So that happened last night. Last night’s show really struck a cord in me and my husband. It’s hard to know how to start this because normally a TV show, especially a reality show that’s a game, is entertainment. Sure it covers heavy topics but overall it’s acting and entertainment. But last night wasn’t acting or entertaining. However, it was compelling TV and my husband and I stopped whatever we were doing to watch and listen to what was going on. You had two very real men debating a very real issue that unfortunately is still prevalent in today’s society. The language used and the topic debated is very polarizing. I’m talking about race. It’s hard because as a blogger who writes about the escapism world that is TV, I don’t like to write about issues like politics and race. I don’t like to go quite that heavy. But in reality, these topics creep up from time to time on our TV landscape and they should be discussed. But never have I seen it happen in such a real forum like what happened last night. This is why I feel Survivor is the best REALITY TV show because it doesn’t get more real than it did last night…especially for Philip and Steve.
If you haven’t seen last night’s episode yet, here is a quick rundown on how this volatile topic arose. The Ometepe tribe (call them Murlonio all you want, they are still 2 different tribes living on one beach) noticed that their rice in their container was full of mold and maggots. Gross! So they decided to empty it out onto a blanket and pick out the good rice from the bad rice. Zapatera also has a container or rice (oh and by the way, the rice is not shared…it is still managed separately.) Their rice is fine. So Andrea goes over and asks if they can combine rices so the rest of their rice doesn’t spoil. Steve and Julie are sitting there and they say no they don’t think it’s a good idea.
I have a few comments about this. First, it’s clear these tribes don’t like one another. Ometepe won’t share a tarp with Zap because they feel like they won it so why should they share. Likewise, Zap has a lot more rice because of the dwindling members and don’t feel the need to share since it’s their rice. I think they’re all being a bunch of babies but it is what it is and it is the game of Survivor not make the competition more comfortable. Second, while it came across as awful and cold, I really don’t blame Zap for not wanting to combine good rice with rice that had mold and maggots in it. There is no guarantee that they are going to get real food again. So this rice may be the only thing they have to eat for the last couple of weeks. I don’t care how well you say you cleaned out that rice, and it looks like they did, I wouldn’t want to take that chance. I wouldn’t hold that against Zap because what they did makes logical sense. You can’t risk contaminating the only guaranteed food source they have. What I would have done was tell them that we didn’t think it was a good idea but eat what you can of your rice and if it spoils or you run out, then come talk to us and we can possibly share our rice with you at that time. But it happened the way that it did…so be it. Then Philip gets involved and this is when all hell starts to break loose.
Philip goes over incensed that Steve and Julie won’t help them out. To try to calm Philip down, they tell him that they want to talk to Ralph when he gets back. Next thing you know Philip loses it on them and starts threatening them that they better watch their backs and they better carry that rice container around with them because he is going to steal it. Steve and Julie don’t take too kindly to that and start calling him crazy. And this is where things REALLY start to get out of control. After Steve calls Philip crazy, Philip then comes over to talk about how making that comment is the type of thing a white person would say to knock down a black man and the whole race card is now played. Andrea is trying to get Philip not to go there. Grant is completely stunned and asked Rob if he just heard Philip correctly …”did he just play the race card” he asks him. Yes Grant he did. Meanwhile, Steve, who is still laying down like he is about to get a massage, is incredulous over the idea that Philip has made this a black and white issue. And just when you think it has died down, Philip starts breaking out the N word and giving Steve some very pointed gestures. It was horrible. It really boils over at TC but let’s get to the rest of episode before we get into that.
At RI, Matt, MIke, and David all have to build the infamous house of cards tower to 8 feet. The first TWO people to do it, stay alive and the person out is now the first member of the jury. David is the self-proclaimed puzzle expert so he’s going to win right? Right? Ah, no. Mike is the first one finished all though my husband and I gasped about 5 times each watching is tower sway back and forth for fear it was going to topple. It didn’t and Mike was safe. Then Matt was right behind him and he was also safe. Puzzle expert David, who has yet to win a puzzle challenge by the way, is now on the jury.
I get the feeling Matt is ready to go home and has had enough with Survivor. However, if it is God’s will, he will stay. Oh boy. I have to say, as much as I have lost respect for him as a Survivor competitor due to his ridiculously bonehead decisions, I feel really bad for the guy. I think they have been out there close to a month and I think Matt has spent about 95% of his time alone on RI. That has to suck. I’d probably hate that too. If I am able to last 25-28 days however long it has been, I would have wanted to be on the main island with everyone. I would feel like I have missed out on the entire Survivor experience in the traditional sense. No wonder Matt is starting to lose it. I’m glad to see Mike still around and I think he could be very dangerous if he is able to stay and re-enter the game. Because he is someone who could pull a Kelly Wigglesworth (like that shout out to Season 1) and win out on all the challenges.
At the immunity challenge, it’s puzzles, puzzles, and more puzzles. Guess who wins this one? That’s right….the true king of all puzzles….Boston Rob. So he is safe. And even with all the crazy stuff going on at camp, there is no way Philip is in danger. As long as Rob wants him in the final 2, and Rob is still in control, Philip will stay in the game. So it’s either Steve, Julie, or Ralph going home. No real shocker. Due to the rice wars and the fact that Philip has now called Steve a racist, Julie decides to get some revenge. She takes Philip’s bathing suit and buries it in the sand. What Julie doesn’t realize is that while it sucks for Philip, it sucks for the people who have to live with him, and his saggy pink briefs, even more. I have to say, I’m not a big fan of messing with someone’s stuff on Survivor. Things are hard enough that I don’t think you mess with someone’s personal items on the island. It crosses a line and cheapens your game play. But that’s just me. However, after the stunt Philip pulled last night, he deserved it.
