Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Appeal of Survivor Reality Show and How to Win the 1 Million Dollars

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Way, way before The Hunger Games movie franchise, many people forgot that the Survivor show was one of the earliest reality TV show that captures the imagination of audiences around the world. The appeal of Survivor is it's all real people fighting for the million dollar prize in exotic locations. I simply love, love, love the locations. Beautiful beaches. Cloudy highlands. Thundering waterfalls. Deep blue sea. In the backdrop of these amazing locations, you have 18 contestants from all walks of life. Some are tall, muscular and handsome young men and women. Some are middle-aged but with diverse backgrounds. When the show first premiered, I was still in my early 20s, and often dream to participate in this show. Come on, it's just like camping in the outback with your friends right and have fun playing the challenges right?

Unfortunately, I don't think it is that simple. Behind the facade, this show successfully shows the ugly side of humanity. Normal folks, that looks just like your father, mother, sister, brother or girlfriend could suddenly turn their backs and become the most evil, bitchy, emotional, angry primal human being, if that term even qualifies in Survivor. They're all a bunch of animals finding ways to outwit, outplay, outlast each other to the end. This show, in my opinion, is so much better than the movie Hunger Games because it is real. It showcases human nature, some at its best, and some at its worst. Unfortunately, good doesn't always triumphs over evil.

Watching this shows enable many audiences to draw life lessons that all of us can apply in our daily lives. For one, I am totally against the survivor mentality. I believe in the real world, the survivor mentality produces no winners. I am a strong advocate instead, for the thriving mentality. But before we can thrive, we should all learn how the other side of the spectrum works. And this is what this entry is about. The appeal of Survivor is it means different things to different people - but the lessons are quite universal. Lessons can be learned in these 3 broad categories: 1) Tackling challenges 2) Social Game 3) Mental Game

This is after all Survivor. If you wish to audition for this show with the dream of winning the one million dollars, be sure you are a suitable fit. First and foremost, you must be physically capable. Good at mental and puzzle games. Able to start a fire. Fish and hunt for food. Eat all kinds of yucky stuff. Able to stay hungry for long periods of time (in Survivor's case, at least for 39 days) And one most surpising of all - speak well. Yes, you're going to be on television! You need to say something to the camera so the audience would understand you. We would come back soon to this important point.

Now, I am watching the Survivor set in Gabon, Africa. I love the tagline for Gabon: Earth's Last Eden. The location is truly breathtaking, with the patterned geographical landscape and the animal kingdom residing in this paradise. How I wish I was there in real life. This is the appeal of Survivor, it transports its viewers to these beautiful locations, almost similar in theme with a James Bond movie, one particularly like Gabon. I love Gabon, because in the past seasons, Survivor was mostly set at sandy beaches or some exotic islands, which to me gets a bit boring. Come on, I'm from Southeast Asia, and an island boy myself. I get islands and beaches. Somewhere like Gabon was an extremely pleasant change.

Tackling challenges is one of the show's creative aspects. Each episode has 2 main challenges, one for Reward and the other for Immunity. Early on in the game, it's extremely important to win these challenges for the sake of boosting your team's morale and spirit. Depending on how the contestants are divided into the 2 groups, it's always good to be in a team of tall, strong, athletic young-ish people (say in their late 20s, early 30s or 40s). Always keep an eye on which team appears to be stronger, and gravitate towards that group. But if you are strong, strappy and tall yourself, you might want to be in a group on the weaker side, so as to make yourself indispensable for tackling challenges. It's all very clear cut how to win challenges early on in the game, that is to be with a stronger team of players.

