Come on in guys for my latest Survivor Worlds Apart recap. Much like the game of Survivor I like to keep my readers on their toes. So this recap is quite different than the format I have been doing before.
Episode 10 of Survivor Worlds Apart was one of the most emotionally driven, cold-blooded episodes of Survivor of all-time. I know that reads as hyperbolic for a reality show but Survivor is not your average drama-fueled show.
Survivor is a game show first, reality show second. The game aspect is what sets it apart from many of the trashy, drama driven reality shows that we are all used to. That isn’t to say that Survivor hasn’t had its’ moments of drama over the years.
We have seen Richard Hatch allegedly sexually assault Sue Hawk forcing her to quit. Then Boston Rob betrayed his real-life friend to get himself further in the game. Fast forward quite a bit and Phillip is accusing Steve Wright of being a racist. And even later Brandon Hantz has to be restrained from choking Phillip. These were heavy, hard-to-watch, cringe worthy moments in the show. And there are plenty more.
But none of that compares to what Will did to Shirin in the last episode. I could use this post to discuss exactly what he said and what he did to Shirin but I feel like those points have been made numerous times this week. Instead I would like to write about our reactions to what we witnessed.
Many fans, casual or super, have spent the week lighting torches. These people have threatened to quit watching the show. They have announced their disgust of CBS for not taking a moment to warn viewers about the events. These fans have attacked former Survivor player and the Knowingist-Knowing-All (for now) in Rob Cesternino for calling Will and Dan entertaining and good TV.
And what I am here to say is, stop. Stop it all. Stop attacking each other. Stop attacking Jeff Probst and current players. Stop acting like you are going to boycott. Just stop.
The major problem everyone seems to have is they feel like CBS is exploiting the remarks made by Will for ratings and entertain. Sure the producers were probably thrilled to have such harsh remarks recorded but I am here to defend how they used the remarks.
CBS knew they had gold in terms of a controversy here. They could have spent the weeks leading up to the moment with ads teasing it as the most shocking moment of Survivor. Or the harshest. They could have given more clues to the audience about to the incoming storm that is Will but instead they chose to mostly hide him all season long.
The other thing CBS could have done? Simply ignore what happened. Some people were calling for that. It would have been so easy. Will is a mostly useless player that has no shot to win. Shirin is a fascinating woman who looks to be outnumbered and with only a small chance to get to the end. But she already has a great redemption story and didn’t necessarily need this scene to make people love her. They could have easily cut it.
But they didn’t and I am so glad. Because this was pure entertainment. Not entertaining like, “I fully enjoyed watching that woman get berated because I hate women blah blah blah.” No but there are many different forms of entertainment.
Its the same form of entertainment as movies like Requiem for a Dream or The Road. They make you uncomfortable. They make you queasy and sick. They make you think and feel like you never have before. And they bring to light issues that matter. It might not be the most fun entertainment but it certainly is some of the most important.
Call that exploitative. Call that inhumane. But opening up this topic could go on to do great, wonderful things for a lot of people.
I feel sorry that Shirin had to go through that. I feel bad that she is forced into a role representing victims of domestic, physical and emotional abuse. She does not deserve to have that forced upon her. But it happened. And Shirin is proving herself to be an incredibly strong woman. And CBS didn’t sweep it under the rug. They didn’t avoid it like the NFL has tried to do. They owned it. And now it is our job to use what we witnessed in our own lives.
We start easy by not doing what Will did to anyone, ever. And then we encourage those we love who are in bad relationships to get out. And then we spread the word and donate to groups that help these people.
We don’t riot against CBS. We don’t throw rocks at casting. We don’t threaten Jeff Probst or boycott Rob Cesternino. And we certainly don’t quit on a show that strips humans of their basic needs and exposes what we are fully capable of. Because witnessing the darkest part of a human should teach us how to be better people.
Look, I have had to defend my love for this show long enough. It has had its rough moments. It has been cringe worthy often. But it is not simple, reality, exploitative crap. It shows real human nature and tells us the honest truth about ourselves. And the longer we run away from the truth the more dangerous our lies become.