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Survivor FIJI


When I was trying to decide which show to watch, I was having a difficult time because of the fact that I don’t watch reality TV. I thought that by choosing Survivor I would be setting the bar high, because from what I had heard, there were men and women, where as some shows specifically pinpoint the female gender. Also, since the show had been on the air for so long, I knew that it had quite an audience. Once I watched an episode from the 14th season I realized that though there are men and women of multiple races, it is in no way a judgmental zone. This season took place in Fiji. There were two tribes named the Moto and Ravu. They competed in various activities, some physical and some mental, in order to win certain things. At the end of the episode one person is voted to go home from the losing team. In this episode a woman named Rita from the Ravu team was voted to go home. I had never seen this show before, so it was interesting trying to keep track of why things were happening and how to create a feminist analysis of this episode.

Survivor Fiji premiered on Thursday February 8, 2007. It is normally on Thursdays at 8:00PM on Channel 2 WCBS but this week it is playing on Wednesday at 8:00PM instead. This show was aired many years ago solely because of the thrill of competition; the thrill that the contestants feel and the thrill that the audience feels.

This show attracts people of all ages, races, and genders. Even though this was the first time I saw this show, I had heard many things about it before. In the begininning there were 10 men and 9 women; now there are 9 men and 4 women. Most of the contestants were raised in America, but there are numerous ethnicities represented. I watched the episode online, and the commercials had been removed, but the product mentioned by the women in the show was lip gloss. Rita, the woman who was most recently kicked off, is a single mother model.

Gender was originally almost equally represented, yet here in episode 5 of the season, there are only 4 remaining women. The only man who went home left by force due to health complications, not because of being voted off. I think this shows something about the depiction of women because continually every week a woman has been voted off. When watching this show, I learned that you must conspire and try to decide a person to vote off. Although in the show it appeared to me that everyone agreed on Anthony, Rita was still the one to go. Though in the competitions I did not really see any bias in the way they were set up, once outside of the competition and when you see them conspiring, the girls are made to look as if they are the one up to the mischief. The men talk about “what would be best for the team? whereas when it comes time for the women to talk, the way it is cut, it seems as if they are making a decision on a whim. They all essentially agree without much show of why they chose to vote Anthony off. Whether there was more conversation there or not, we will never know.

The men and women on this show seemed much bridged. The men of the Ravu tribe were upset because the women, Rita and Michelle, talked about fashion and how their ethnic skin helped them “fair better? in the sun. Rocky says that “all of the conversations they have are absolutely stupid?. The men don’t feel as if the women bring much more than their fashion talk to the table.

Race was not made to be a central focus of this show, which I think is good. Since it was not a central focus, not singling out any one person because of their race, I was able to focus instead on the diversity of the group.

As for class, until I read further into the lives of the contestants of the Fiji season, I could not tell class differences. After reading a little bit further I found out that Dre on the Moto team grew up homeless in the streets of North Carolina. Most of the other contestants attended prestigious schools all over America. These people are very intellectual and will be well off whether or not they win the money or prize from the final competition.

All of the women that were represented obviously were very fit. The women, just like the men, had to compete in many challenges and often times had to work side by side of the men. These women were skinny and well built, just like the men. I think it would be interesting to see if you had people of average lifestyle, medium build and such competing on national television. Would the show be as attractive? Numerous women were coming from the fashion industry, modeling and advertising, therefore had the body to represent women in high fashion magazines.

It is disappointing that the women have been the ones to go home, who knows if they are the “weakest link? or not. In the essay by Myra Mendible she speaks of humiliation being the concept of the game show. As Alessandra Stanley puts it, "humiliation is the unifying principle behind a successful reality show." I thought this was quite interesting when I was reading this article because so many shows come to mind when you think of humiliation of another person. It is unfortunate that shows sink to the level of insulting and humiliating people in order to attract a broader audience. The main objective of this show I do believe is humiliation, not the portrayal of women as “hot bodies? or “gold diggers?. Although I would like to think that is refreshing, I think it is still there in the subtext. No matter what you are watching you will find biases, especially among reality TV. “The "reality" in these shows stems not from their lack of a script or professional actors (most people know that what they see on these shows is edited, mediated and not truly "spontaneous"), but from the ways it reflects the underlying logic of our social order? (Mendible). This quote really stuck out to me because I had never really thought about it in that way. I never really thought about which shows qualified as a reality TV show and why. Not until after the show, in the final interviews with Rita was she portrayed as “more than what we saw on TV.? I think that this makes an interesting point as well, that women can only be portrayed as so much on TV, but once its all over and done, you can READ about how much of a round person they really are.