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Strategic Overview of Survivor, Episode 1: Those Who Don't Know History...by Jeffrey D. Sadow -- 09/21/2007
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Another season of Survivor has sprung and my initial reaction getting a look at the players was both good and bad. The former because this bunch seems more into the game and less there for face time, but the latter because they don’t seem particularly suited for playing it, as a whole.
Still, one could say looking at Earl’s data prior to last season that he didn’t show much special capability, but he turned in one of the finer performances in series history (although maybe his coming onto the show at the last minute had something to do with his profile not suggesting much special), so who knows?
But before getting into the episode, CBS must be taken to task for presenting a patently false view of what today’s communist People’s Republic of China is all about. You’d believe with the initial Buddhist ceremony that Red China is a place that respects religious belief. It is not. The government persecutes the Catholic Church, makes it illegal, and tries to pass off a state creation as the official Church. Catholic lay believers and religious have died in Chinese prisons because of their faith.
Regarding Buddhism, China refuses to give autonomy to Tibet and to allow Tibetans to practice freely their own style of Buddhism. Religious freedom does not exist in the People’s Republic, and CBS should be ashamed to have allowed it to be used as a propaganda vehicle concerning religious freedom for communist China.
On to more pleasant matters, unless your name is Chicken… his ushering out of the game came largely at his own hand. Since I have brought politics already into this piece, let’s take a look at political history of which Chicken seemed unaware. Before the Civil War, the two main political parties in America were the Whigs and Democrats. The latter, with much support historically in the South, as a whole supported slavery. But rather than oppose slavery, the former tried to avoid the issue, fearing it would offend too many potential voters. For these efforts, the anti-slavery Republican Party came up out of nowhere, and not only supplanted the Whigs but became the majority party in America while the Whigs died out. Lesson: if you don’t address the important issues of the day, you become irrelevant and unneeded by anybody. Chicken didn’t address the important issues at camp, and thus became expendable.
But more interestingly, voting him out may have been a mistake for Dave and Peih-Gee. Already there seems to have developed a young/old divide on the tribe and those two and Chicken were on the short end of the stick. Peih-Gee did not seem to realize this and voted for Chicken instead of Ashley – a switch which could have sent the wrestler off. First impression are this tribe is going to need some steady mature direction and while Dave for now seems safe from the young ’uns, it’s unlikely he can provide the necessary amount all by himself and Peih-Gee could be next on the chopping block.
Elsewhere, nascent coalitions may be in the offing. Jean-Robert and Todd may wish to team up in order not to waste their deviousness on each other, while all but Leslie are making a mistake in not aligning with James. He looks to be the kind of guy everybody will love into the merge, and then when immunity challenges become individual, they will want to dump him unless he has allies. Leslie is smart to get past his taciturn nature and they could form a potent duo. Meanwhile, Courtney’s “Mikey” attitude (“he hates everything”) threatens not to serve her well at all.
As always, it’s difficult to describe and evaluate strategy in its nascent emergence, so hopefully next episode will give us much more material on which to assess it.
If you haven’t already done so, make sure to check out the other Episode 1 columns already posted:
Jeffrey D. Sadow is an associate professor of political science at Louisiana State University in Shreveport where he teaches, among other things, classes in international politics, international organizations, and diplomatic history. He has published in the area of gaming simulations in international politics.
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