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Archive for Wednesday, August 30, 2000

Survivor’ a showcase for greed, malice

August 30, 2000

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Ten lessons culled from "Survivor":

10. If you're a rat, beware of snakes.

"Even humiliation had its benefits on this show, earning Kelly $100,000 as runnerup."

9. Expect the best trainers in corporate team-building to be cold, calculating people who aren't ashamed to tell you that they're out to get you.

8. Don't trust female truck drivers with a sour disposition.

7. Expect to die if your name is Kelly, you get lost in the desert, run out of water and come across Susan the truck driver.

6. Those who take losing so personally are not happy campers.

5. In the game of life, the meek don't survive.

4. In the game of "Survivor," manipulators thrive.

3. Learn to spear fish and hang out naked.

2. Alliance can be a dirty word.

And the No. 1 lesson: Don't ask, don't tell. Just pay Rich.

After 13 weeks of "Survivor," Richard Hatch is a millionaire, and the nation appears none the wiser.

This was not an uplifting show.

It showcased greed, malice and spite.

It turned out that CBS's summer gamble on a little spit of sand off the island of Borneo paid off, though. The show enjoyed spectacular ratings throughout the summer season, and casting for a new location in Australia is in the works.

But what did we learn from all the angst among the players who marooned themselves for a quick million?

What did we learn from their mind games, the cut-throat plans and fake naivete?

Did we see ourselves on that island of contrived woe?

Who were our heroes, our villains?

By the end of the show, even Rudy, the old, macho Navy SEAL who never met a woman he didn't see as a burden, began to seem like a nice enough fellow. In Las Vegas, in fact, he was the odds-on favorite to win.

Rudy, the curmudgeon, was sweet as honey, especially compared with Susan, the bitter truck driver.

Susan directed her vitriol at runner-up Kelly, a whitewater river guide who kept a low profile and tried to be nice without being fake.

Apparently Kelly and Susan blamed one another for severing an alliance that was supposed to let the better woman win. It wasn't clear to me who was at fault, but Susan sure had sore loser written all over her the final night.

It was better than anything Hollywood script writers could have cooked up.

And who would have cast the self-identified "gay guy" with no sense of modesty as the winner of the cool million?

Even humiliation had its benefits on this show, earning Kelly $100,000 as runner-up.

And millions of Americans couldn't get enough. We were awed as if this 13-week quirky, adventure game show on a rat- and snake-infested Pacific island were as big as man's first moon landing.

Like it or not, Rich has become a hero for the postmodern corporate age. He's a trainer's trainer, a white-collar man's man.

This "hero," like so many today, has gotten into a skirmish with the law.

Police charged Hatch with second-degree child abuse in April, shortly after he returned from taping "Survivor" for 39 days. Hatch's son, then 9, told police his father pulled him by the ear and wrapped his hands around the boy's neck when the two were out on a jog.

Hatch says it's all an "absurd" misunderstanding. He is suing police and child-welfare officials for false imprisonment and defamation. He's seeking $1 million in damages.

Care to wager against him?

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