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Yo Yo Yo, Ken Got Dissed Off; or Should Ken Have Been Voted Out?by Peggy Keller -- 11/19/2002
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As we slip past the midway point of Survivor: Thailand, all the time waiting for something to happen, I realized what it was about the show this year that makes it suck. Burnett, or whoever he handed the reins to, must have fallen asleep in creative writing 101. When you write a story, and that does apply to Survivor even though it is a reality series with nothing scripted, the second rule is to show, not tell. The first rule is to write what you know. This applies to acting and all other forms of creative pursuits. Survivor works because it is not just a bunch of people on a beach starving and playing reindeer games, but a continually unfolding human drama. Burnett masterfully takes the raw footage that he has and edits it to create a story by showing us one person's behavior and how the others respond to it. For instance. Robb telling Shii Ann to show him her hands was a great moment. Drama escalated to the point of confrontation. Shii Ann telling the camera that she was the "Shii Devil" was a perfect follow up.
Unfortunately, there have been too few moments like that this year. We had Brian mocking Ken with a very ignorant tone around the campfire, which might have been funny if we had actually seen Ken say things like "Yo Yo Yo" and "I get all the chicks I want wearing my uniform." (Which from what I have read is probably true, as since 9/11 the most sought after bachelors in the city are cops and firemen). By not setting this up by showing Ken act similarly, Brian comes across as an insensitive ass up there with Clay. How did it happen that he felt the need to mock Ken and Ken's pride in his profession? Did someone say to Ken, "So, I hear NYC Cops are getting their choice of women these days? True Ken?" and Ken says something like, "Well yeah they have been attracted to the uniform lately"? Or did Ken sidle up to Brian next to the cave entrance while Brian was marking his territory and say, "Yo, Yo, Yo, Brian, you would not believe all the bitches that I can nail now"? We don't know where the exaggeration came from, so it's not very entertaining.
Burnett has done this all season long. Robb thinking Ken had his back, Jed acting lazy, Shii Ann being snubbed, Penny being manipulative, and now Brian mocking someone many people in New York City may consider to be a hero. All without a set-up. All without documented evidence. Burnett is not showing us Survivor this year, not showing any drama, not showing the set-up for the punch line, he is simply telling us. And it's coming across as doubtful and shallow.
When Ken was voted out last episode, it was a given. Last week I said I thought Jake would be the one with the money and therefore tossed. Who knew porn stars made so much cash! If Brian loses this game, it will be in part due to his wife. Showing off how wealthy they were was a goofy idea. When the time comes to vote for the final two, if Brian is one of them the jury may well remember that he doesn't really need the money and vote for the other guy.
Was voting out Ken the right way to go? It was if you were the CG men. If Clay and Ted both have an alliance with Brian, then they are set and don't need Ken. Not only he is threat to them physically, but he is 100% disposable. If you are the CG girls, Helen and Jan, you need to look at the future. They should be able to see the coconuts falling. Forming an alliance with three Sook Jai would not have worked, they would still be fourth and fifth. Getting rid of Ken leaves them in a position to form a final four alliance with Penny and Jake and get rid of Clay, then Ted. Then when Brian looks like he is on the verge of the boot, reform an alliance with him and vote off Jake and Penny. Voting off Ken was the smart move. Jake and Penny had no hope of winning with Ken, he was a threat and the number game was such that no one would ally with them if he was there. By losing Ken, they have a better chance at pulling the two women over to their side. They should have approached the girls before they approached Brian or Clay. The girls are more vulnerable. All in all, for everyone left, getting rid of Ken was the right move.
Did he deserve the boot? Yes. Ken went into Survivor, buff and built, and decided to play the game as an individual right from the start. He sat out challenges, or he gave lackluster performances when he was involved. He wanted so desperately to fly under the radar that he crashed. Ken should have played strong and insisted on going as far as they could with their strongest members, no matter how annoying they were. Had he done that, he could have merged with the likes of Jed, Robb, and Stephanie - all just as strong and all threats. But he got selfish too fast and so deserved his boot. If Jake and Penny are the next to go, the same could be said for them. Hopefully, any future Survivor contestants will see right away that you are only as strong as your team and play as a tribe first before they worry about playing as an individual.
Peggy Keller is Mother and Behavior Therapist to her two autistic sons and teenage daughter. Click here to e-mail her.
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