I better get Employee of the Month for this.
My co-workers, who conducted a secret vote under citronella tiki torches by my editor’s pool, have decreed that I am the employee most likely to make it in “Survivor.”
“You’d be perfect for this,” cooed one. “You better sign up, girl,” cooed the other. Well, she didn’t exactly coo, and it was my assigning editor, so that meant I had better set my gluteus maximus in front of the computer, log on to www.CBS.com and get in the running for the next season, to be set in the Australian Outback.
I’m not quite sure what sterling qualifications I have exuded to deserve this dictate, although I think I heard someone mumble something about my having been known to take public transportation in this area, which requires street smarts and gritty, hopeless optimism.
It might have been my brief foray into martial arts, although I don’t recall learning crocodile choke holds. Besides, a black belt in karate didn’t help Ramona, who was kicked off by week three.
A bit ironic
I suspect it’s the cruel irony of the situation that appeals to them. You see, I wouldn’t watch “Survivor” if it were the last show on Earth. You’ve already heard all the metaphors for the show, so you don’t need hear any more “Ten Little Indians” meets Franklin Covey, or “Heart of Darkness,” except without the heart or the darkness.
Also, no one except the most feeble-minded pasty-skinned couch potato could possibly believe that these fine folks were ever threatened by danger or spontaneity from the moment they signed their contract. I don’t need to go into a tirade on media orchestration. Suffice it to say, the show has the mercury of my keenly sensitive hype-o-meter on a boil.
This makes me an outcast among “Survivor” watchers, which include the voting contingent of my co-workers. You should have seen the day I found a seemingly reliable Web site that leaked who the last survivor was. Knowing enough not to announce the name, I sang out, “Does anyone want the site address?” What I should have said was, “I found the Holy Grail. Anyone want to use it as a chamber pot?”
However, just to show I am the inveterate team player, I tagged along to our staff’s first “Survivor” party in a sarong. (That I had already been exiled, er, appointed, to try for the Australian Outback had no bearing whatsoever.)
I admit, “Survivor” does have its planted elements of Greek drama, complete with hubris, hamartia and deus ex machina in this case, the gods being a CBS plane tossing down hammocks and spice racks from Target. The problem is, with all that choreographed drama, the show is oddly tedious. The eulogy approach kills any suspense on who will be the next little Indian to go (which should be host Jeff Probst, smeared with honey and chased by ants).
It’s a game show, but certainly not the most dangerous game a la Richard Connell’s classic short story. It reminds me of that awful year John Tesh was a commentator at the Olympics, when NBC aired those Vaseline-smeared gauzy bios of the athletes. Anyone it ever profiled would promptly flame out after the next commercial break. At least there, the competition was live. This one is a done deal, with rejected “Survivors” popping up all over TV the next morning and revealing all about underwear rash and cameramen tossing in extra snakes to keep the spirits lively.
Lest you think I’m a corporate toady, don’t think I didn’t try to wriggle out of this. I thought the argument about no Asians being on the show aside from the Indonesian critters skittering around in the jungle was a good one. “That just means you’re due,” they argued. Score one for the intersection of network political correctness and my ethnic pride this is the fallout from CBS canceling “Martial Law.”
Technology might save me yet. The CBS Web site has crashed my computer about a half-dozen times. Apparently I’m not the only fool being egged on to try to get an expense-paid trip to Australia during an Olympic year. Meanwhile, just in case, I’ll take a few more cardio kickboxing classes and watch “Crocodile Hunter.” At least I can try to pick up an Aussie accent.
Vera H-C Chan is a Times staff writer who would eat wriggling larvae, but only with hot sauce and a pinch of lime. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org.