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Entertainment

'Survivor: Two Solitudes': Let's Do It!

Canada's copycats slow to jump on a hot concept.

By Charles Demers 18 Oct 2006 | TheTyee.ca

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Cook Island version was racially divided

Man is it ever great to be a part of this tech-savvy generation -- you dinosaurs born in the days before Canada went metric will never know what it's like to grow up with such a hyper-abundance of information at your fingertips. "Newspapers." Ha. I lost any need for newspapers when I started lining my bird's cage with blogs. When I want to know what's happening in my world, I needn't do anything more strenuous than check e-mail, and the good people at Yahoo! give me a list of hyperlinked headlines to keep me up to speed. Like the other day, when Ian Hanomanachronism and the rest of the non-web "journalists" were hung up on some nuclear family having lunch in Korea or something, I was fully aware that Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie had put their differences aside, and were seen hanging out again.

I'm so glad to hear that the girls have buried the hatchet; that is so hot. After Patty Hearst, Paris and Nicole are by far my favourite heiresses (people always ask how it is that Nicole's dad, run-of-the-mill pop singer Lionel Ritchie, became so enormously wealthy; they forget that he receives big-time royalties every time someone in Sri Lanka sings the country's former national anthem: Ceylon, honey/ Good times never felt so good). Their show, The Simple Life -- in which the two wealthy girls partake in the rough-and-tumble, work-a-day life of blue-collar heartlanders -- is one of the shining beacons of class-integration in beginning de siècle America. Now that the two pals are back arm-in-arm, this season promises to be their most realistic imitation of proletarian life yet: reportedly, they will be killed in Iraq. This is good news for us, since every successful American reality show yields a Canadian knock-off, and so it's only a matter of time before Ben Mulroney is downed for the cameras in Afghanistan.

But is it such a good idea for Canada to continue producing our own takes on America's reality TV? I'm not as sure as I once was, as recently as a paragraph ago. The fly in my ointment, as it were, is the new CBS venture, Survivor: Racism.

Survivor: Two Solitudes?

As you've no doubt read, or seen, or downloaded onto your iPod, this season CBS had made the controversial decision to divide the Survivor tribes by race. But by making a show about a single landmass upon which antagonistic clans divided by ethnicity engage in cutthroat competition and vote by skin colour, the show infringed upon a copyright held by the island of Manhattan. Most recently, the producers uneasily merged the tribes, without admitting their past mistake, or facing up to their racism; in other words, the show is a perfect microcosm for America.

And that's my point: how will we make a microcosmic Survivor: Racism for Canada? The white team will have to steal the island from the Native team by getting the Chinese team to build a railway across it. The French tribe will get off to a slow start because they get the instructions in English, but they'll make up for it halfway through by getting their team a sponsorship.

And what will that mean? You guessed it: subtitles. In other words, I won't be able to check my e-mail and text my friends while watching TV. And if I can't check my e-mail, then just how am I supposed to stay informed about the world around me? Merci beaucoup, globalization.

Charles Demers is a regular contributor to The Tyee.  [Tyee]

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