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September 18, 2009


Dear Brian,

This reminds me of your other blog.

Robert Paul Howard

Robert, good point. If Russell Hantz is active on the Internet, there's a good chance he acts like the trolls who infest my churchless blog from time to time.

A troll is to a normal blog visitor as Hantz is to the usual sort of Survivor contestant. Meaning, some deception, scheming, dissembling, and even lying is expected in the big wild untamed world of the Internet, as on Survivor.

But when this behavior crosses the line into mean-spiritedness and a pure desire to hurt other people, that becomes troll behavior online and disgusting jerk behavior on Survivor.

Brian, I really appreciate your comments, particularly because I watch Survivor with my kids. Thank you for articulating so well what I will repeat to them regarding Russell H. I hope is voted off soon.

Thank you for a well thought and excellent take on society and this show.
I feel exactly as you do, but could form the exact feelings I had, of course disgust, of course frustration, but when these feelings are suddenly attached to a show you love, it's maddening.
It is the responsibility of this show to set a higher standard in light of all the other incivility going around.
Thanks for your blog!

You call yourself a hardcore fan but wanna play be nice rules? Go watch Sesame Street if you wanna watch everyone get along.

I started off thinking Russell was a jerk. My family and I look forward to watching survivor now because of Russell. He was a great choice for Survivor - good job CBS.

RW, I'm almost ashamed to say that I agree with you. After writing this Russell-bashing post, I've warmed up to him quite a bit. His ability to find hidden immunity idols without any clues is impressive.

And the guy is a savvy strategist who has good people skills -- not in the sense of being pleasant, but in understanding peoples' motivations and how to get them to do what he wants.

However, my wife, a retired psychotherapist, tells me that this also is a hallmark of criminal personalities. That's why they're able to con people so well. Regardless, Russell is an interesting guy and I've come to believe, with you, that Survivor made a good choice in putting him on the show.

most sucessful people in the world billionaires head of companies have criminal personalities that is why they have been so successful. i too am a therapist and for your wife to say that seems odd to me. most people in survivor have done worst, remeber johnny fairplay. if you sir are in that position and you are playing for lets say your life or your family member's life would you do the same or would you do worst to say your life. would you then be termed as having a criminal personalities. take it for what it is a game.outwit,outplay,outlast.

Any "Survivor" fan knows that the game is based on deception, lies, manipulation and what can only be described as "legalized criminal behavior." That is the nature of the beast. If anyone cries "foul," including the contestants, then they do not understand the theme concept. What better place to showcase a true con-man plying his trade. The show is the perfect stage for him to practice his art and not get arrested. It is a great format for an audience to understand human nature at it's worst. Take it for what it is worth. To me, educational from a professional standpoint. This is an example of real life human nature in a fabricated setting.

It bothers me that a man with four children would expose his bad character in public while they're under his roof. I hope those kids have some decent relatives as counter role models.

I wonder who would enter into a business relationship with this creep after he has explained his world vision in public. If its all a game to him who would ever trust him? I hope to read of his bankruptcy filings soon. He's probably land on his feet with some organization at the Blackwater / Cheney end of the moral spectrum. Bet he appears on Fox Noise as a right wing American Idyll soon.

I jumped to your Jeff Probst link and am cinvinced that I won't want to follow this show again. Russell is one thing but his admiration for Shambo? A bitter and self-deluded little woman. She boils a chicken for two hours and decides that the guy who questions her cooking choice must go? A horrible little creature that Probst sees as the future of his franchise? Pretty sad.

Russell played the most dominating game I have ever seen. The jury members disrespected the game by voting for someone who did not deserve to win. That was the only Survivor Reunion show I have ever seen where they barely even showed the winner or their exploits (bad or good). Why...because she did absolutely nothing but agree with Russell throughout. She was his puppet. Its a shame. Can you imagine seasons full of her....it would be like watching paint dry. Now by emboldening future juries to do the same, that may be exactly what we get out of the show.

Duane, I'm almost ashamed to admit that by the end of Survivor Samoa, I was prepared (though not eager) for Russell to win. In fact, I came to have a grudging respect for Russell's strategizing abilities. His "speech" at the final tribal council where he described his moves on voting people off and forming alliances with other people was quite impressive.

At first I felt that Natalie didn't at all deserve to win. But the last statement by the jury member at tribal council (can't remember his name) may have helped turn some votes in her favor. He did a good job of arguing that her decision to link up with Russell and let him take the shots was wise.

Basically she took a "yin" (passive) approach to the game while Russell was way "yang" (active). Tao'istically, her strategy made a lot of sense.

In retrospect, Russell erred in assuming that members of the jury would be as impressed with his strategic style as he was. It seems that they ended up voting for Natalie because Russell was such a jerk, not because she out-played him.

And maybe her bikini got her a few votes. I certainly kept hoping Natalie wouldn't get voted off, for purely sexist reasons.

The show , or should I say casting for the show has evolved over the years to a point where the producers are hoping for conflict. Conflict between the tribes , contestants , etc . They have invited people to participate from all walks of life , and some who are of questionable mental stability..... this all in the hope that this year will be the best consumer ratings year ever. It has also spawned a group of people who study the game , and become students of strategy . Russell was one of these , and I would concur that he studied it very well . Regardless of his blatant disdain for the other contestants feelings on the show , he did still manage to outwit , out smart and outlast. He was , so far , the best manipulator this show has ever seen , and it is a travesty that he wasn't rewarded accordingly. Like him or hate him, he played it the best and had us sitting on the edge of our seats hoping for the day he would be revealed and we were all hoping blindsided by the same sword that he was wielding. For the other contestants to not see this and reward it , was a collossal disrespect for the game . They dropped the ball on this one !!!

