Well hello, everyone. Thanks for coming back (or joining us for the first time) to talk some theory and Survivor: Cambodia. Let’s get right down to it.
We’re going to take this a little far out this week. What do I mean? Well, we’re going to stretch this theory a little thin.
Instead of borrowing from social psychology again (we’ll do more of that as the season goes on), I thought it’s time to finally explore mass communication, which is my wheelhouse.
You see, last week I mentioned how I consider myself more in the sociology camp than the psychology one. But the primary thing I study in my real job is the media, specifically how it operates and forms messages. I typically study the media as a sociologist would. So for this week, I decided let’s look at agenda-setting theory.
So with agenda setting, we’re reaching back to some of the earlier work on journalism. In fact, while agenda-setting theory really took off in the 1970s because of some seminal work by a couple of University of North Carolina scholars, many people trace the idea back to the great Walter Lippmann.
Now you’re probably wondering, “Well, tell us what the heck the theory says.” OK, yeah, it’s time for that. Just one more bit of context. When people first started studying media in a scholarly manner in the beginning of the 20th century, the first researchers believed that media had direct effects on people. Basically, they sort of believed that if you saw something on TV, for example, you’d believe it. Of course, this isn’t true. So here comes agenda setting.
The basic, most underlying idea of agenda-setting theory is that the media doesn’t tell us how to think, but what to think about. The theory states the media gathers all this information and then decides how to shape it and, for the purpose of this column, what to make the most important and focus on. Then, we as media consumers see a lot about certain topics the media’s deemed important and therefore we think about them more.
In the case of this week’s Survivor, let’s move away, sort of, from Jeff Varner and talk about Tasha Fox. I think at the end of the challenge this week, we saw Tasha utilize agenda-setting theory.
Presumably near the bottom of a six-person tribe, Tasha saw Jeff trying to communicate with Kelly. Even though it may have backfired, Tasha knew if she made a spectacle and did what she did, it would put the focus on Jeff and take it off her and Andrew. It may not have worked in the long run, the old Ta Keo folks still might have booted her or Andrew, but she was able to set the agenda, to make Jeff the focus of everyone’s thoughts.
In the end, Tasha didn’t force anyone to think a certain way, but she did, in a way, force everyone to think about a certain subject. Everyone talked about Jeff and his trustworthiness (or lack thereof) back at camp. The people in his alliance didn’t know if they could trust him. Abi even called him wishy-washy! Holy poop that’s the pot calling the kettle black. But I digress.
To get out of trouble, Tasha effectively utilized agenda-setting theory. She basically decided what everyone back at camp would talk about … all the while hoping that this discussion led to her and Savage flipping the tribe dynamic. It worked.
OK, as usual, with the end of theory talk comes some stray thoughts about those remaining in the game:
- 1. Terry — Terry did the cabbage patch. I really don’t know if there’s anything else I need to say. Oh, and at one point during the pre-season or early season, I feel like Probst mentioned something about love blossoming this season. I could be wrong. But if I remember correctly, then I think we found the love connection this week: Terry and Joe.
- 2. Kelley — Well, I think she made her first bad move this week. Immediately throwing Terry under bus seemingly just puts a target on Kelley. She’s made it known now, she’s a player. I’m not sure that’s good long-term strategy.
- 3. Joe — Joe will beat you at challenges. It doesn’t matter if it’s physical or mental, he will win. You stand no chance. Get out before he hurts you. The real question that’s arising is Joe vs. Ozzy … who’s better physically? I mean, we know the answer mentally.
- 4. Ciera — Hey, question for you readers: You watch Survivor a lot, right? Do I remember correctly? Is Ciera the one who voted her mom out? I think she is, but she spoke this episode and didn’t mention voting her mom out, so I’m a little confused.
- 5. Kass — I wonder if Kass is home watching these episodes and is sad each one barely incudes her. On Cagayan, it was the Kass and Tony show, every week …
- 6. Keith — Keith must spit now. He won challenge. Must return to woods and spit. What is this newfangled chair you speak of? Hammock? Keith likes how there are holes in this chair called hammock. It means he can spit on chair and said spit will reach ground. Keith likes to spit.
