Survivor, a show I have watched faithfully for 12 seasons now. I stopped actually enjoying the show several years ago, but like a roadside accident, I can't seem to look away. I had a similar struggle with Melrose Place in the mid-90s.
There's been a lot of controversy since the announcement that contestants would be segregated by race (black vs. white vs. asian vs. hispanic). So what? They’ve already divided men from women, and old vs. young. It’s a fairly natural progression to go for the obvious, and it’s guaranteed headlines to boot.
I think Probst explains it best: “A lot of people who have never seen Survivor have absolutely no idea what they're condemning, and are using this as a platform to advance their own agenda.” I ♥ Jeff Probst.
We can pass this off as a ratings gimmick, but TV networks have been baiting races for fun and profit for decades. Anyone remember Archie Bunker? Good Times? The Jeffersons? Well, this black vs. white bullshit isn't exactly groundbreaking stuff.
We agreed that this could be an interesting social experiment, and by creating teams based on race, the elements of racism and prejudice within tribes would be eliminated from gameplay. I've heard many a past contestant (on many reality shows) whine and complain that they don't fit into their team because of "cultural boundaries", and there’s been accusations of discrimination and stereotyping. The folks watching at home can see that everyone hates that player because the individual is an asshole, not because of their race. So no more excuses, no more accusations. Step up or lose your fire, bitch.
What I’m interested in finding out, through the magic of reality television, is this: If everyone is the same race, does racism exist? I think that's the main point that Survivor is trying to make. In earlier seasons, they have already proven that separating a group solely by physical characteristics only brings on a new layer of conflict. As soon as one judgment factor is removed, (gender, for example) it is immediately replaced with another (such as homophobia or ageism).
Humans are funny that way. We gravitate toward sameness and conformity, and we long to be included and accepted into society, but at the same time, we stubbornly fight to remain absolutely individual. I believe that the essence of true "unity" probably looks a whole lot like the Borg Collective.
But who wants that shit?