Tribal Council is now upon us. As I mentioned, there was no shocker on who was going home. Philip was safe (even though everyone can’t stand him) and Julie was the one sent to RI. “Guess you’re never going to find your shorts” she tells Philip as she leaves. Ha! Usually the drama of TC is the vote but this week, the vote wasn’t even close. It was the race issue. I can’t say enough how well Jeff Probst handled that situation. He was the consummate professional and he handled that situation with class and respect. He could have really pushed some buttons (which he has been known to do) to incite better TV. But even Probst saw that when you have an issue like race out there, good TV is not the goal. Getting the two parties to communicate and hash it out, is the goal. Major kudos Probst!!!
Ok, here is my take on the whole thing. I am also making comments based on what the editors decided to show us. So if other stuff happened behind the scenes I wasn’t aware of, I can’t comment on that. I can only comment on what I’m seeing so take that for what it is worth. I’m going to start with Steve. I was bitterly disappointed how he handled the situation. It seemed to me that he wasn’t happy about what Philip was saying but he never really defended himself either. If I was sitting there and I called Philip crazy and the next thing you know he is calling me a racist as a result and throwing the N word around, I would go off. There is no way I would sit (or lay) there and take it from him. If you are going to call someone a racist, you better be damn sure they are. And if someone called me a racist and I knew without a doubt and with 100% certainty that I wasn’t a racist, I would be fighting them with everything I have to make sure it was known that I am not the hideous person they are claiming me to be. And Steve just seemed to walk around and take it!!!! I couldn’t believe it!!!! Calling someone a racist is not a term that should be thrown around lightly or cavalierly. And if it is (which in my opinion it was) you need to set the record straight. Now maybe Steve isn’t that type of person. I just don’t know how in that situation you don’t stand up for yourself more.
As for Philip. I really started to change my viewpoint of him due to last week’s episode. I went from thinking he is a few eggs short of a dozen (I must be a racist) to thinking he was much smarter possibly than I was giving him credit for. Then this week happened and I went from thinking he is a funny crazy man who is playing the game better than I thought, to being an asshole who is no longer an entertaining aspect of my Survivor viewing. As Jeff Probst said, I can’t even being to put myself in the shoes of an African-American man and understand how they think and feel because I am not an African-American man. So when it comes to truly understanding race and it’s impact, there is no way I could ever really understand. However, being a woman, there are aspects of being a minority that I can relate to. There was a time in this county where women were treated almost as horribly as African-Americas were. But when someone disagrees with me or says something derogatory towards me, I don’t jump to the conclusion that they are saying it because I’m a woman. They are possibly reacting to something I said or did as a PERSON not as a woman. This is the difference here. Steve is not the first person to call Philip crazy. And Philip himself, knows this is the perception of him and he plays it up to try to get to the finals. Now when someone calls him on it, it’s now all of a sudden a race issue? I don’t get it. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t play up the crazy and then call someone a racist when they call you out on it. Not to mention, this all started because Ometepe wanted to put their rice in Zapatera’s container and Zap wouldn’t let them. If you re-watch the clip, it was Rob’s idea to do that. But it was PHILIP who said they aren’t going to go for that and said “I wouldn’t want to do that if I was them!!!!!” So if you can understand their point, why did you flip out the way that you did?????
At TC, Philip used an example of the way his father was treated in a store. The clerk called his father “boy.” And it has a racial tone to it. Now, I wasn’t in that store but listing to his story, I can completely understand where he and his father would take that expression and think there was something more sinister behind it. Because the term “boy” can be racial charged when used in a certain way. That makes perfect sense to me. But I’ve never heard someone call a black man crazy and it have a racial undertone. Crazy doesn’t equate to racial for me. “Boy” on the other hand, I can totally see how that can be misunderstood or used in a racial context. But “crazy”, not so much. In fairness, it has been mentioned time and time again by Probst that these people are dehydrated, malnourished, and sleep deprived. So I can understand how tempers and lack rational thought can erupt when in this situation. But I still think it was out of line and unacceptable. I would have a hard time living with Philip after something like this. But you know what I would also do if I were Steve? I would try to have a sit down with Philip. After I would have unloaded on him, I would try to have a real heart to heart and see if I could work this out with him. Maybe both men could come to an understand and middle ground and possible apologize. Maybe something like that would even have to happen off the island, after the game, after getting some sleep and food in their systems where rational discussions can be had. I hope so.
So after all that, Julie was voted to RI, David headed to Ponderosa, and it looks like Matt has a severe breakdown next week. I am still dying to know when and how many RI people are going back into the game. Also there are still ELEVEN people left in this game….8 on Survivor Island and 3 on Redemption Island. There are only 3 more Wed episodes left and the 2 hour May 15th finale. How are they going to get rid of all these people? They are going to have to have some double eliminations I would think. Because if only one person leaves each of the next 3 weeks, you will have EIGHT people left for the finale. So some mass house cleaning of Survivors is going to have to take place.