But in the social game, things are more fluid. If you're in a group of team that constantly loses the challenges, the social game often heats up.  That's because you will go to Tribal Council to meet Jeff Probst, and vote someone one. Below are some anecdotes to apply:
1) Don't allow physical impressions to affect your motivation
It is easier said than done. When you are losing, your group motivation is down. You don't want to be the only cheerleader of the group, like in Gabon, the oldest member of the red team were voted off for being too positive.
2) Don't stay in your own world
Depending on your personality, it is much safer to remain open to other team members. Try to understand other people's state of mind, instead of being too full of yourself.
3) Create alliances
It's a numbers game during the elimination at Tribal Council. You need trustworthy players to be with you to the final three. But in a show like Survivor, alliances do break. A semblance of an alliance is critical, in making you look more powerful than you actually are. Be the silent leader of the alliance if you can. A follower has its advantages too, but most often they don't win the million dollars.
4) Run your emotions, don't let it run you
Emotions an get high and ugly in Survivor. If you are unable to control your emotions, you would become a bully or a strong personality that people finds threatening. A fine example was in another past season, when Colton openly downgrades Christina because she is Asian and weak. But Colton's high emotional state makes him come down with appendititis that pulls him off from the game. Good riddance.
5) Don't look like you're giving up
In Gabon, GC could not take the hunger and his team mates voted him out. Being too quiet or too loud can make you a potential candidate to be voted off.
6) Read between the lines
People often say one thing but means the other in Survivor. You need to be able to decipher what the other person is saying and compares it with his/her actions and facial expression.
7) Make yourself useful
In the camp, you don't want to appear to be lazing around while your other team mates are gathering wood or starting fire. Help as much as you could without seeming overly dominant.
8) Keep your Immunity Idol to youself
The Idol would keep you safe from being voted off. So don't give it away to anyone else. You are playing this game for yourself.
9) Don't think too far ahead
You may have formed your alliances early in the game. But things changed. Merge always happen, or some unexpected twists in the game might turned your alliance against you.
10) Never underestimate anyone
I personally know how that feels like being underestimated. The greatest weakness usually reveals itself on the person doing the underestimating. Like the Gabon season, Suzie was never known to be a strong player, but ended up at the top 3.
For the Survivor: Gabon season, I feel it has the most diverse background group of players. I feel a connection especially to the underdogs, in the Fang group which consisted mostly non-Caucasians. They lost challenge after challenges, giving the other group Kota so many rewards, which serves them at great advantage for replenishing their energy for their next challenge.  The Kota group has the most abled-bodied men and women, but I found 2 that stands out the most - Corrine and Randy. Corrine gives the image as this bitchy fighter and Randy thinks he knows all about strategy. Truly dislikable, like Colton. I feel if they are on television, they should know how to present themselves to the audience, but they choose to follow their emotions (some with racist sentiments and bigotry), which in the end cause their own detriment.

I truly feel for Bob, the second oldest Survivor player, when he read his letters from home. He reminds me so much like a little boy, in an older man's body. I feel he is a very kind person, and the other likeable player is Sugar. She's a pin-up model everybody perceived as this ditzy girl, but she turns out to be quite smart when she found the Immunity Idol. She''s good at following and reading clues, compared to Bob, the macho attorney. Everybody thinks guy in suits would be better at solving puzzles than a pin-up model right? Wrong! Then you have Ken, this skinny guy that looks a lot like a friend of mine, who at first look would be undermined by anyone stronger. But he is extremely brainy and observant, having found clue for the idol, but was snatched by Charlie, another skinny brainy, who has a crush for Marcus - one of those tall, muscular hunks that everybody looked up to as leader, but was voted out - thanks to Ken's mastermind. In the end, Bob won the million dollars!

I have the most imaginative idea. What if the context of Survivor reality show is used to elect our next Prime Minister? Instead of the common folks like us having to suffer this survival mentality life, let our future elected leaders be put to the test of fire, like in a Survivor show. We can send all 12 candidates that was elected in our last general election, then put them through challenges. The main prize being crowned the top position of our country, that is the position of Prime Minister. We make them starve, lose precious sleep , hunt for food, bitch against each other, then finally vote each other out until they vote for the next Prime Minister. I trust the sole Survivor of our own Malaysian version would truly make a great Prime Minister that would govern our country with tested courage, fairness to people lower than them and a deep understanding of true democracy.

For GAME apps and FILM review:
* Tank Hero
Temple Run vs Subway Surfers vs Minion Rush
Angry Birds Space (close to 10,000 hits)
Angry Birds: Red's Mighty Feathers
Skyfall movie review
Pacific Rim and Lone Ranger
In the Mood for Love vs Belle Du Jour