Most Utahns would disagree with me. Their lives revolve around Survivor and the like. Recently I had an e-mail conversation with Jazzfan, an intrepid Survivor viewer. Here's my thoughts and her response:
Cyclops: While I always thought the show was mind-numbing and taught dishonesty, greed, and just about every other cardinal sin, this year's series drops to a new low. The idea of teams competing race against race, ethnicity vs ethnicity comes at a time when we should be sending the exact opposite message. We need blacks, white, Asians, and Latinos working together. What's next? Muslims against Pope Benedict's Catholics? Evangelicals vs. Jews? Conservative Mormons against gay-accepting Episcopalians?
Jazzfan: Give me a break. Survivor is hardly the bastion of political correctness. In the past we had tribes divided by gender and age. Older women, older men, younger women (aka The Barbies), younger men (Animal House in the Jungle).
Cyclops: OK, the silly show has been slimy for a long time, but seeing a few nubile nudes on an exotic island is not the same as dividing along racial/ethnic lines.
Jazzfan: The best thing about this Survivor is that Americans will realize that ethnicity does not a tribe make. For that matter I challenge anyone to find five LDS women who are alike. Guess what, CyclopsÖMolly Mormon doesn't exist and neither do most of the stereotypes people like to judge by. A common bond is more than skin deep, religiously based, or age related.
Cyclops: Diversity? Pitting the Shiites against the Sunnis draws out diversity too--and that led to bloodshed, not your common bond.
Jazzfan: Ah ha! My point exactly, Cyclops. If the Bush Administration watched Survivor for even half an episode, they would soon realize that getting the Iraqis to agree to anything is about as likely as a so-called "alliance" to make it to the end of a season.
Cyclops: Funny, but this isn't about George Bush. It's about the concept of dividing people along lines that historically have led to discrimination and anger. Having Republicans and Democrats "competing" might be, at best, funny and, at worst, stupid. But there's no public good coming out of African Americans trying to outwit, outlast, and outplay the Asians.
Jazzfan: Lighten up! Survivor isn't about public good or anything even remotely high-minded. If you are so worried about discrimination and anger, why not disband the New York Yankees because they instill so much hostility among baseball fans and just play a friendly round-robin tournament to decide the pennant winners?
Cyclops: Our Founding Fathers gave you the right to view obnoxious tripe. So watch on--I'll be at the library.
Jazzfan: I hardly think that watching Survivor is covered in the Constitution!
But you could be right -- It may be tripe, but it's entertaining tripe.