Sunday, April 17, 2011

Personality cult on Survivor

Countries have seen cults of personalities take over, where the leader sets the culture and prevents a change in leadership until it is often too late. Sometimes this just disrupts the country when the leader dies, like in the cases of Roosevelt and Trudeau.
Other times it causes the country to become subject to the leader, resulting in a repressive dictatorship. Kim Jong Il, and Qadaffi are just two of the latest in a long line of these.
On a much smaller scale, we are seeing a cult of personality developing on Survivor. When two teams of new players were forced to take two veterans on as leaders: Rob Mariano and Russell Hantz, the stage was set.
Russell immediately got into his comfort zone, allying himself with, in his words, his dumb girls. The rest of his team saw this happening and rebelled, conducting a coup by blowing a challenge and getting rid of him and his cronies.
There was no such luck on the other team. Rob was seen as a benefit to his team and they embraced his leadership. They used his skills to help with the building of the shelter and to succeed in challenges. His team still lost challenges until the Zapatera crew purposely blew a challenge to get rid of Russell. (In the history of Survivor, this strategy has never worked. It always seems to result in a string of lost challenges and a bad merge.)

Going into the merge, up 6 to 4, seemed like a strong situation until Matt rejoined the crew from Redemption Island. But Rob convinced his team to get rid of their old team-member, even though the man was willing to forgive the prior treachery.
After winning the next two immunity challenges, Rob called the shots and started eliminating the other team one at a time. Not a bad strategy, except that the members of his 6-person alliance haven't been looking far enough into the future to see that only one person wins this game. Which members of the alliance are numbers six, five and four and which two does Rob plan to take with him to the final tribal council? Most players figure that the time to make a move is early in the merge but no-one is doing that.

No-one on his alliance has been looking for clues to the hidden immunity idol, even though they have seen clues appear in every reward in the past and in previous shows. Worse than that is the iron grip Rob has on his alliance. He sleeps them in a separate shelter from the former Zapatera team. He instituted a 'buddy system' where no member of his alliance is allowed to go anywhere alone. And, in the most egregious example of tyranny I've ever seen on Survivor, he demanded that his alliance stay away from the fish the other tribe caught, regardless of how hungry they were. Only Grant seemed to object to this rule but he was quickly recalled by his leader.

So now we have a tribe blindly following their charismatic leader into a situation that only three will survive.


  1. now looking back on it I laughed that Russell's alliance with Krista and Stephanie failed he thought his old tricks would be three times a charm. but too bad Mr.Hantz

  2. Also Krista was his Natalie White and Stephanie was his Parvati