Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Survivor Cook Islands: Metaphor For The Sequential Attrition Of The Human Races?

Reality TV Show throws 4 major racial types together; Asians demonstrate superiority, or do they?

Yule, a Harvard graduate of Korean extraction, won what he described as the ‘morality tale’ that was Survivor Cook Islands.

Tight Unit

The unprecedented cohesion of Yule’s tribe, along with Ozzie’s born-to-play incredible skill and athleticism, meant they were able to knock off 8 consecutive rival tribe members. So if there is one lesson to be learned from this, it is the power of trust, and the cohesiveness that comes from playing as a solid unit.

“The Rat”

The pivotal player in the game proved to Jonathan, a white male who proved to be the undoing of the hapless rival tribe, and through his treacheries (abandoning first one tribe, then betraying the tribe he’d joined), he managed to extend his time in the game for a short period. But incurring the wrath – not all of it appeared deserved - of many of his tribal companions is an obvious and fatal mistake. In fairness, Candice (a European female) also abandoned her tribe, demonstrating a lack of cohesion (on her part) that proved important. But both these players stirred up and exposed what may have been otherwise hidden emotions.

Crucially, Yule also made the vital discovery on Exile Island, of the immunity idol. This in combination with intelligent strategy, proved to be decisive.

The final 5 on Cook Islands comprised 1 African American female, 1 European male, 1 Hispanic male, and 2 Asians, one male, one female. The original unit voted off Adam, the white male, despite a last ditch sensible effort to stir up the tribe against the most obvious threat: Yule.

Balancing Act

The final challenge involved balancing on a very narrow wooden stake set into hip deep baby blue tropical waters. Becky (Asian female) fell off early on, followed much later by Yule, who appeared to be on the right track, lowering his centre of gravity. For perhaps an hour longer, Ozzie (Hispanic male) and Sundra (African American female) went head to head. It was a very close contest, but Sundra finally gave in, giving up immunity to Ozzie.

Moral Imperatives?

The morality game went into overtime at the penultimate Tribal Council: Ozzie had asked for a ‘fair’ game, and that’s how it went. With Yule having the immunity idol, and his choosing not to give it to Becky, and Ozzie holding the immunity necklance, votes were tied as intended. The final challenge proved a test of nerve, and perhaps a game of luck, as both players – Becky (Asian female) and Sundra (African American Female) toiled for over an hour, unsuccessfully attempting to light their fires. Show host Jeff Probst then offered them matches and after some time, Sundra had exhausted hers. Becky calmly started and built her fire, and won her place in the final 3.

The Jury

The bottomline, according to the Jury, was this: relationships. The person who deserves to win is the person who acted smart, and who formed the most relationships: not the individual (Ozzie) or the coat-tail rider (Becky). Korean Yule Kwon won. Why? Yule earned respect for leadership, loyalty, effort, intelligence, and decisive influence. Are these the key traits for survival? Are the Asians likely to inherit the Earth? Possibly. But not necessarily.

How Real Reality TV?

Posed another way: could the Survivor metaphor play out? Could these numbers be predictive? Richard Heinberg describes several scenarios in which the world will ‘play out’ as resources deplete* (as is currently happening, at an accelerated rate). One** is literally defined as Last Man Standing. It is, as the name suggests, a winner takes all approach, which may involve temporary alliances, but ultimately sees survival in terms of a single group. Heinberg believes the USA will adopt this ‘Ozzie’ based approach. Will other nations? Will it work? Survivor initially is based on alliances, but never on a 100% ‘Last Man Standing’ mentality, yet the individual approach, the independent self reliant route does work. It is important to notice: in order to extend one’s longevity, in order to make it to the very end (in the Survivor Game anyway), relationships, alliances and friendships matter.

In the End Game of the world, which has been described as The Infinite War (a war for resources) it is an important to assess which play will be most effective: The Yule Game (one of morality, relationships and team play), or the Ozzie Game (each man for himself, individual ability, self reliance).

For starters, the world of men is a worryingly immoral morass. Nevertheless, there are fundamental laws of nature, laws of attraction, rules that nevertheless govern the morass. In my opinion, strategy, team work, relationships will be useful but incidental. In the huge storms that mankind will see unleashed, stamina and internal resolve may well prove far more decisive for survival through resilience, survival despite massive nuclear contamination.

As the world’s flame dwindles and dies, the planet’s human population finally descends into dire chaos, with weather, disease and war working together towards an increasingly targeted attrition of the human community. In planetary terms, this ‘human community’ is more accurately defined as a highly malignant cancer in human proportions, a melanoma that has gotten wildly unstable, and dangerously out of control, threatening the viability of the host and all other systems. This cancer becomes is a dwindling fugitive fleet, where luck, effort, ingenuity and individual efforts matter less and less. Continuity may be based in the final sum on a singular resource, more than another, or any other combination: Endurance.

*Resources include: energy for fuel, energy for and from food, decreasing land for human habitation, decreased fresh water supplies, decreased overall security of resources (in urban suburban and rural areas) – or increased crime – and finally, decreasing numbers of overall species on the planet. Also relevant, increases in diseases and general uncertainty.

**Other scenarios include: Powerdown: the path of cooperation, conservation, and sharing;
Waiting for a Magic Elixir: wishful thinking, false hopes, and denial;
Building Lifeboats: the path of community solidarity and preservation.

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