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Racism claims build over Survivor August 24, 2006

Posted by C.A.R.D in African-American, Card, Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination, Ethnic, Hispanic, minority, offensive, Race, Racism, Racist, White.

The Survivor television show’s latest ploy – dividing US contestants along ethnic lines – drew charges of racism, but scored a major publicity success weeks before the season’s first episode was to air.

Now in its 13th season on CBS, the programme featuring contestants stranded in obscure parts of the world chose to tackle the race issue, producers said, after it had been criticised for having too many white contestants.

The US network said on Wednesday contestants “will initially be organized into four tribes divided along ethnic lines – African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic and White – before merging in a later episode.”

This year’s CBS series premieres on September 14 and was shot on the Cook Islands in the South Pacific.

“I think at first glance when you just hear the idea, it could sound like a stunt,” Survivor host Jeff Probst said on a CBS morning news show. “But that’s not what we’re doing here.”

“We’ve always had a low number of minority applicants … apply to the show. So we set out and said, ‘Let’s turn this criticism into creative for the show,”‘ he said, adding that it fit Survivor’s mission of being a “social experiment”.

Executive producer Mark Burnett told entertainment newspaper Variety the aim was to show that race does not have to be an issue in daily life. “Maybe that taboo could disappear through this,” he was quoted as saying.

Advocacy group Hispanics Across America said the new season of “Survivor” was “not reality TV – it’s racist TV.”

The group’s founder, Fernando Mateo, called the new scheme an “offensive and cheap trick” to boost ratings.

“Moreover, the participants will be held to the daunting and unfair challenge of representing an entire race of people,” he said. “What will it mean for a team – a race – to fail in a battle of wits and strength against another race?”

Last season the show drew an average of around 17 million viewers a week, down from a peak of some 20 million in earlier seasons, a CBS spokeswoman said.

Washington Post columnist Lisa de Moraes published a piece on Thursday calling the move only the most extreme in a series of ratings stunts over the years.

“But a ratings plunge like the one the show suffered this past spring in its 12th edition – fumbling nearly one-quarter of its audience compared with just two springs back – called for something far more incendiary,” she wrote.

The show was big news on entertainment blogs and websites. One Survivor fan site reported betting was already underway with the “White Tribe” favourite to win at odds of 7-3.

Source: stuff.co.nz

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