‘Survivor’ Encourages Racial Stereotyping
I never watch morning television, but the other day I was lucky enough to catch ‘The View,’ since my mom absolutely loves it. On this particular installment, Jeff Probst, the host of ‘Survivor,’ was on the show, talking about the new season. Apparently, their ratings gimmick this year is that they have created the most ethnically diverse cast to date. But there’s a catch. They have segregated everyone into four groups: African Americans, Asian Americans, Caucasians and Hispanics.
The creators of the show explain that the idea for this season comes from previous criticism that ‘Survivor’ is not diverse enough. So it’s understandable that from that criticism, they would get together and decide to accentuate racial boundaries by showcasing them on national television.
Finally, a show that blatantly encourages racial stereotypes! YES!
They are defending themselves by calling it a ‘social experiment.’ How can they call this a social experiment when the variables of the show are completely unnatural?
They are taking a group of people, splitting them up into racial categories, and throwing them on an island where they will compete in games for a million dollars in front of television cameras.
I would also like to know exactly what hypothesis they are trying to prove. That people of common ethnic backgrounds share values and loyalties?
I don’t think any of us need a TV show to prove that. We live in a society in which prejudice and discrimination are alive and well and stereotyping is all too common. So why should we want to watch it on TV?
Shows like ‘The Chappelle Show’ and ‘Family Guy’ expose racial stereotypes by making fun of them, and by making people aware of their own prejudices.
But this so-called social experiment simply separates racial groups and presents an image of each of them without moderation, subtly encouraging viewers to take racial sides, and make racial judgments, particularly about the winning and losing teams.
When the Asians start to win, does that mean they are just as smart as we think they are? Or if they lose, do we trash them because they should be smarter?
Mark Burnett, the executive producer of the show, said, ‘To the less-than-open-minded person, it is very easy to trash us. … But we’re smart enough to not make it negative. … We’re smart enough to have gotten rid of every racist person in casting.”
I would call this move anything but ‘smart.’ I’m finding it extremely difficult to wrap my open mind around why the producers and CBS would think that this is a great idea. And although no one on the show may be racist, there are plenty of racist people in the world that will buy into the stereotyping.
Producing a show in which tribes are separated by race is not only inappropriate, but more importantly, it is socially irresponsible. In an ideal world where we didn’t have to worry about stereotypes and assumptions, this type of show would cause no waves.
However, because we still fight against discrimination and we are still trying to shake off social constructions, a show that separates people into racial categories is a step backwards, only helping to preserve what we as a progressive society have fought to dispel.
Perhaps what CBS is trying to get across is that racial boundaries don’t make much of a difference, and that we should ignore the separation altogether.
However, highlighting and perpetuating racial separation isn’t the way to do so.