I’ll admit that I was only halfway paying attention to Survivor tonight, but it sounds like some women lied about someone’s physical contact making them uncomfortable (exaggerated their discomfort?) and then lied about their lying. They discuss the harassment, bond over the shared (miserable) experience. And then I hear “You tell her how uncomfortable you are … like, you have a very open mom/daughter moment about how uncomfortable you are. Right now, that’s our only play.” Our only play?!?
After someone else got voted off the island, Janet explains to Dan why she “turned” on him. Reasonable move, and if (as the show claims) they had a group meeting about respecting personal boundaries and an individual meeting with Dan that included a warning about his behavior … I’m not sure how it’s news to the dude why people were voting for him. Dan talks to Missy and Elizabeth and is told that Janet is lying to him. I mean, I know that the narrative gets built in editing and all … but it’s not like they’re selectively including the three times someone mentioned it to make it seem like something that’s a constant topic of conversation and the person says “I mentioned it once or twice, but I wasn’t making a huge deal about it”. If you never said that … there wouldn’t be footage to include. I was glad that Janet got all four of them together instead of allowing the other women to tell different stories to different people, but the ultimate resolution of their discussion seemed to be “well, Janet, you misunderstood and it got blown out of proportion”. Not “yes, I lied about this”.
Now, I’d understand if they decided that, yeah, dude makes them uncomfortable. But they were going to suck it up to retain their position in the game. I don’t want my alliance to think I’m untrustworthy, so I cannot vote out “one of us”. That would have been a rare bit of actual reality in “reality tv”. I’ve endured uncomfortable situations because I wanted to keep getting a paycheque. But the discomfort was truth. And I didn’t band together with a group of women, agreeing to discuss the problem with HR, only to tell HR that I never saw anything inappropriate. Tthe entire situation was disgusting – gee, why are people hesitant to believe someone who claims to be harassed – and I have a bad feeling that the “drama” is meant to be a hook for the show.
The ethos (or lack there-of) in Survivor has been part of the game since the second episode. Once contestants realized how the game worked, they figured out how to work the game. While lying with integrity is difficult to conceptualize, there are different types of lies told during the game … there’s a significant difference between maintaining multiple alliances or telling someone they’re not mentioned for the vote tonight and claiming that someone is harassing you and then telling that person you never said it. Working the game seems to rely on other players not becoming privy to the information we, as viewers, have. And I wonder what impact it would have on the ethics of the game if the endgame was tweaked. Once the final contestants were selected, and the members of the jury are known … take a few days break before the vote. Allow the production team to do some rough editing for broadcast footage. And then allow the jury to watch the show. Sure, content editing creates a story for each person and it’s a skewed view of the individual. But the final vote would more-or-less be cast with the same information viewers have. The jury thinks it is a shrewd move to use sexual harassment as a ‘play’ in the game and still votes for one of those women? That’s a lot different than jurors thinking Janet blew it out of proportion and only one contestant had complained about the guy.