Brain Dump: Survivor

I am having a hard time getting last week's double episode of Survivor out of my head. It upset me a lot, and has me considering not watching the series anymore. I am disappointed in several of the players, the producers, and Jeff Probst. I have a million thoughts in my head and need a place to get them out. Warning: there will be spoilers for the episodes.

In episodes 8 and 9 of Survivor: Island of the Idols, one of the cast members (Kellee) breaks down crying about her experiences with one of the male contestants (Dan). She details his unwanted touching of her, and how it continues even after she has tried to stop him. This is something that has been highlighted in previous episodes also. During the double episode, we see her talking with another contestant (Missy). Both of them share a similar experience with the unwanted touching and uncomfortable experience. They discuss talking with the other women to vote off the offender. Several other women agree that they feel the same way and that he should be voted off. One of the older female contestants (Janet) takes it upon herself to completely drop her strategy for the game so that she can help protect her fellow women in the game. Strategy talks go on throughout the day, including Kellee looking to vote someone other than Dan off. Apparently, strategy is more important than feeling safe in the game. By the end of tribal council, Kellee is voted off instead of Dan. Janet is shocked. The next episode sees the contestants dealing with the fallout of what happened, including several of the women lying to Dan about what they said and reversing their stories about his behavior. There is a discussion that happens in the next tribal council around the issue, and the most intelligent, socially woke members of the game (Jamal) gets voted off after being the only one to seem to have any true grasp of the seriousness of what happened.

There are a number of reasons why I am upset by these episodes:

First, Dan should not have been allowed to continue in the game, and should not be there now. When Kellee is breaking down talking about the experience, the producer says if there are issues that need to be addressed, she should come to him so they can stop it. It is exactly what she is doing by talking about it to the producers, and the show should have addressed the issue right then. Instead, they allow things to continue, and simply give the equivalent of an HR harassment training off camera. In an interview after the episodes aired, Jeff Probst talked about how Survivor reflects reality, but that the difference is that the game allows people to be voted off. Somehow that takes the responsibility off the shoulders of the show itself? How far do they let things go before taking steps outside of a vote? What happens if someone is having an issue, but no one is willing to believe them? It is fucked up. It is not how anything like this should be handled. It was a disaster on the part of the producers and Jeff.

Second, the women who exaggerated what happened to them as a part of game play crossed a line. Sexual harassment / assault is not a game. It is serious. People deal with it constantly, and it is still hard to be heard in this day and age. Even when heard, there is little consequence for those who did the harassment / assault. It is disgusting that anyone would make that part of their game play. That is no way to advance such an important cause in front of millions of viewers.

Third, the tribal council that addressed the issue was a joke. Jeff talked about putting everything out there, but does a piss poor job of actually stating what happened. No one has the guts to come out and use concrete terms for the harassment  / assault. They skirt around the issue. Several of the contestants are clearly the kind of people that do not understand the complexities of an issue like this and try to brush it off. Jamal is the only one to speak up in an intelligent way. He has done the same for other issues around race this season. It is awesome to hear him talk about social justice issues. Too bad he gets voted out, so we will not have a voice of reason left. During the whole discussion, Dan is asked questions several times and simply wants to let it drop. He gives an apology that is not an apology, and like most men, is oblivious to his own behaviors. It is sad, but especially because it is framed as if it is going to be a deep, no bull type of discourse.

The whole turn of events was bullshit. It was handled in the worst way possible. I think CBS and the Survivor execs believe they deserve some kind of accolade for handling the situation the way they did and giving airtime to it all. Why else make it a double episode with a viewer warning at the beginning? They are as oblivious as everyone else who lets people like Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, and Louis C.K. get away with their heinous actions for so long. In the last few years, we have made progress. We still need to make so much more.

The Japanese Dilemma

Amazon is currently running several sales throughout its digital comics storefront based on the Halloween season. One of the sales is a bunch of spooky manga. I ended up buying the first several volumes of many of the series. Gleipnir was one of the selections on sale. With four volumes available, I bought and read them all in the last couple days. It has brought up a dilemma I face periodically. When it comes to manga and anime, I love the massively diverse offering of content coming out of Japan. You would be hard pressed to find anywhere else with a range of material that can go from a series about tennis to a series about monster collecting to a series about cooking. But then, I start running into the common elements that turn me off from the material.

Gleipnir is a prime example. The concept revolves around a kid who can transform into a bear mascot. One day it just happens, and he is unaware of how or why. Soon he teams up with a girl who is looking for her sister, who can also transform into a monster. They learn that the mascot can be unzipped and worn, allowing her to control him from the inside. The team quickly learn that the transformations are coming from an alien who crash landed on Earth and is looking for his companions who are all imprinted on coins. It is a bizarre concept with lots of potential. But the potential is ruined by the creepy amount of fan service and the abrupt pacing. I run into the same thing when trying to watch anime. Many times I have to walk away from a show without finishing.

It is not all like that. I have read plenty of Hunter x Hunter and enjoyed it. Anime series like Your Lie in April, Kids on the Slope, Parasyte -Maxim-, and Baccano! were all excellent. It is just hard for me to find the series that I will enjoy. I cannot trust popular opinion. I recently tried watching Cowboy Bebop, and could not finish. The music was awesome, but the pacing and depiction of women in the series were too much to get past. I have had the same reaction to other popular series. I am stuck wanting to immerse myself in more anime and manga to find the true gems, but I also have to deal with all the disappointments. It is a dilemma that I will probably be dealing with for years to come.

Social Anxiety

A couple of months ago, I decided to create an Instagram account again. I noticed that I had stopped using my camera as much after I deleted my original account. Without anywhere to share my photos, it made it hard to want to take them in the first place. I missed getting out and taking pictures.

I created a new account, and started to post photos. I began to create some small reviews to stick in my Instagram stories (like the ones in the bottom of this post). Heather and I began to go out on photo shoots again. I followed photographers, models, and artists. It was a lot of fun at first. Then it stopped being fun.

I started to get anxiety about the whole experience. I had connected with cool people, but those connections lacked depth. It ended up making me feel lonelier than before. When I got sick or felt depressed, it would get me down even more when I missed posting or got behind on my feed. I could see all the negatives of social media creeping back in full force. Many of the reasons why I had originally left.

I deleted my account again. I know it is the best thing for me and my mental health. However, I am back to having nowhere to post my photography. I have not used this site for much. I set it up and let it sit for a couple years. I am thinking about using it more; to post photos, to give me an excuse to mess around making more mini-reviews, to share things I think are shareable.

Without any mechanisms for interaction, this site is purely for me. It is an outlet. It is a form of expression that does not mess with my brain chemistry the way that social media has. At least, I think it is different. I could be wrong. I might try it and feel the same way. All that to say, I might be posting more around here. I have been tweaking things a bit in the past week. It has been fun. If it stays that way, this site may no longer be a graveyard. I am not guaranteeing anything.