I'm looking forward to Russell's future in a world where trust is usually a requirement for building relationships Now that he's revealed in interviews that he despises and manipulates everyone in his 'real' life his little kingdom should start to crumble.

Oh wait I forgot he's a Texan, where the celebrate the only instance in which slavery was reintroduced after being banned (Remember the Alamo; slavery was banned in Mexico in 1822 and reintroduced in the 'Lone Star State' He'll do just fine there and in most of the red states south of 38 degrees north.

wow chris fitzgerald, you sure are witty. "38 degrees north." i sit here wondering how much time, out of your precious life, you to look up that information. as far as russel goes, most of the people that hate him do it because they aren't smart enough to know that they should not only respect him, they shold worship him and those of us like him. his only mistake was assuming the voted off losers had half the respect and integrity for the game that he had. that girl was hoping to get to the final two, and not until the end did she form her "strategy." i am truely disgusted that the jury thought she was the one that outwitted them. if that is the case, they must all have very low self views. she was a pawn and they were fools. he could have just as easily had her voted off and kept the law student or anyone else for that matter. the guy was awesome and though its true we all have our opinions, if you disagree with this one, your wrong.
unrespectfully, KRIS PARKER, TEXAN

"as far as russel goes, most of the people that hate him do it because they aren't smart enough to know that they should not only respect him, they shold worship him"

I don't think so, maybe your dimwit enough to worship someone like but I don't worship him and anyone else for that matter. If I was to worship someone in which I absolutely detest it wouldn't be someone as unrespectable as russell. Survivor is also about relationships, they get people from all over the country from different cultures and put them together. If he was so smart he would've incorporated the social a little bit better in the game and he would've won. I don't blame the jury his arrogance got the better of him and was in the end his downfall.

Great column. I think this is the best thing I've seen written about this despicable POS known as Russell. Do you know he now has a site called RussellGotScrewed dot com? It's disgusting. Worse, he hides behind a legitimate charity to mask his true hostility at having lost. He calls himself America's Top Survivor. He is a joke.

I too am a longtime Survivor fan and have watched all kinds of jerks, liars, etc. This guy was extremely disturbing from day one. I've talked to other women online about the "traits," you know? Big red flags. His inability to accept his loss and insistence on getting his way no matter what is another warning sign.

Is he a sociopath? Well, he does have a record. Google him and other keywords like arrest, etc.

Unfortunately, CBS will stay on him like white on rice. He is ratings gold, and they will use him up until they bleed him dry and he blows away (hopefully). If we can just survive his 15 minutes of fame we'll be okay. I imagine they are rigging the outcome of Heroes v. Villains as we speak to make sure he "wins."

Control freaks are the most dangerous people on earth. They truly don't care what kind of destruction they cause, as long as they "win." I suppose we can take some consolation that the little prick must toss and turn every night replaying his "game" and whining to all who will listen. That is a very special hell of its own. Good. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

To the MEGA IDIOT Kris Parker...are you on drugs? Natalie done way more than you saw, and you still are too damn dumb to realize what a total retard you are! You worship a man of flesh who is absolutely 100% a loser in every sense of the word and what does that say about you?

Yeah. Thought so!

reat blog Brian - just stumbled across this post doing some research into the "Russell" phenomenon. Interesting comments from Jess - I too am wondering if season 20 has been "rigged" to set up a Russell win - clearly CBS wants his strategy to be validated so as to attract players like him in future. I can understand on some level why people find him entertaining, but to actually admire his behavior is pretty sad. Or to talk about people 'disrespecting the game' because they didn't agree with his strategy? The game is a construction - one part is the producers who edit subjective stories to manipulate viewer opinion and the other part is the contestants agreeing about what kind pseudo-society they want to endorse during the time they spend playing. The jury vote is every bit as much a part of the game as winning challenges or finding hidden immunity idols. If you get to the final three and you haven't worked out a strategy to ensure you haven't alienated the people on the jury, then you just haven't played well enough to win. The arrogance of people who think that their judgement of the game, based on 40 minutes a week of heavily biased editing, beats those who were actually there and played it!

As I'm posting from another edge of the globe, the Samoa season just started here. I couldn't even watch the first episode entirely. I was so totally disgusted by Hantz's character, which, IMHO, seems to reflect some narcissistic features. He said, being rich, he didn't need the money and he's been bragging about it ever since. And yet he went on destroying other people's belongings just in the name of the game. I've never accepted the fact that people in Survivor go through each others belongings. You just don't do that. Ever. And this person went even further. Not to mention the sob story, which, as Russell boasted, was a lie. That's another thing way out of the line. Go on, lie about your alliances and other game bs, but not about your private life. That's just not the way to live your life.

I've known people who can lie like that. They have the same principles as Russell: you're with me or against me.

This guy Hantz gives me serious creeps. I myself decided not to watch this season. I'm skipping it all because seeing someone like Russell Hantz just makes me sick.

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