Time to take a pass on political correctness. Dreamz, a twenty something who sleazed his way to the final three on "Survivor Fiji," epitomizes much of what's wrong—from this blogger's 58 year-old rural Oregon white guy perspective—with black inner-city culture.
Dreamz, whose real name is Andria "Dre" Herd, loved to talk about the tough times he had growing up in the projects. OK. That's no excuse for being an irritating, lying, egotistical jerk.
Lots of people have difficult childhoods. I did, for sure. I wasn't homeless, like Dreamz was for a while, but I grew up in a broken home without much money and had to deal with an alcoholic mother.
I got through it. Dreamz is still using his past as raw meat for his Pity Patties, which he served to other contestants on almost every episode.
Last night was the finale of Survivor Fiji. My favorite contestant, Yau-Man, won the traditional challenge where a new car goes to the winner. It was a mucho-macho Ford truck that supposedly was worth $60,000. Didn't exactly look like the slight, cerebral Yau-Man's sort of drive.
Dreamz really wanted to win the challenge. He let everyone know that he was the only one who didn't already own a car. He pleaded for the other contestants to give him the car if someone else won it.
Yau-Man didn't go that far. But he offered Dreamz a deal: he'd give him the truck if Dreamz would agree to give Yau-Man the immunity necklace—if Dreamz was one of the final four survivors and earned immunity in the final challenge.
Dreamz was thrilled. He gladly accepted the offer. He promised Yau-Man that immunity would be his, if Dreamz got to the final four and won the immunity challenge.
Then he reneged. Dreamz did indeed get to the final four. And he did beat out Yau-Man on a hanging-by-your-hands test of endurance.
But when it came time for him to decide whether to keep the immunity necklace or to keep his promise, Dreamz took the greedy, sleazy, self-centered path. He told the host, Jeff Probst, "I'm holding on to the necklace."
This was after he'd said that he was looking forward to keeping his promise, so his son could see how a man acts honorably and keeps his word.
When I heard that, I was moved. I thought, "This is going to be cool—a black guy is going to show that you can overcome a rough childhood in the projects and come out with some strong moral fiber." Dreamz is a cheerleading coach. I was ready to cheer him on when he handed Yau-Man the immunity necklace, even though this likely meant he was going to be voted off the island.
What a letdown. All that got handed off (to viewers) was a confusing mess of rationalizations about how "this is just a game and lying is how it's played."
I'm with the vast majority of last night's viewers who were disappointed that Dreamz didn't keep his promise. Here's the deal, Dre, my conscience-impaired young man.
It's one thing to lie, connive, and deceive in an attempt to win the million dollar "Sole Survivor" prize. That's part of an effort to get money that isn't in anyone else's pocket yet.
It's a whole other thing when Yau-Man has won a $60,000 truck that actually belongs to him. That isn't a potential prize; it's a real prize. Dreamz promised that if he won the final-four immunity challenge, he'd give Yau-Man the necklace in exchange for the truck.
A real truck. An expensive truck. A lot different from the usual sorts of deals that are brokered, and broken, all the time on "Survivor" as alliances form and fall apart.
Dreamz tried to argue that how he played the game of Survivor doesn't bear any resemblance to how he acts in "real" life. That's bullshit. Yes, Survivor is a game. So is life. Many other contestants have chosen honor and honesty over deceptiveness and lies.
Dreamz didn't. He even lacked the minimal self-awareness to recognize that after he broke his word to Yau-Man there wasn't any chance, not a shred, that he'd end up winning the million dollar prize. Dreamz was toast in the jury's eyes the moment the immunity necklace remained around his neck.
So he ended up a big loser. He lost his honor. He lost the respect of millions of viewers. Maybe including his son. What did he gain? Nothing. He would have had his beloved Ford truck whether or not he kept his promise. The eventual winner, Earl, got all nine votes from the jury—the first unanimous winner in Survivor history.
That's because Dreamz and the other finalist, Cassandra, were utterly undeserving of being the Sole Survivor. Even Earl was, compared to Yau-Man, who definitely would have won if Dreamz hadn't played his sleaze card.
What bothers me the most, as I said at the beginning of this post, is how Dreamz solidified stereotypes about young, athletic, uneducated, underprivileged inner-city black men. Lots of people think that all they care about is hip-hop, partying, hanging out, looking good, and talking trash.
Dreamz did nothing to burst the bubble of that stereotype. He got to the final three of Survivor via a simple strategy: go along with the crowd when it was convenient; break your word and lie whenever things got a little tough.
Far from being the street-hardened guy who learned life's lessons by looking into dumpsters for his next meal, Dreamz came across as a frightened self-absorbed punk who's clueless about what it takes to be a man rather than a boy.
One of the jury members, Boo, ripped Dreamz a new one when he said that while Dreamz claims to be a Christian, he doesn't have the faintest idea what this entails. I don't usually like to see displays of religiosity on Survivor. But Boo was right on with this one.