Thursday, November 24, 2011

Debunking Survivor South Pacific

In a recent package from home, I got a DVD with the first five episodes of the latest Survivor – Survivor South Pacific. I have just a few things I want to get out there so people don’t have any false impressions about it.

·         First, it’s set in Samoa. Yes, Samoa is in the South Pacific, but can’t you at least give us a little credit for all the great scenery?

·         All the shots of huge waves breaking? Those are zoomed way in – no waves that big break anywhere near the shore in Samoa. Most of the islands are surrounded by reefs, so all the big waves break much farther out.

·         Also, that scene they cut to sometimes as they’re coming back from a commercial break of a huge wave breaking against a cliff and sending up all the spray? That’s been enhanced. There are plenty of places in Samoa where the water meets a cliff like that, but due to the reefs, there are no places where a wave that big will hit a cliff that size and produce that much spray.

·         The people playing survivor have obviously had some basic introduction to Samoan culture or general South Pacific island life. I say this for two reasons. First, very briefly, in one shot in the first episode, you can see one of the girls weaving a palm frond. I would not have known to weave a palm frond at an angle unless somebody had told me, so I’m assuming somebody told them too. Second, also in the first episode, one of the rewards is a basket full of taro. The basket full of taro that they show the host revealing on camera is taro still in its most raw form, covered in dirt. How would they know that they have to peel it and cook it if it were the first time they had seen taro? OK, you can probably tell from looking at it that you need to peel taro, and I’m pretty sure you can eat it raw, but still. There is some preparation involved.

·         They have an awful lot of supplies given to them. Scuba gear, a canoe (canoes in Samoa really do look like that – a hollowed out log and a beam to balance it out), water bottles, machetes, fishing gear. The reef fishing is pretty legitimate. From what I’ve seen, that’s the way to do it. Although when I saw people fishing in my village, it was a group of probably a dozen men, they weren’t quite so far away from shore, and they didn’t have a boat.

·         However, they do not know how to handle coconuts. The way I see them doing it on the show works, but that’s not the best way to get at a coconut. On the show, they just hack through the husk until chop off the top of the coconut, then drink from it husk and all. If you really want to be an islander drinking from a coconut, you need to husk the coconut first, and then open one of the holes on top of the coconut and drink from there. However, I think it requires significantly more effort to husk a coconut than to hack away at it with a machete, so they’re probably OK for a TV show.

That’s all I really have to say about Survivor South Pacific. Maybe there will be more nuances that come up when I get later episodes, but don’t be fooled – they’re not completely unprepared. They’ve been stranded with a little introduction, a few tools, and some help.

1 comment:

  1. sorry but I'm going to have to differ on your account of Samoa not having any beautiful beaches/waves/caves/waterfalls, etc. ...since you're just a peace corps volunteer you obviously don't get to check out the whole country ...i've been taking surfing trips the south pacific for years and samoa is one of those gems that people don't know about .... on the island of savai'i they have some of the best surf spots in the world which are unspoiled and still undiscovered by most of the world ...i've seen those places in samoa and know that they are there just have to keep an open mind to the beauty that really is there ...once you've released the negativity, you too will the beauty right there in front of you ....yes, upolu island has lots of reefs but upolu island isn't the only samoa there is to film ....happy thanksgiving by the way