18 castaways, 39 days, one sole Survivor! This is just one of the well known catchphrase spoken from the charismatic mouth of the one and only Jeff Probst season after season. He is the host of the hit reality show Survivor and must be doing an exquisite job if the show has been running and still is since the year 2000 and is in its 26th season. This has to be one of my favourite shows not only just from the challenges, drama and conflicting personalities that all add to the entertainment factor, but also brings up social issues to the notion of the ‘Public Sphere’. This concept might seem a little confusing but is the complete opposite as we are constantly being exposed to issues within it. Mr Jurgen Habermas is the man behind the concept and defines it as “the space in which citizens debate about common concerns”. It is also an open forum where anyone can put forth their voice. The media now plays a role in the concept of public sphere which is otherwise known as the ‘Mediated public sphere’. This is where survivor currently lay’s as well as most reality TV shows. Even though these reality shows are a form of the mediated public sphere, it is in a much more trivialised and is much more mockable *cough* A Current Affair *cough*.
So what has survivor been doing that has prolonged its existence for 26 seasons? It entertaining because it causes a stir with key social issue that are very much prevalent in today’s society. It implies to the audience through a game show type setting, issue’s such as the formation of relationships, lying, deceit, body image and strict contrasts in beliefs, personalities, sexualities, races, age etc.
This is the 13th season: Survivor Cook Islands. Even though this is just the intro to the show, do you see the issues brought to the public sphere? The four tribes are divided by their race, into Latinos, Asians, African American and Caucasian. This might imply current divides in American culture due to race. Even as I was scrolling down the comments I came across one ignorant viewer that stated “It’s ironic that the top 5 best characters this season are Adam, Jonathan, Flicka, Parvati and Candice” who are all from the caucasian tribe. This season caused up roar and reinforced race issues within American culture to this day, plus did I mention its portrayed through a game show with fake torches and sexy bikini bodies? Surely that can’t be true, but that’s what a ‘mediated’ public sphere is.
Furthermore, this tribal council when I watched it snuggled up on my couch wearing my survivor buff (just kidding) I thought it was the most hilarious/entertaining/fiery tribal council I’ve ever seen.
But now after learning the notion of the ‘mediated public sphere’, so many issues have come rushing to me out of nowhere. There is obviously strong contrasting personalities on this tribe. The loudmouth southern white man, the chilled out surfer dude, the stereotypical black woman conveniently called ‘Na onka’, the disabled woman and the ‘supposed’ gay guy. These are just the ingrediants for a total explosion. The producers want to make it challenging for the castaways to form healthy relationships. The castaways lying and cheating makes it even harder for this to happen. The loudmouth southern man (Shannon) is also an obvious homophobe by out of nowhere questioning and attacking Sash’s sexuality and using where he lives against him stating “there are a lot of gay people in New York”. Aside from the controversial personalities, look at the cast. How many of them are ugly? Virtually none. Who doesn’t like watching hot women and men frolicking around in tattered rags? Does this still indicate pretentiousness towards image? As you can tell, I’TS ABSOLUTELY BONKERS!
These are just many underlying social issues that are addressed in a seemingly trivial television show. But who cares, I just want to know who wins the million!!