Survivor: A Game to Us, Life to Others

Like many Americans, I am a big fan of the CBS TV Show Survivor. The show’s 30 season premiered last Wednesday, and the general premise has remained virtually unchanged. I think everyone is pretty familiar with the concept of Survivor, where tribes of people from different walks of life join together to compete in challenges. The team that loses the challenge is sent to tribal council, where they vote one tribe member off. The last person left standing at the end of 39 days wins the title of Survivor, and the million dollar prize.

I think it says a lot about our culture that we take people and put them into challenging conditions with limited food, no shelter and only the clothes on their back. We watch it for entertainment value, while these people endure about a month of hardship. People watching don’t really consider a large portion of the world’s population actually lives like this. Not everyone has a nice home with electricity and running water, large closets with tons of clothes, fridges stocked with food and a comfortable bed to sleep in every night. People in third world countries live their whole lives like contestants in Survivor, yet they aren’t playing for a million dollar prize, they are actually trying to survive. It is somewhat sad Americans created a show where they take people from a cushy, safe lifestyle and “force” them to live and adapt to difficult circumstances. We should be more aware of how other people around the world are living, and do more to help them. CBS could make a statement and donate money for each season of Survivor that airs to a tribe of people living in poverty to improve their quality of life. Contestants on Survivor always talk about how brutal and difficult their experience was, but people live every day like that. What we view as a game and entertainment is actually reality for people, and we should do more to help them.

6 thoughts on “Survivor: A Game to Us, Life to Others”

  1. I agree. It is very sad that one of the top television shows features contestants in harsh conditions while third world countries live their whole lives like contestants in Survivor. Why do you think we enjoy watching this show? Do you think this show is ethical?


  2. If we turn on the TV while we are eating a meal, I wouldn’t mind watching Survivor in the background, and I wouldn’t think twice before putting my food into my mouth, because I know that the people participating in this show are participating in it voluntarily, and once the show is over they will be going back to their somewhat comfortable lifestyles.

    On the other hand, I don’t think I would be able to sit through dinner while watching a documentary about the daily lives of villagers in some part of the world who are either working in order to get the money to buy food or are trying to search for food on the streets.

    One scenario is like virtual reality, where whatever that is seen on TV is actually fake, but the other scenario is real and happening right now, so I agree that we should find a way to help improve their quality of life.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Do you think it is more unethical to have shows like survivor than “informative” survival shows like Man vs. Wild? Some may say that Bear Grylls is teaching people what to do if they are in his situation, but chances are that will never happen. It is just entertainment television and he gets paid very well to make each episode.


  4. I think it is hard to make this connection when I’m watching the show. It doesn’t really tug at any emotions, unlike when I’m watching a video about the true dilemmas taking place in these third world countries.


  5. You make an excellent observation about American’s blissful ignorance when watching Survivor. I think many Americans choose not to be aware because guilt can come from awareness when we are surrounded by wealth. Your suggestion that CBS improve their relationship with local, impoverished cultures through donations is a great start but I would argue further. What could CBS do that would make these impoverished communities benefit long-term and through their own terms? Helping to boost the economy through donations is noble but it follows the biblical philosophy of giving a man a fish versus teaching him how to fish. In humanitarian aid, the U.S. engages in development building through economic projects, education, job creation, and community-confidence building to help raise these communities out of poverty by their own means.


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