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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Live-Blogging Survivor: Cook Islands, ep.3

This post will be the placeholder for my Survivor live-blogging tonight, which will occur at 7pm MT. Again, I encourage you to hang out on this blog during that hour and watch the show with me -- just refresh this page to watch the comments rolling in. I do have an announcement to make (and thus the placeholder): earlier this week, I smooshed my finger in the car-door, resulting in a nasty bruise on my left middle finger and a purple, throbbing nail. While this makes for a lovely accent when I'm flipping folks the bird, it makes my usual 100wpm touch-typing a difficult chore. This largely explains why I've been silent on this blog all week; I have lots to say but am unsure I want to approach typing it out for another couple of days. As such, I will attempt to live-blog the episode, but I may fall behind, over the course of the hour. My apologies in advance! 6:59 We're back and the episode re-cap is on. The Black tribe dance around their new fire, Jonathan, the Chicken Thief, thinks his tribe (the White tribe) is lazy as they spent another night in a coconut-milk-induced bender. The Latino tribe (Aitu) dedcides on a short-sighted move to oust Bizarre Billy who translates a half-hearted "cheer up" sentiment from White Candice into the love of his life. Meanwhile, Yul (aka S.A.M., Super Asian Man) deciphers the clues on Exile Island and scores the immunity idol, bringing new meaning to the phrase "model minority". 7:06 Following the opening credits and a brief commercial break, the Latino tribe returns to camp where they can't help but gossip about Bizarre Billy and his "love at first sight" thing. The tribe is skeptical -- understandably; after re-watching the episode several times and figuring out which exchange Bizarre Billy was talking about, it was downright "stalker"-ish. At the Asian American tribe, Cao Boi (whom I affectionately call Mr. Miyagi), rambles about the draft, the war, being Vietnamese and... okay, let's face it, I don't really understand what he was saying except it seemed somewhat anti-American and anti-American Dream. Either way, Pinoy Brad has the most screentime yet describing Miyagi as "not quite there" and probably never going to shut up. 7:10 At the challenge, Jeff Probst drops a bombshell -- the tribes drop their buffs and are about to "integrate". No, guys, not "merge", as is standard Survivor lingo; Probst uses the word "integrate" -- a loaded word in "race politics", reminiscent of Brown vs. Board of Education. It's pretty clear to me that the choice of wording was not accidental. Pinoy Brad, Chicken Thief, Parvati and Cecilia are randomly chosen as new tribe leaders. Note the two men and two women chosen -- the tribes must be divided by gender, and you cannot choose from your own tribe (meaning that this is true "integration" as by definition this demands equal representation from all four races). As they new tribes are chosen, I'm going to take a minute to say: I'm surprised that the "integration" is occuring so quickly -- and it's sort of anti-climatic to get all of us all riled up over race-based tribes that only lasted three episodes. If ever there was doubt that the race-based thing was just a ratings stunt, here is the proof: Burnett kept us pissed off just long enough to get us watching, then ditched the set-up before it could be intepreted as making a commentary about racial superiority. Back to what's going on: the four tribes choose eggs, which contain two different colours -- i.e., a blue tribe and a red tribe. The male tribe that chose the blue egg joins with the female tribe that chose the blue egg and vice versa, resulting in two "integrated" uber-tribes (which are now so large I'm going to be confused trying to re-learn the tribe membership for weeks). 7:19 Turns out the two tribes are now separated into Aitu and Raro. Am I reading too much into it to note that the two tribes who got to retain their names are the White Tribe and the "Hispanic" tribe? It's not like these two tribes had the best camps, so what's up with that? At Integrated Raro, the tribemates compare notes about the race-based stunt and several of the White tribemates are captured on film saying that they didn't care about race, and thought that it was better to get integrated. 7:22 After Miyagi and Flicka, the Pony Girl, bond as the two "outcast"-types on their tribe, Cecilia asks Candice if there really was a "love at first sight" connection with Bizarre Billy. Candice, in the episode's comedic highlight, looks like a terrified deer caught in the headlights and immediately explains the situation that we thankfully saw edited into last week's episode: it literally was a throw-away turn of phrase, that got completely misinterpreted. 7:23 Back at Raro, Parvati mentions that she's taken by all the "manly" men on her new tribe, and decides to target Nate for her feminine wiles. She's going to "work him", she says. Uh-huh. Talk about taking sexism three steps back; Survivor always has to include that one female contestant who thinks the best way to survive is to whore herself to the "strongest" male. 7:25 Becky, Candice, S.A.M., and Chicken Thief make an interracial alliance almost immediately. At this point, I'm pretty sure that Burnette and all those race-denialists who developed this show with an agenda are thrilled in how this "social experiment" seems to have proven that race is not strong enough to withstand forced "integration". Chicken Thief thinks he can pull Pony Girl in, but Pony Girl talks about "bad vibrations" in her last tribe and describes that she doesn't want to stay in the same alliance. Becky and S.A.M. discuss who they want to align with -- and S.A.M. confides in her that he found the immunity idol. Gotta wonder which head he's thinking with there? Don't get me wrong, Becky seems like a cool girl who won't betray S.A.M.'s trust, but then again, he's known her for, what, four days? I'm pretty sure that she being a cute girl has a lot to do with how he's acting right now. 7:31 Nate uses the fishing spear to catch an octopus. They come back to the tribe, and Parvati says, and I quote, "That's a lot of meat!" while looking Nate up and down. Ew! Ew! Ew! I just can't get around the Sambo/Missy Anne connotations. Why does Parvati sound like a 1-900 number? 7:33 At the immunity challenge, it's the "race with sandbags" challenge (or the challenge where Probst gets off having enough control to make fifteen people do the stupidest things he can imagine) where the tribes are instructed to run in a circle in knee-deep water weighted down with sandbags until one tribe is able to catch the other and tackle them. This is a classical Survivor challenge that is basically an endurance run, and which shows the inherent gender-bias of the challenges: invariably, the women drop out within three rotations and the men just turn in circles until one gets tired. Why the women drop out I have no idea since all the women were obviously strong enough to sit on the sidelines and cheer, but in this case, it seems to have not paid off, as Raro which kept the women in longer to distribute the weight evenly, quickly overtakes Aitu, the tribe that dropped their women out quickly. Message? Women can carry things and walk in circles too, ya big dumb oxen men. Don't underestimate us. Of interest, S.A.M., as the guy at the end of the rope in the Aitu tribe, actually turned and squatted like a feral jungle man, in hopes of fighting off Raro seconds before they were going to win. Uhm -- why? Although it kinda looked cool, it was really pointless. Before heading back to camp, the victorious Raro chooses Candice from the losing Aitu tribe to go to Exile Island. Therefore, my prediction is that Mr. Miyagi will be voted out at Tribal Council tonight. He offers nothing to the tribe, is too weak to be useful at challenges, and ... well... he makes Asian dog-eating jokes. He has just got to go -- being able to heal migraines with a touch of a calloused thumb only goes so far. 7:42 Back at the Aitu tribe, we see two alliances vying for control: one alliance is Chicken Thief, S.A.M. and Becky and the other is Ozzy, Cristina, Mr. Miyagi, Pony Girl and Cecilia. It is interesting to note that the Whites and Asians essentially came together, and the Latinos and the Black girl came together to form another alliance. Candice had been the other part of the White & Asian alliance, but now that she's in Exile Island, the W&A alliance is up shit-creek. The Brown and Outcasts alliance target Becky, and Pony Girl, in particular, breaks down her alliance with Chicken Thief because she gets "bad vibes" from Becky. So, I guess I have to eat my words, because the two castaways who are being targeted are Cecilia and Becky, and Miyagi and Pony Girl, as the two "outcasts" are actually the swing votes. Miyagi lives to make more Vietnamese jokes another day. (Incidentally, all of you guys googling "what do you call a Vietnamese who owns three dogs" and are pulling up these posts, looking for the punchline of that racist joke: shame! Shame!) Given this turn of events, I have to predict the early snuffing out of Becky. 7:49 Back at Tribal Council, Probst again asks the castmates about the division of tribes based on "ethnicity". Again, he asks a White guy, who gives the stock, White answer: race doesn't matter, and there was nothing wrong with this stunt. He really needs to ask someone, nay anyone, else that question before we start taking him seriously. 7:51 After some rather boring Q&A between Probst and Integrated Aitu, the tribemates vote. Miyagi makes a big show of "meditating" over his piece of paper before he writes a name down. Pony Girl, too, makes a show of "being conflicted" about her vote. I roll my eyes. Since it's pretty clear that Becky will be voted out, the question is whether S.A.M. is truly thinking with the wrong head and will use his immunity idol to save Becky. 7:54 Wow -- okay, again, I have to eat my words. It turns out that the Outcasts actually did switch back to the White & Asian alliance (making it truly White & Asian, since the only people left in the Brown alliance, now, are Brown people) and voted out Cecilia. It was probably a good move on the Outcasts' part, since they stand to wield more power by proving themselves to be a swing vote that needs to be lobbied by both sides. And the S.A.M./Becky sexual tension survives for another episode. Incidentally, I want to take this minute to ask -- did anyone else catch why people were drinking the Becky Haterade? She hasn't really been prominent enough for us to assess anything about her role in camp. Is she a princess? Or is she just too in-tight with S.A.M.? Well, at the end of the episode, my biggest question is whether all of us silly bloggers blogging about Survivor: Race Wars will lose interest after the end of the Jim Crow equivalent of reality television, or, if Burnett is giving us a Brief History of Race in America, will we stay tuned for what he comes up with to represent the Black Panther Party era? Next week: Parvati gets frustrated with having live with those same manly men she's been throwing herself at, and Mr. Miyagi kills a baby bird.

