Mark your calendars for Sept. 14. That’s the day that the world, as we know it, will come to an abrupt end.
Why? Because that’s when the 13th season of Survivor hits the airwaves. This year’s installment, Survivor: Cook Islands, offers yet another twist from the twisted mind of producer Mark Burnett, the Dr. Moreau of reality television. Burnett has come up with a brainchild. He will pit blacks, whites, Asians and Hispanics against each other.
In past seasons, competitors from all walks of life have, at times, been divided into teams consisting of old and young, male and female. And even when teams were not split up into various factions, they more often than not gravitated to tribe members with whom they had the most in common.
This year’s premise is interesting in that it will surely draw criticism from ethnic leaders around the country who will say the show does nothing more than promote harmful stereotypes. So, what can we expect?
When Jeff “Buy A Vowel” Probst presents a physical challenge, will the Black Tribe excel because, after all, everyone knows they’re better athletes? If it’s one of those complex puzzle challenges, can we just hand it over to the Asian Tribe, because they’re all smarter than anyone else? Will the Hispanic Tribe try to sneak over the border into the White Tribe? Will the White Tribe dominate simply because they are expert in keeping the minorities down?
One Internet site is actually taking bets. And guess what, the White Tribe is the odds-on favorite to emerge victorious.
And to everyone that is calling for a boycott, have you learned nothing over the years? The louder you protest, the more people will tune in, if for nothing else than to see what all the hubbub is about.
But it won’t take too long for the controversy to die down. Once alliances are formed and the individual tribes dwindle in number, the races will be merged together and will work in perfect harmony. Viewers will also dwindle in number. Does anybody remember who actually won the $1 million last season? I do, but I’m asking you. Last season’s finale had the lowest ratings in the show’s six-year history.
I should confess that I have never missed an episode of Survivor since it first aired in 2000. I don’t feel good about having to admit that I have missed church more times than I missed Survivor. I have missed work more times than I missed Survivor. There, it’s out there. I feel better now.
And you can bet that I’ll be sitting in front of my tube for Survivor: Apartheid, oops, I mean, Survivor: Cook Islands.
When the show debuted six years ago, I wrote a column asking the question, “What if we took the idea of voting off the weakest link and brought it into the world of municipal government?” Former Tewksbury Selectman Doug Sears, bring us your torch. Former Greater Lowell School Committee member George Kouloheras, bring us your torch. Former Lowell City Manager John Cox — your torch, please.
And if Burnett is running out of ideas, I’ve come up with a few more. Survivor: Massachusetts — Gay vs. Straight. Survivor: Lebanon — Hezbollah vs. Israel. Survivor: Ireland — Protestant vs. Catholic. How about Survivor: Radioland, where we can pit the likes of Laura Ingraham and Bill O’Reilly against Al Franken and Lynn Samuels?
Remember the good old days when the biggest controversy on Survivor involved Richard Hatch, who liked to walk around camp naked?
Ultimately, viewers will have to decide whether this social experiment is worth the ink. In the end, Burnett may hear those famous words, “The tribe has spoken.”
What do you think? Dennis Shaughnessey’s e-mail address is email@example.com.