Friday, August 25, 2006

Edward R. Murrow Must Be Spinning In His Grave

CBS announced yesterday that the upcoming season of the show Survivor would feature teams divided by race. It came to my attention while watching Headline News and my mouth literally dropped open from shock. "Is this a sick joke?" I thought. Um, that would be a no on the "sick joke" thing, John.

CBS issued the following statement in defense of it's actions, "CBS fully recognizes the controversial nature of this format but has full confidence in the producers and their ability to produce the program in a responsible manner," the statement said. "'Survivor' is a program that is no stranger to controversy and has always answered its critics on the screen." CNN quoted host Jeff Probst as saying that the format would be a "social experiment."

To quote that great MASH (ironically a CBS program) character, Sherman Potter, "Horse Hockey!"

Experiments are conducted for a reason. They are based on a hypothesis and the ability to test that hypothesis under controlled and statistically valid criteria. I am hard pressed to see how Survivor meets this benchmark.
So what exactly is the hypothesis of this "social experiment?" What social value does it deliver? None that I can discover.

Human culture has an ugly history of dividing itself among arbitrary lines. In the United States, few lines have been uglier, more violent, hurtful or discriminatory than that of race. We are one hundred and forty one years past the end of the Civil War and still, the echoes and shame of slavery haunt our culture. We are a scant sixty two years from when the United States Supreme Court legally banished the disgrace of segregation. We are a mere forty two and forty one years, respectively, from the passing of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts and still the memories sting. The neglect of so many African-Americans in the aftermath of Katrina had many wondering if race played a part in the slow Federal response. America has so much healing yet to do.

So how could CBS, the network of Murrow and Cronkite, possibly believe that this is a good idea?

One word: RATINGS

Shame, shame, shame, CBS! I can't say it enough times. How dare you use race in such a crass and insensitive way?

So here's the deal. Until CBS abandons this premise, I will not watch any of their programs. I will delete them from my favourite channels list and un-TIVO all of their shows. All except for one. I will TIVO the first Survivor to see who has the audacity to be a sponsor. Then I will stop buying their products. All of them. And I'll write them to let them know it. I hope that you will do the same.

If you want to get started, please visit www.cbs.com and click on the feedback link that is located on the bottom of the page.

2 Comments:

Blogger Kerry said...

Outstanding post John!

The use of race as a means to increase ratings is evidence of a the death of creativity, ethics and civic responsibility at CBS. I too shall be boycotting this network and their sponsers.

Please spare the rest of us the pain of watching the first episode and post a roster of sponsers of this abomination.

Keep up the great work!

Kerry

2:07 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

I can't believe they are actually going to do this. I wasn't likely to watch anyhow, but I'm a lot less likely to watch now.

Hope all is well.

12:07 AM  

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