Amy Stern (bigbrotherreads) wrote,
Amy Stern
bigbrotherreads

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Our whole relationship had been tainted by the Games. Normal was never a part of it.

Listening to Rob Cesternino's podcast this week is freaking amazing. He had on Murtz from "Reality Obsessed" and Lex from Survivor Africa and All-Stars. It's almost two hours long- yes, I just spent two hours of my life listening to this podcast- and it talks a lot about what interests me most, which is the way that things that happened in previous seasons (both in the game and the show) influence later seasons, and who's playing for redemption and who's playing to further a brand and how people's edits do or don't accurately reflect what they did.

It's not so much that these conversations are giving behind the scenes gossip- they're not really supplying anything I don't know, because I am a crazy person who follows the lives of reality television personalities like it's my job- as they are discussing the aspects of it which, well, deal with media literacy: the way things change from when they happen to when they air, and playing the game versus playing the show. Although obviously no one is discussing it as media literacy, because they see it all as their own personal journeys and how they've been portrayed and also because they aren't nerds like I am, they're somehow managing to talk about it anyway.

The most interesting part for me is when Lex and Rob talk about how the game has changed because of a shift in the emotional level of play. It's something I've been noticing but haven't been able to articulate: the strategy's gotten better as more seasons have passed, but personal attachments have decreased because people know they're going to get played. It increases the strategy part of the game but decreases what Lex calls the "reality," noting how much we don't get time-at-camp stories anymore. I wouldn't call it the reality so much as the humanity. We still see that contestants are frequently brought down by a very human flaw- being too loud or too quiet, too tough or not tough enough, not good around camp or not good in challenges, not in the right alliance, whatever- but it's human flaws in a vacuum. People aren't struggling between their desire to win and their desire to maintain friendships.

Basically, within the first three or four years from the beginning of the current reaity rush (which I pinpoint at 2000 with Survivor), reality television went from a social experiment to a place where contestants aren't here to make friends. Friendships seem to sprout up much more post-show, based on the family created by the shared experience of the game and of reality television, rather than from the events of the time in the house or the island or whatever. It's not something quantifiable, where I can produce evidence; I keep trying and then realizing I'm contradicting myself. It may just be that audience perception of events has changed since these things started. But I think it's more than that. Survivor especially went from being a life-or-death situation, where you seriously depended on the people around you for survival and had to vote out people you really like just because it's the game, to a competition for who can orchestrate the most impressive blindside. I'd argue that the show of Survivor has become more important than the game of Survivor.

Big Brother doesn't seem to follow the same type of patterns, likely because (a) they're not directly responsible for each other's well-being and (b) three months is a lot longer than 39 days and (c) the emotional attachments were never as much a part of the game to begin with. And possibly also because (d) the average Big Brother contestant is much more likely a sociopath than the average Survivor one- which is possibly the only way in which Hunger Games is more like BB than Survivor.

Someday, I'm going to write up my big paper on how The Hunger Games is like Survivor seasons 1-7 and Catching Fire is like Survivor All-Stars. I'm rereading Catching Fire now, to see if I can spot any paralells to Guatemala, Fans v Favorites, or Heroes v Villains, but so far, I'm not really turning up much. Maybe five years from now, we'll start seeing books about the more calculated interpersonal aspects of reality television. I know I'd be interested.
Tags: podcasts, reality: post-show, reality: survivor: heroes vs villains
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