Well, in theory... Pat Ferrucci's S33 recaps

Ep.3: Paul's poorly framed response sinks him


According to the ever trusty Nielsen polls that use some kind of hocus pocus to generalize and figure out ratings, a little more than 8.5 million folks watched Survivor this week. Did literally one person in that 8.5 million not cringe when Paul told Jessica he would let her know before he f’ed her over?


Let’s be honest, clearly everyone – and I do think everyone – should have pushed for CeCe’s removal because of her consistently horrid challenge performances, but right when Paul answered Jessica’s question in that exact manner ­— we all knew it was over for him. Just like when Eddie and Alex first canned poor Davey pack in 1985, the Gen X’ers were clearly ditching Paul. And unlike Davey, Paul isn’t returning for some horrid money-grabbing episodes later on down the line.


Does anyone else feel proud of me for continuing that analogy for a whole paragraph? Man, that was fun. And I didn’t even have to mention Gary Cherone, the sadly never remembered member of Van Halen who’s also in that really dated video with Nuno


But we’re not here to reminisce about '80s hair metal, right? You’ve all come to talk theory and that’s what we’re going to do.


While watching Paul’s really bad performance, I couldn’t help but think of framing theory. A popular theory (or not a theory and just a concept, depending on who you ask) in the social sciences, framing is used a whole lot in my particular field: journalism studies.


The general idea behind framing is that when communicating messages, the sender makes certain bits of information more salient for the receiver. The concept describes how people make sense of information. Sociologist Erving Goffman was one of the first scholars to discuss framing, and he argued that frames provide a specific focus. When I think of framing research, I always go back to George Washington University professor Robert Entman, who defined it as a process of making “aspects of a perceived reality more salient in a communicating text, in such a way as to promote a particular problem definition.”  


To put this more simply, when journalists, for example, report on a story, they pick and choose the information they think most important and attempt to make that content more salient for the receivers. Basically, there are a whole lot of ways to communicate honest, accurate information and the way we choose to do so is the way we’re framing the conversation, the information.


Paul again


Paul enjoyed a lot of options when Jessica asked him about a potential men’s alliance. Simply saying, “We’ve never talked about that” would have been honest and open. He’d probably still be in the game if he said that. If Paul framed the conversation and his answer as something he would never do, he’d still be in the game.


But Paul’s fatal mistake involved saying too much and talking about how if that happened, he would tell Jessica first. When Jessica left that conversation, the only thing that mattered to her was that Paul implicitly admitted he’s closer with the guys. That’s the info Paul made salient in his conversation. He framed the message in a certain way and totally affected how Jessica received it.


So much in the game of Survivor is about framing. How Jeff asks questions at tribal is another good example. He’ll ask seemingly innocuous questions where he’s trying oh so hard to make some subtext salient and therefore hoping it creates friction or elicits a great response. Or how about how Michele framed ditching Mari to Will last week? Brilliant. What castaways say to other castaways and, more importantly, how they say it is so important in the game. That’s all framing, sort of, and Paul did a horrible job of it. And now he’s home listening to Panama.


But while Paul’s home due to bad framing, we still have some housekeeping to do. Here are my thoughts on those remaining in the game:


Gen X — Takali

Gen X/Takali tribe


  • 1. Chris — It’s, well, it’s so easy to say it doesn’t matter who’s on the bottom this early in the game when you’re on the top. This should teach Chris a quick lesson. I still don’t think this lawyer is in much danger right now since he’s clearly a physical presence on this tribe of, well, not-so-physical presences.


  • 2. CeCe — I want to badmouth Probst for being so over the top with his put downs of CeCe during the challenge and the Tribal, but then I think back to what it looked like watching CeCe attempt to get over the balance beam. It was selfish to continue trying when Chris could have done it for her. Man, that was uncomfortable to watch. And while the other women saved CeCe this week, I’m not sure it’s going to help that much. CeCe isn’t long for this game, in my mind.


  • 3. Ken — There are a couple players like this season that have amazed me at how different they are than I expected. Ken is the best example. I honestly predicted just another attractive model-type without much of a game, but my fellow Colorado resident is surprising me. He’s my favorite player so far.



  • 5. Jessica — Honestly, I think Jessica and her female alliance made a poor move ditching Paul this week. The old alliance featured three men and three women, so it’s not like the women were on the bottom. And, more importantly, come a merge or a need to vote someone out, my guess is any outsider would have sided with the women over those three men. Too much, too soon, Jessica. Although I hope I’m wrong, since I’m admiring her ability to take big swings.


  • 6. David — Speaking of too much, too soon, let’s meet David again. While this dude might be setting himself up for a deep run (since nobody’s scared of him) and maybe a repeat appearance on the show, one thing David isn’t doing is playing to win. Basically every move he backs is bad and seemingly reactionary. Play the game and calm down, man. He’s enjoyable to watch, but just recklessly dumb, like that conversation with Taylor.


  • 7. Lucy — I think I saw someone named Lucy on the show this week. Maybe I had too much beer and it was a ghost?


  • 8. Sunday — Similar to last week, Sunday kind of got lost in the shuffle this episode. Producers clearly made the decision to flip seem like Jessica’s, all because of her conversation with Paul. Honestly, I’ve been impressed with Sunday’s ability to blend in. I thought her background as a teacher would make that too hard.


Millennials — Vanua

Millennials/Vanua tribe


  • 1. Adam — Did anybody else notice the Winner’s Edit™ building for Adam this week? I could be 100 percent wrong, but some of those quotes and confessionals sure made it sound like Adam is about to do some heavy damage in this game.


  • 2. Hannah — Please remind me never to engage in conversation with Hannah.


  • 3. Michelle — After such an amazing edit and episode last week, the Woman with the Braid kind of disappeared this episode and seemingly received little credit for what looked like her masterful moves last week. Interesting …


  • 4. Taylor — Since you snowboard and all, next time you’re in Colorado, Tails, make sure to check this out.


  • 5. Zeke — We didn’t get to see much of Zeke this week besides his hilarious conversation with Hannah. That makes me sad because I enjoy watching Zeke. I’m still thinking he’s destined for a long run in the game.


  • 6. Jay — I consistently find myself pleasantly surprised by how decently Jay seems to be playing, even though I’m not sure he’s seen an episode before.


  • 7. Michaela — Maybe besides Ken, Michaela is turning out to be my favorite player of the season. I think she’s in a good spot right now.


  • 8. Figgy — When Figgy began talking in the third person, taking some credit for a move she literally had nothing to do with, my brain started hurting. I needed to take an Advil.


  • 9. Will — I wonder how Ronald Reagan would do in immunity challenges? I guess it depends on the age he was at the time, right? I mean, 78-year-old President Reagan would probably suck. But I bet 40-year-old Reagan and his monkey would kick some ass. Jesus would probably clean up in challenges also. I wonder if Will thinks about this as much I apparently do?


OK, so with that, let’s call it a column. I mean, the Red Sox start soon, so this needs to end.


Pat Ferrucci Survivor 31 recapsPat 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.