“Survivor” brings out the worst in aspiring contestants.

I’m not a fan of most “reality” TV shows and Survivor is at the top of my list of can’t-stand shows of that sort. Mainly because it’s obvious that the producers have intentionally picked people that will generate the most conflict to appear on the show.  I understand that’s kind of the point, but that doesn’t seem all that ‘real’ to me which is what I expect a reality show to be. Still, I’ve often wondered if the contestants understood that some of them would be picked strictly on their ability to be total assholes. Seems many of the hopefuls are more than aware of this fact:

Audition that can outwit, outplay, outlast – 300 Bay Area residents vie to be ‘Survivor’ – SFGate.com

“There’s nothing I won’t do to win $1 million. You want me to slap my mom on television, I’ll do it,” said Mark Weisbarth Jr., a 26-year-old aspiring rapper from San Mateo, who rapped during his audition. “This is a chance of a lifetime.”

Calloway, who brought along her 8-year-old son, said if chosen, she’d rely on the mediation skills she picked up while living with three brothers along with her outdoor experience to help get ahead. But if push came to shove, she’d find other ways to win.

“I wouldn’t have sex with anyone, but nudity, oh yeah, I’d do that, no problem,” she said. “It might scare the viewers but it wouldn’t bother me.”

“Being raised in an Italian family, there’s a lot of yelling, screaming and manipulating, and that’s truly made me mentally tough,” said Castro, who admits there’s a good chance he’s going through a little midlife crisis. “And I’ll eat earthworms, squirrels, roadkill. Being from an Italian family, I’ve eaten cow brains and pigs feet, and that’s gross.”

When it came to winning on “Survivor,” guys said they were willing to sell out their girlfriends. Brothers said they would stab each other in the back if necessary. No lie would be too big if that was the price of victory. It was all very life-affirming.

“I can be evil, but only if I need to be. But for a million dollars, I’m on it,” said Jennifer Hansen, 25, of Santa Rosa.

Michael Gacsaly, 46, of Walnut Creek said it was all part of the game, something even his 12-year-old daughter can understand.

“One time we were watching the show, and she said if I got on the show, I could tell people that she died” to gain sympathy, said Gacsaly, beaming at her daughter Riel. “I’m proud she comes up with her own ideas. She’s a good game player, too.”

I’m wondering when the network execs will stop bothering to come up with some pretense for their reality shows and just start naming them for what they are. Can you imagine?

NEXT UP ON ABC: BACKSTABBING LYING ASSHOLES BICKER AND FIGHT OVER THE COURSE OF AN HOUR FOR YOUR AMUSEMENT!

9 thoughts on ““Survivor” brings out the worst in aspiring contestants.

  1. I think that’s a little bit too much truth in advertising for the networks to handle.

    But that’s how I’ve thought of them since the second series (the first time I tuned in for more than ten seconds).

  2. Oh, Les, truer words were never spoken.

    I have never watched Survivor.  I can’t stand reality shows.  It upsets me to see people being mean to each other.  I hate it enough in real life; WHY would I want to watch more of it for entertainment?  People being stupid, and mean, and conniving, and embarrassing themselves … isn’t that the most depressing thing?  If not, why not?  Why is that supposed to be fun?

    I truly believe that the fact that shows like this are popular is a clear indication of how much civility and empathy have disappeared from our national psyche.  And it really isn’t too much more of a step to explain how we got to Abu Ghraib.

    (captcha:  state)

  3. NEXT UP ON ABC: BACKSTABBING LYING ASSHOLES BICKER AND FIGHT OVER THE COURSE OF AN HOUR FOR YOUR AMUSEMENT!

    Isn’t that what most of the daytime talk shows are anyway? smile

  4. It upsets me to see people being mean to each other.  I hate it enough in real life; WHY would I want to watch more of it for entertainment?

    I wish that would fit on a bumper sticker, GM – please enroll me in your fan club!

    Reality shows are ratcheting it up from earlier television.  Typical sitcom: someone gets into a compromising situation and lies to cover it up.  Madcap adventure ensues as they pile one lie on another to cover up their earlier lies.  The earliest genre example I can think of is Oscar Wilde’s Importance Of Being Earnest but it reads exactly like an episode of Fraser, or even I Love Lucy.

    You are so right about Abu Gharib.  If they’d just produced it as an episode of Fear Factor and paid the prisoners, it probably would have gotten boffo ratings.

  5. Good point about the sitcoms, DOF.  That’s a milder version, but still the same dynamics, and that’s why I don’t like to watch most of THOSE, either.  Watching someone lie and waiting for them to get caught (usually in some horribly climactic embarrassing way) isn’t my idea of fun either.

    Abu Ghraib as Fear Factor.  Yeesh.  The one and only time I ever watched the show was when Penn and Teller were on, and I ended up fast-forwarding through a lot of stuff.  But I really liked the way Penn needled one of the contestants, a woman who took herself way too seriously.  I guess she signed up for humiliation, but not THAT kind. grin

    (captcha:  single)

  6. “I truly believe that the fact that shows like this are popular is a clear indication of how much civility and empathy have disappeared from our national psyche.  And it really isn’t too much more of a step to explain how we got to Abu Ghraib.”

    Geekmom, if I were the embroidering type, I’d embroider this on a bedsheet and hang it over my front door, where the “Home Sweet Home” pleasantries usually reside.
    I don’t see a huge ethical difference between the bad apples torturing civilians at Abu Ghraib and the little verminettes at Enron screwing over Grandma Millie.  It’s a matter of degree, if anything.  If the reality shows have illustrated anything useful, it’s that empathy and reasoned argument aren’t considered virtues to a sizable percentage of our republic. 
    People like this used to be called assholes.  Now they’re called “Yes, Sir.”  WTF????

  7. While surfing the web late at night, I came across a “reality show” called Joe Schmoe or somesuch.

    The point is that every single person on the show, except the contestant, is actually a plant, pretending that they’re voting, negotiating, and such, but it’s all a ruse to trick the one person who doesn’t know what’s going on.

    Having never watched a reality show since an episode of the first “Road Rules” on MTV years ago, I thought it was quite a refreshing twist on the whole genre. Totally contrived farce without apology.

    Anyone else seen it?

  8. backstabbing lying assholes bickering?

    I can get that on C-SPAN, preferably without the snide commentary of ABC’s clueless pundits.

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