I’ve been pretty hard on a couple castaways this season. I’ve probably been both fair and a little unfair.
You see, it’s easy to be hard on both Kyle/Jason and Scot. They’ve acted like bullies pretty much the entire game and, you know, people should be hard on bullies. Last week, I was hard on Joe, who’s really done nothing particularly bad in this game; he’s just not playing the game. So maybe that was a little unfair?
But Michele? Well, Michele’s been basically invisible except that one episode where she messed up a challenge right after the tribal shakeup. In that episode, Michele talked a big game, but never quite did anything.
I have to say, though, Michele kind of morphed into my least favorite type of player this week. Now, clearly producers assisted in this, but Michele now follows a horribly illustrious line of Survivor contestants who constantly talk about Big Moves™, but, of course, never actually do anything.
Please prove me wrong, Michele. Please.
But we’re getting way ahead of ourselves here. We need to talk some theory. I’m going to return to one that we discussed really early on last season, one of, if not the, most classic theories of mass communication: agenda-setting theory.
With agenda setting, we’re talking about one of the first accepted theories concerning journalism, a field many thought unfit to actually study for a while there. Agenda-setting theory really took off in the 1970s because of some seminal work by two University of North Carolina researchers; however, some folks link the theory all the way back to Walter Lippmann.
The basic, most underlying foundation of agenda-setting theory is that the media doesn’t tell us how to think, but what to think about. To put it another way, we researchers of media know that people are smart enough to make their own decisions. No matter what messages the media prints, more than likely people won’t just believe them. But, if the media continually mention a topic, it keeps that topic discussed. So, therefore, the media sets the agenda for what people talk about.
And with Survivor, what people talk about is the Big Move™. Whether it’s people like me writing about the show, whether it’s Jeff Probst or whether it’s fans on the web, we all love Big Moves™ and we celebrate castaways when they make those moves.
We’ve seen Michele talk a whole lot about such a move, especially this week. But Michele, as I mentioned earlier, is becoming my least favorite type of Survivor archetype: the player who understands the game and knows what she needs to do, but just won’t do it.
I’m not saying Michele’s played a bad game so far. Heck, she’s in the top six. But does anyone think she has a chance to win at this point?
Us bloggers, columnists and fans, along with Probst, we’ve all set the agenda for final Tribal. We haven’t told the jury how to think, of course, but you’d be very wrong if you thought more than 30 seasons of coverage hasn’t set the agenda for final. The jury is going to want to know what each castaway did to get there, how they controlled their own destiny and, of course, what Big Moves™ they made.
Michele knows this. And that’s why she’s the most frustrating type of character to me. She’s a good player, but, I believe, she’s fundamentally scared. She knows she needs to make a move, but she also knows she’s not vulnerable, that she can continue to skate by and, potentially, make the end.
But she can’t win, at least with her resume so far. Not to belabor the theory, but the agenda for final tribal was set years ago. The jury knows what to think about and I find it very hard to believe a jury is going to reward the type of play Michele is displaying right now.
She might make the end. Heck, right now, I would predict Michele to be sitting there at the end with Aubry and Cydney. But does anyone think she’d be any more than a goat at this point? Of course not.
We shall see how this plays out soon enough, but I feel like the game may have already gotten away from Michele. At this point, what can she really do? I’m not sure.
But I do think this is a lesson for future players: The game evolved a certain way and, recently, we’ve seen what type of players juries reward. Michele isn’t that type of player. And, at some point, if you don’t make a move, you’re kind of stuck without an option. We’ll see about Michele …
Now let’s focus on the six folks still in the game. Some have a chance to win, some don’t.
And we’re done. Next week I’ll try to be on time again and have this done by Friday. No promises though. Have a great week and let’s talk in the comments.
Pat Ferrucci started watching Survivor when episode two of Borneo first aired. He’s seen every episode since. Besides recapping here, he’ll be live-tweeting this season from the Mountain Time Zone. Why? Because nobody cares about the Mountain Time Zone except when they want to ski. Follow him @patferrucci for Survivor stuff and tweets about anything and everything that enters his feeble mind.