Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Survivor And The Homecoming Queen

I watched the finale of Survivor on Sunday night and once again was interested in the outcome.
As like last season, Russell made it to the end, and once again, didn't win. He plays with such strategy and scheming, it's hard to argue that he largely controlled the game from Day 1. So, why does a win keep alluding him?

Here's my take, and something Russell doesn't seem to understand.

While the game may be "outlast, outwit, outplay," things he does very well, in the end it comes down to a popularity contest. Russell just doesn't seem to get the whole social aspect of the game, and he makes no apologies for that fact. The problem is that without that concept in your mind while playing the game, winning will constantly allude.

We all know that in life, it's not the smartest or even the kindest that always takes home the prize. If you look at the American "Homecoming Queen" contest, as an example, we can see clearly that it's not often the smartest girl that wins. It usually isn't the "nicest" girl that wins. It usually boils down to the most popular girl, and that girl could even be a downright "Mean Girl" that gets the crown. She could be most popular out of fear or manipulation, riches or looks, or she could just very well be the smartest and kindest.

The thing with Russell is that there is a way of voting people out, while keeping their ever fragile egos in place. Game players tend to go out with their humility intact when there is a little ego stroking involved too. Those of you who watch the show know what I'm talking about-the oft used, "you were just too much of a threat!" Russell, instead, makes sure they know they are going out because HE wanted them to and because HE is the the best, strongest, smartest player around. This makes those voted off feel patronized and make them see Russell with an unrivaled hatred. They certainly aren't going to write his name down on that last night.

I know that Survivor is just a reality show. I do think though that the "Survival" aspect is second to the greater social experiment that the game exposes and represents. In real life, and in Survivor, it's those with smarts, cunning, and a pervasive charm that end up on top.

A little honey goes a long way when asking someone to dole out money they think should ultimately be their own. That could also apply to time, trust, favours and more.

Survivor, to me, really is a larger version of another familiar game.
The Game of Life.

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