Last night’s final episode of “Survivor Vanuatu” proved that all the hours we invested in watching this Mother of All Reality TV Shows were well worth it. I don’t think Laurel and I have missed a single hour of Survivor since the series debuted. I’m sure that there are lots of PBS watchers who look down on our viewing habits, but I’ve found that most people who criticize Survivor haven’t watched enough of this show to know what they’re talking about.
You won’t get a better practical education in group dynamics and politics than by observing how eighteen aspirants for the $1 million prize are whittled down one by one until a final survivor remains. A friend, Randy Smith, argued on his weblog today that the outcome of Survivor Vanuatu proves that Hillary Clinton never will be elected president.
He notes that at one point the eventual male winner, Chris, was outnumbered six to one by females. The Vanuatu contestants started out in two tribes evenly divided by sex. At first the women stuck together in a firm Amazonian alliance, but bickering and bitching soon set in. Chris, a construction worker with finely-honed Machiavellian skills, did his best to foster divisions among the women. Yet they did most of the alliance-splitting themselves.
Randy thinks that this indicates that women are highly competitive with other women, which rings true. And this might indeed bode ill for Hillary. However, I find some good news for Democrats in the same dynamics that made Chris a million dollars richer. Week after week, Survivor Vanuatu demonstrated that as soon as a group of contestants formed a majority alliance that took control of the tribe, their solidity started to crumble.
The group would come together for a common goal: to get in power. And once this happened, sub-groups would vie for who was going to wield the power. Even when the decision to be made was who in the minority should be voted off the island next, the majority would experience frictions. These frictions could be exploited by the seemingly helpless contestants in the minority alliance, causing an unexpected reversal of fortune to occur.
We’re starting to see signs of this in Congress. Witness the Republican wrangling over the Intelligence Reform bill. Even though pressure from President Bush ended up with this bill being passed, dissention in the Republican ranks clearly was evident. So I find reasons for Democratic optimism in Survivor Vanuatu.
Also, pessimism. For the two finalists were both Karl Rove-like manipulative lying wheeler-dealers. The contestants with strong values who refused to lie, cheat, and steal ended up proving the truth of the adage, “Good guys finish last.” Like the Democrats.
The sexiest gal also didn’t finish first, though barrista/model Ami did very well. Interestingly, Ami has a girlfriend rather than a boyfriend. Watching her curvaceous bikini-clad body go through the Survivor paces each week (an excellent idea, having a challenge that involved the women diving into mud to catch pigs) left me with a lingering, and horribly sexist, feeling of “what a waste.” But I’m sure Ami’s partner enjoys her attractiveness just as much as a man would.
Laurel mentioned to me today that she had heard that Ami had posed for Playboy. Naturally I had to look into this, literally, as part of my weblog research. Yes, it is true. Beautifully true. Those who wish to conduct their own investigation can learn about Ami’s 1996 Playboy posing here.
A tasty blend of politics and sex. No wonder the well-aged Survivor vintage goes down so well.