the office pool.  



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