Not long ago, a trusted friend said “Remember when we used to watch TV to escape reality?” True dat. Now, it seems we watch TV to assume an alternate reality…if it is reality at all.
I need to make a confession. I became hooked on this season’s Survivor. Beyond the normal deluge of fake boobs and outrageous self-aggrandizing behavior emerged Russell, an oil company owner. Russell led his fellow contestants like lambs before a feral dog on the Navajo reservation. He managed to manipulate each and every one along the way, casting them aside when needed like old oyster shells. However, his ability to game plan back-fired when it was time to face the same people he earlier tossed off. In their desultory tone, the contestants one by one dismissed Russell for basically being an overbearing bully and snake. Russell countered that he played the game “strategically better than anybody, maybe in history.” And he was right.
But here is where things got interesting from a social angle. There were two other folks vying for the million bucks…a feckless doctor and a goofy blonde. They seized upon the fallout from the “jury” and continued the bandwagon jumping…pointing to Russell’s brand of manipulation as to why he was not deserving of a million bucks. Russell immediately pounced, stating emphatically that the two were more than happy to ride along on his coattails, all the way to the point of putting themselves at a one in three chance of winning the money, and never complained once while he was taking bullets.
So I ask…who is the opportunist here? The scenario reminds me of the line from A Few Good Men. “I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it.” Well said Colonel. Russell went on to lose to dippy blonde. Was it sour grapes that cost oil-man his money? Was it jealousy? Was it Russell’s heavy-handedness or Predator Drone-like stealthiness?
The lesson here is this. This was not about right or wrong. No laws were broken in Russell’s ascent…he was just better. This is about perception and envy. When people are outsmarted, even on a goofy reality TV show, they want revenge for being made the victim. Even if they became the victim not because of a wrong done to them but because they feel that they are deserving of their pound of flesh. Hunter Thompson said “He who is taught only by himself has a fool for a master.”