Friday, August 25, 2006

Segregated Survivor?

I will admit I don't watch Survivor anyway, and it has never been something that I've been inclined to watch, it strikes me as silly, pointless, and stupid. But now it seems to have crossed a line from bad TV to downright disturbing with the anouncement that in the upcoming season teams will be segregated by race. CBS has justified this by contending that they "wanted to get more minorities on the show", which is fine, but to suggest that the only way to do that is by segregating out contestants by race is to suggest that people of different races can never really coexist as friends and equals. Admittadly, Survivor was never a model of civic committment and collective effort to begin with, as it seems to mirror some Machiavellian view of the world in which all that matters is self interest rather than social good. Organizing survivor teams by race will send the message that we're better off sticking to our own kind, in fact some commentators have even admitted as much, suggesting that minorities always get ripped off in survivor and the new setup gives racial minorities something to root for. Americans have succeeded historically through collective action that transcends such irrellevent differences as race. When people have been divided, the oppressed have lacked the power to create any change, only when people with a common collective interest saw through such categories to work for a common good has America succeeded, the most notable of these was the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s which set the stage for the Great Society, one of the greatest expansions of workers rights in American history. When Americans have been pulled together collective interests have been expanded, when Americans have been pushed apart, those interests were ignored by the elite and powerful who pursued a narrow self interest. This is a dumb idea and sets the absolute wrong cultural message.

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