A lot of things occurred to us watching the successful premiere of Survivor on CBS. Among them: Unless things have changed radically, most of the people who own VCRs were not able to tape the first episode. They can't work the machine. So, we think it pretty difficult to criticize the group of volunteer mercenary survivalists, including a former Navy Seal, who couldn't start a fire without matches.
Go ahead; be smug. But most of us can't even live in the world we live in, let alone on some island god-knows-where. The skills you need to deal with the average HMO won't help you on Pulau Tiga.
It makes us think this, too. Maybe Survivor isn't just about living in the wild. Maybe it's about television itself. Survivor will ultimately choose a winner by voting out the weakest, every week. In that way, it's a veritable microcosm of the video vox populi. Nielsen drums out the weakest, lamest, most annoying, least necessary without as much as a hearty handshake. From Hello, Larry long ago to every CBS local newscast in America today, audiences make the same cold determinations.
That overnight ratings report is the tribal drumbeat to which every network executive and general manager dances every day. They see those numbers and then, often, make that long walk alone, among the poisonous snakes and the hungry rats. Over in corporate.