Thursday, March 14, 2013
Hantz Down, Best Survivor Ever
Even though I'm having the family over for a big dinner tonight and should be doing actual work, I have to weigh in about last night's ep of Survivor.
For those of you who don't watch the show and are still reading this, last night saw the long-expected emotional breakdown of Brandon Hantz. This was Brandon's second outing on Survivor and part of a family tradition started by one of the most polarizing players ever, the notorious Russel Hantz. Both men are famous for being big personalities with dubious ethical boundaries and a talent for creating drama.
Naturally, the producers of Survivor love the Hantz family, they are ratings gold. Survivor is a business, it exists to make money, which is why the show is always set in tropical locations. All that random skin being flashed during a typical episode is akin to a peep show and the producers love to freeze those action shots with generous cleavage on display.
This is a very old reality show, ancient by reality standards and desperate to stay relevant, so the stunt casting began a while ago. I'm not naive, I know how TV works, so while I loathe most of their 'colorful' characters, I do understand their value. Borderline personalities are unpredictable by nature and Survivor needs unpredictable, it's what makes the show. It's the reason I still watch, all the fights, the challenges, the meltdowns a-plenty and the surprises; that's the reality in the TV.
So the producers keep pushing the boundaries and last night one of them pushed back. Hard. Brandon snapped, but not all at once. No, he slowly collapsed from the inside over a period of days and everyone saw it. They saw his mood swing from aggressive anger to repentant melancholy and right back to anger over and over. Brandon should have been taken out of the game well before the situation came to a roiling boil at the immunity challenge, Brandon should not have been on that island in the first place.
We the viewers all knew that he was at the very least bi-polar during his first appearance on Survivor, we the viewers openly questioned the producers of Survivor when they brought him back. And now we the viewers are saying "We told you so!", because we were shouting it at them and like arrogant fools, they didn't listen to the bankroll.
When Brandon Hantz finally exploded at the immunity challenge, the potential for physical violence was well beyond tolerable limits for any responsible person. Jeff Probst handled the situation admirably, doing his level best to keep Brandon calm, to keep Brandon from putting his hands on Philip. Probst literally massaged Brandon in an effort to both calm and restrain him. So good on Probst for that, but...
Probst is a producer of the show, he helped to create the situation so it's only fair that he should be the one to defuse the time bomb. Putting a visibly emotionally unstable person in a high pressure situation with limited food was a violent situation waiting for an arena. Deliberately putting innocent people into the situation without their knowledge or consent has to be a crime of some kind, at the very least it's indecent.
The producers of Survivor are happy campers today, everyone is talking about them, everyone wants to know what REALLY happened. They are making money today, but are most likely not thinking about the long term repercussions of Brandon Hantz et al. Perhaps the producers are feeling encouraged to push that envelope a little bit further, just to see what happens.
Apparently, they can't see what we see.