Outwit, Outplay, Outlast, Tolerate Being Eaten Alive By Mosquitos!
Another season of Survivor has come to an end and I’ll be sad until the new season starts in the spring, because frankly, Survivor is the shit. My favorite castaway to win the million dollars and title of Sole Survivor was openly gay Mormon good guy, Rafe Judkins. Rafe managed to strategize and sweet talk his way into the final four in an almost perfect combination of staying in integrity and voting out the people I just couldn’t stand anymore. Go Rafe!
I Heart Rafe
Sadly, Rafe was outwitted, outplayed and outlasted by sports announcer-jock-model Dani Boatwrigtht, a dark horse favorite to be sure. Dani easily won the million bucks by choosing to take Stephenie LaGrossa (from last season’s Survivor Palau) with her to the final two. Steph had become the sort of Rock Star of this go-round due to her ridiculous good looks, physical strength and underdog status from last season. The thing is, nobody wanted Stephenie to win because she’d already had a chance and blown it. So Dani won the million bucks by a landslide, and I’m okay with that, because she played a good game. I still think we’ll be seeing Rafe in possibly an upcoming season of The Amazing Race or as a talk show host on the Logo network, or something. Rafe is definitely one of my favorite Survivors, ever.
Survivors ask, “Will we be able to eat the car?”
For me, the crowning “can you believe that just happened?” highlight of the season was when Cindy won a big fat SUV and was then given the option to give up that car so that Steph, Rafe, Lydia and Dani could all have cars. And while I’m sitting there thinking, Well there is no hesitation here, she’ll give up the car, she turns around and keeps it! What a selfish cow. But I think that Heather Havrilesky of Salon.com said it best. Here are Heather’s comments on The Cindy Debacle from Monday’s Salon column:
Last week, Cindy won the reward challenge, which meant she won a brand new Pontiac Torrent, which is a bubbly-looking midsize SUV. But wait, there’s a twist! Soon after winning, host Jeff Probst gave her another option: Give up the brand-new car, and the other four contestants will each get a brand-new car of his or her own!
OK, chickens. Answer me this: Who pauses to think at this point? What kind of a mind wraps itself around that question and comes up with any answer other than “I’ll give up the car, Jeff!” Four people get brand-new cars, four people, one of whom has never owned her own car in her entire life. Who could even consider taking a new car for herself, knowing that she cheated four people out of that experience?
And that’s without factoring in the millions of people watching. When you consider all those people out there, millions of people, lots of them young and impressionable, watching as you decide between doing the right thing, or doing the selfish thing?
“But hey, it’s just a game,” you say, so let’s cast all moral considerations aside and consider the game. No matter how they feel about you, I guarantee you that the other contestants would be physically unable to vote you out, after you gave them all cars. By giving up your car, you might just have won yourself a million dollars — you’d at least have a great shot at it.
And then you throw in the long-term picture: You give up the car, and millions of people are watching. Here’s what happens next: 1) Everyone at camp loves you, and feels a personal sense of obligation to make sure you make it into the final three at the very least, 2) everyone at home goes “Awww, that was so nice of her!” which means that 3) you’ll be sitting down with Katie Couric and Matt Lauer and God knows who else to discuss your huge, generous heart, which means that 4) you’ll demand a good sum as a public speaker for a few years and 5) you might just earn a hefty sum for appearing in a few print ads and, hey, even if you don’t want any of that stuff 6) you can spend the rest of your life with your head held high, knowing that you did the right thing.
Now let’s look at what happens when you keep the car: 1) Everyone at camp instantly dislikes you, and for a very good reason, 2) everyone at home goes “Ewww” and tries to pry your mean little face out of their minds forever, 3) you get voted off at the next tribal council, 4) not even the host of “The Early Show” on CBS really wants to speak to you, 5) your 15 minutes of fame are reduced to five minutes and 6) you spend the rest of your life known as the Selfish, Morally Bankrupt Idiot Who Sold Her Soul for a Pontiac.
When Cindy paused, I groaned, but thought there was no way in hell she would screw the others just to keep the car for herself. Not so. Not only did she keep the car, but she spent the next few days at camp talking about how friggin’ fantastic the car was, how much she loved it, how she couldn’t believe how lucky she was. She was voted out that night, of course.
I mean, look, even if you have no values or morals whatsoever, it’s a terrible choice. Here’s what you do if you’re a cynic and an ethically bereft opportunist: You say, “Oh, Jeff. I soooo want that Pontiac Torrent, with its stylish leather seats and its roomy five-passenger interior. I’ve been coveting that car ever since I read its excellent review in Road and Driver magazine. Ask my mom! I have a picture of it on my mirror. But you know what? If I love that car, I know these guys — and I consider each one of them a close friend now that we’ve been through so much together — I know that they’ll love that car just as much as I do. To be able to give them all cars! What a great feeling!” And then, turning to the other contestants, who are by now squealing and breaking down into sobs: “I love you guys! Congratulations!”
Next, you either win the $1 million or you don’t, but either way, I personally guarantee you that not only does a representative from Pontiac drive a brand new Torrent up to your door, but you become a spokeswoman for the Pontiac Torrent for the next year and earn some serious walking-around money.
I know I sound like I’m obsessed with this situation, and that’s because I am. I just can’t believe how anyone could be so unthinkably selfish and so disastrously short-sighted at the same time. Contestants Danni and Rafe were flabbergasted to the point of laughing out loud in disbelief, which you’d think would be everyone’s reaction. Not so! Lydia told Cindy that she made the right decision, and Stephanie said it didn’t even occur to her that anyone would do anything but take the car. She thought Rafe’s comment that he never, ever would’ve taken the car was just a lot of holier-than-thou posturing.
Imagine that! To not only refuse to even consider giving four cars away instead of taking one, but also to think that anyone who says that they’d consider it must be full of shit!
Look, we’re all busy and we all have our own factories to run, usually with limited resources. But it’s downright disconcerting how different we are from each other, ethically. That reward challenge wasn’t a choice, it was just a veiled opportunity, courtesy of the producers, to do something generous and honorable, if not just to appear generous and honorable. Seeing someone turn down that chance is like wandering into your neighbor’s house and finding a herd of preteen girls sewing together Gap sweatshirts until their fingers bleed.
The kicker — this is what Cindy’s mom told the local paper about her: “She’s not into materialistic things. Her philosophy is that you take what you need and then you give back the rest. She’s a true environmentalist.”