5 Comments:

Anonymous philly jay said...

For some reason I'm not surprised there is a white&asian alliance formed.Makes perfect sense :)

9/29/2006 12:26:00 AM  
Anonymous philly jay said...

And you bring up a good question at the end.Now that the race tribe thing is over, will it still be as interesting.

9/29/2006 12:28:00 AM  
Blogger XicanoPwr said...

It is a good question, but I wonder how much of an influence bloggers had on this. It probably was in an indirect way. I think the sponsors were afraid so it probably was them who twisted CBS' arm to stop this nonsense. I was surprised to see how fast they intergrated them.

9/29/2006 12:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Mac said...

"It is a good question, but I wonder how much of an influence bloggers had on this. It probably was in an indirect way. I think the sponsors were afraid so it probably was them who twisted CBS' arm to stop this nonsense. I was surprised to see how fast they intergrated them."
I have to disagree somewhat. Yeah they're no longer seperated by race, but that racial dynamic is still there to a certain degree. Hell if you really look at it it's been there for all the Survivors. The only difference is they just brought it out to the front this season.

9/29/2006 06:20:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Mac, I do agree. The "integration" doesn't eliminate the race wars in this season. The castaways are highly racialized now, because of the initial separation, and they are profoundly aware of their racial makeup. It also produces a filter for us, as the audience, in interpreting their actions and interactions.

9/29/2006 08:30:00 PM  

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