For years I have been a diehard fan of Survivor. Admittedly it has tapered off but it’s interesting to watch the dynamics of people from different walks of life, communing in surroundings unfamiliar. As the season goes on, I always find myself routing for the nice guy or girl that works hard, plays strategic, respectful and smart. I cheer them on hoping they’ll conquer all. Still there is always a villain. The person you cannot stand. The very thought of them potentially winning the grand prize and title of “Soul Survivor” would send a feeling of disgust to your core. This week’s episode revealed the person that I would least like to win and it angered me so much I wanted to reach through the screen and cuff him upside the head.

For those of you who haven’t been watching the reality series Survivor – One World, it started with the various game players being separated into to two tribes – Women versus Men. The women quickly made it very difficult for any self respecting woman to route for them. They were playing in such a way that it was an embarrassment to women everywhere. Eventually they began to find some balance but not before being scammed by this seasons villain.

His name is “Colton.” His game started by convincing the girls that this poor, helpless, gay guy would be basically bullied and become the first to be voted off if they didn’t help him. Already I disliked him. I have no problem with him being gay. My problem was that instead of representing himself as a confident gay male, he acted like a whiny child and assumed the worst before it even started to happen. This ended up to his advantage when a female player offered him an immunity idol. Was it strategic game play on his part? No, not at that point but he did get lucky. Colton clearly felt empowered by his idol  telling the men he now had it and was safe.  He morphed into a new role with the men in his tribe like he was now king of the castle. What surprised me was how easily the rest of these grown men, bowed to his every whim. Colton words would soon become too much for my ears.

This last week’s episode, Colton became the bully. He managed to convince his tribe to voluntarily go to tribal council, so he could have one member of that tribe voted off simply because he didn’t like him. He blasted him at tribal council saying he didn’t like him because he had an annoying laugh, his jokes were bad, his occupation as a comedian was not a real job, poor,etc. The man he was speaking of was “Bill”, a fun, free-spirited, confident black man. So of course the “race card” was basically played though I’m not sure Colton’s comments in tribal were truly race related. Colton did privately refer to Bill as “getto trash” prior to council. Bill responded saying he accepted Colton for who he was and wished he could do the same. Colton went on to admit he came from wealth, private schooling, no job and that Bill basically wouldn’t be accepted within his “Country Club” world. He snidely laughed that he did have a black friend. She was his housekeeper. End result, Colton’s minions did not see this behaviour as disturbing and still voted Bill off.

There was something equally or perhaps more disturbing to me prior to this portion of the show. Colton spoke of his other tribe mate “Leif” in yet another disrespectful, discriminatory, disgusting manner. This was the moment of red for me. Leif is a Little Person or Person of small stature. Like every label out there, understanding what is politically correct can sometimes be difficult. I prefer to use “Person of small stature” but I’m told “Little Person” is the correct usage. The reason for my preference is that Little Person to me implies they are less significant in some way and I believe they should always be a person first and anything else second. Whatever the case may be, Colton’s description of Leif was despicable. He used words like “munchkin” and “oompa loompa.” In looking at comments across the net, people responded more to the shots on Bill rather than Leif. I can’t help but wonder why.

As a long time fan of this show, I’m struggling to decide if I ever want to watch it again. The controversy clearly gets the ratings however, the network should consider bleeping out or expelling such contestants. If the casting of this show was intentionally done in such a way to set up possible behaviours like this, I think they are treading on thin ice and will lose long time viewers. I can only hope for Bill, Leif and all those offended by what has transpired, there will be at the very least an apology from Colton, the tribe mates that accepted this behaviour and the network.

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(Wheel-ist-ic) Adj: awareness or acceptance of actual fact, real existence, or truth with relation to inclusion, accessibility and/or persons with disabilities.

Let’s Be Wheelisitic is a blog designed to open communication, share and create change through parenting, awareness, inclusion and advocacy. Over the years people have encouraged me to use my voice and experiences with my daughter to help others with or without disabilities, or parents of children with disabilities. This blog is my way of doing just that. I hope you will find this site enjoyable, educational, helpful, and rewarding.
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“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” — Maya Angelou

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