Is it really racial divide or survival of the fittest? And are we talking about contestants or reality shows? In what appears to be an attempt to surpass their depressed ratings, “Survivor” The Reality Show has chosen to divide the participants of the 13th season into tribes based on race. The new season shot in Cook Islands in the South Pacific begins September 14th. There will be four tribes consisting of African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, and White contestants. Many viewers and some community leaders are in an uproar over this decision citing it as wrong, and if they had their way it would not happen. The host Jeff Probst stated this particular approach was taken because of cries that the show was not diverse enough and cites the choice of division as a social experiment. My question is who really is the social experiment? Is it the contestants and the way they will play off of each other, or is it America observing as social scientist viewing the contestants as laboratory rats? When you think about it, aren’t we all laboratory rats to the networks?
When it all comes down to it at the end of the day, it is all about numbers and ratings. Controversy generates attention, which in this case will generate viewers; hence the ratings will rise for the network and the popularity of the show during this season will most likely skyrocket. By the network deciding to divide the tribes based on race, automatically thrust the show into the spotlight. As a result of this tactic, of course now more people will now watch the show, which is exactly what the creators of the show and the network wanted. Bottom line, it is all about money. It’s not about and never has been about race. We are talking about a show whose numbers are falling. This is a last ditch attempt to boost their numbers and stay in the running and maintain a position in the upper echelon of reality shows in a market that is now immersed with them. When Survivor originally hit the airwaves the show was one of the most popular reality shows on television and pretty much benchmarked the era of reality television. Now there are multiple shows on every channel on major network television as well as cable networks for viewers to choose from.
Like it or not, “Survivor” 13th season will get their numbers this season based on this strategy. Americans that do watch television will armchair jockey from their living room as we watch the competitors degrade themselves for a ridiculous amount of money. When it all comes down to it, it won’t be about color and it won’t be about gender. Darwin knew what he was talking about when he discovered his theory of “Survival of The Fittest.” When this show is over, irrespective or race or gender, the best man or woman will have won. It won’t be about race. It will be about the person with the most strategy, competitiveness, will power, physical endurance, tolerance and relentlessness. In short it will simply be about survival of the fittest. As far as the networks well, “Survivor” needed an edge. They chose the edge of controversy in the form of racial division. At the end of the day, it’s really nothing personal. It’s all about business.