Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Survivor: The Jim Crow Version

I really am angry at CBS right now. They have decided that they have a new way to get the ratings up for Survivor, a reality TV show that is beginning to show its age.

It's to segregate the show. A team of white people will compete against a team of black people, a team of Hispanics and a team of Asians. Ironically, I am writing this post while I am sitting on the Hopi reservation, which is surrounded by the Navajo reservation, so it's a good bet that at least 90% of the people within 50 miles from here would be told that they couldn't be on this show at all, because of race.

This is in a word deplorable. It wasn't all that long ago when sports teams, as well as schools, workplaces and housing were segregated. In fact, it may be technically illegal, but in a lot of cases there still is de facto segregation. As recently as the 1970's there were still legally segregated instututions in some places, and there are still country clubs where even Tiger Woods would not be welcome to play golf because they would look only at the color of his skin. Because of segregation, generations of people were lynched, forced out of a job, made to go hungry, or even had their entire communities burned to the ground. Children were forced to walk past a good school near their homes in order to attend a lousy one much farther away.

To make sport of this on a show called, 'Survivor' is ironic in the extreme, as under segregation, people had to fight every day just to survive.

Racial segregation is not a game. It is not something to make light of. It is not acceptable. It is hard to see how this could be considered anything other than bringing one of the worst ideas of the past (whether you call it Segregation, Apartheid, or whatever, it is still the same thing) to modern TV.

What is really appalling is that CBS and other networks continue to underrepresent blacks or other non-whites proportionately to their numbers in the population in their regular television shows. Presumably they will now use this stunt to claim that statistically they are doing better at it.

Disgusting. I can't call this anything else.


Anonymous said...

I haven't heard of this...

Huh... I stopped watching survivor after the second season... so I really couldn't tell you what was going on with the show...

I truly don't like this concept... We fight everyday to keep all races as one... and here we go competing against each other...

Tom & Icy said...

That sort of bothered me, too. But then I was thinking: what about the Olympics? Aren't they competitions between different countries, cultures and ethnic groups? Just wondering.

Eli Blake said...

Brian, welcome. And go ahead and link anything you want.

Lammy, that is true, and to be honest the nationalistic part of the Olympics has always bothered me. It has not however been specifically about race since Jesse Owens embarrassed der Fuhrer in 1936.

Further, some countries have had different histories involving race than we have. Some have been pretty enlightened on the subject, though it is still a worldwide issue.

In America, with our history of slavery, segregation and violence (especially by white people against black people) I don't see where this is appropriate. Race relations an important issue (which haven't been getting the attention they deserve) and I don't see how denigrating them to the 'vapid' like this serves any purpose.

If Survivor is that hard up, how about a team of people (mixed race) from the South, a team from the Northeast, a team from the Midwest and a team from the West?