- 1. Spencer — The Winner’s Edit™ arrived this week, at least to this longtime watcher’s eyes. You know that with all the focus on not repeating prior mistakes and now all the focus on Spencer learning to let his emotions out (by telling a story about not having emotions!), we’re settling in for a long ride with Spencer. I thought he’d a be a big target and get the boot quick, but the setup of the new Bayon tribe makes me wonder.
- 2. Jeremy — Well, let’s just say that Jeremy grabbing that idol was nowhere near as fun as Kelley’s get a couple weeks ago. I’m still not sure what to think with Jeremy. He’s doing pretty well right now, but being forced to work with such non-alphas as Stephen must be killing his psyche. Seriously, though, it looks like Jeremy is set up for a long run this time.
- 3. Stephen — Now speaking of Stephen, let’s talk about Camp Macho™. I had two very clear and definitely insightful thoughts. Camp Macho™ either consisted of the entire tribe spontaneously breaking into the Village People at least 17.5 times per day. Or it included ghostly appearances from “Macho Man” Randy Savage taunting each tribe member with ghost Slim Jims. One of those two scenarios is absolutely true. You choose what to believe. I’m not hear to shove my dreams down your throat.
- 4. Kimmi — Speaking of ghosts, Kimmi remains not seen or heard. And that’s weird. People from Long Island are always seen and most definitely always heard. I feel like producers are just waiting for the inevitable Abi-Maria vote off and then they’ll unleash Kimmi Kappenberg on the world (again). I, for one, cannot wait.
- 5. Monica — My winner pick speaks! I cannot tell you how relieved I was when Monica said a couple words. I don’t think it would be easy for a mute to win the million. I mean, I could be wrong. Russell might have won if he was a mute. But, alas, without definitive evidence, we don’t know if a mute can win Survivor. Thankfully, Monica speaks.
- 6. Kelly — Kelly showed a wee bit of personality this week. Now, do I think she’s still a waste of a spot for television? Yep. Do I think she’s strategically sound? Nope. And neither does Varner, hence the cross-tribal advice, which might have ruined his game. Her game was already near done.
- 1. Abi-Maria — Let me go on record with an award for Abi-Maria: She is my least favorite Survivor contestant ever. That says a lot. Man, she’s a horrid player and a horrid person, on the show. It’s honestly amazing. And it makes me like the contestants who choose to keep her around less. Although, I have a feeling her reign of terror ends soon. She’s got two episodes left. That’s my prediction.
- 2. Woo — Poor Woo. And poor Angkor. They had to build a whole new camp and they’re stuck with the worst Survivor ever in Abi and, quite possibly, the most clueless Survivor ever in Woo. I remember when folks liked to compare Woo to Fabio. When Fabio seems to have a better understanding of all facets of the game than you do, that might be an issue. Of course, I’m excited for Fabio on some future Legends season. That’s right: Fabio, the man, the myth, the legend.
- 3. Jeff — This is what happens when you play too hard. Subtlety is a key in Survivor. Even when you’re ruling with an iron fist like Kim or Boston Rob or Brian, you do it in a subtle way. Jeff doesn’t seem to understand that word… and it’s going to make him a bigger target as we move further into the game.
- 4. Tasha — Tasha had a hell of a week. If she and Savage can make the merge, with all the other Bayon members seemingly in control on the other tribes, Tasha could do some damage. We know that the post merge game will include some alpha-male hunting, and that could leave people like Tasha and, dare I say it, Stephen in a really good spot.
- 5. Andrew — This episode sucked for Andrew. He didn’t get to tearfully tell his new tribe about the time he had a bunch of Hustlers on his desk when some random person walked into his office. They went and got coffee together and that person hired Andrew. And now he’s been at his job for like 16 amazing years.
And that’s it. Theory talking: It’s some fun stuff, sometimes. Let’s try again next week. OK?