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Voyeuristic competition depicts 'decaying society'

Saturday, July 29, 2000

By Barbara Vancheri and Cristina Rouvalis, Post-Gazette Staff Writers

Although predictions are changing almost as fast as the alliances, we asked a group of Pittsburghers what they thought of "Survivor" and who might win. They offered their guesses before Jenna was ousted this week. Will Richard's naked ambition prevail? Or will Gervase, emerging as a leading candidate in the media, survive?

Click here to predict who will join Greg and Jenna on the tribal-council sidelines.


Mat Wrenshall, marketing intern with Adaboy, a Pittsburgh startup that puts advertising in online video games:

"I enjoy the campiness of it. I enjoy making fun of people on the show. That guy, Richard, his Machiavellian scheming. It is entertaining. It is voyeuristic but is artificially voyeuristic."

Who will win? Susan, his favorite character.


Bambi L. Lynn, a "Survivor" semifinalist who works in finance for Visiting Nurses Association of Western Pennsylvania in Butler:

"I think it's pretty good. I know I've taped every show. I've started a scrapbook, I guess because I was in it at the very beginning. ... None of it really has scared me; it's fascinating. I'm sure we don't see a lot of the stuff they see. I would hope to think I was between a Gretchen and a Sue. Sue can be so overbearing. Gretchen seemed to be the most level-headed one. I still can't figure out Gervase.

"I would have probably eaten anything they put in front of me, even those grubs."

Who will win? "I remember Ramona on 'The Early Show' said everybody was going to be surprised, so probably I should pick the one I least expect. It's a toss-up. I'm actually going toward Richard. I don't know. Everyone thinks Sue, but I think they're going to get rid of her."


Tom Megalis, filmmaker, animator and performer, based in Oakland:

"I can't get past the fakeness of it. First of all, there is the host in a little Banana Republic shirt and little puka beads. That guy really bothers me. Then, I become aware there is a cameraman and producer. How much survivor is there, really? What's next? Putting a camera in a bathroom at the mall?"

Who will win? "Don't know enough to predict."


Bryan Orenchuk, athletic trainer at David Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Center in Mt. Lebanon:

"It is a good show. It shows that in our country, we are cutthroat. The title is unique -- you are surviving the island and you are surviving each other. How are you going to interact when money becomes the issue? The one person I would liked to vote off is Jeff, the narrator, the little annoying gnat. He instigates this strife among people."

Who will win? "I heard recently that Gervase wins. Previously everyone on the Internet said that Rudy would win."


Dr. Paul Friday, chief of clinical psychology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Shadyside:

"Between the voyeurism and the competitiveness and the gender stuff and inclinations toward sexuality, you have a show that is very different. It is kind of like 'Gilligan's Island' without the boxed laughter.

"It clashes with the idea of going to a deserted island and getting away from it all. It gets rid of the delusion, 'If I can only get away, everything will be OK.' You take your problems with you. Your baggage comes along with the journey."

Who will win? "The least selfish person."


Carol O'Sullivan, assistant professor at Pittsburgh Filmmakers:

"The more I watch it, the more I like it. Now, I park myself in front of the TV at 5 minutes to 8. I don't miss one second. I really like studying the human behavior. I think that's real interesting to see who's going to be the leader, who's quiet at the beginning but emerges later, who might seem like they're nice at the beginning but turn out to be sneaky and deceitful.

"The physical aspects of it are interesting, being physically strong to withstand all that, and the setting is beautiful. ...With the editing, it's being manipulated for our eyes."

Who will win? "Either Richard or Susan. I don't really know why, other than they're smart and they're physically strong. And they're also very clever."


Meg Colafella, account manager for Dymun & Co. advertising agency:

"It's addictive. The thing that bothers me, it seems to be boiling down to a popularity contest. I think we all have sense that we got beyond that after high school and grade school. Here we are again in another popularity contest.

"No one wants anyone to go hungry. Yet there is an enjoyment about watching people starve. It is very twisted. Now I am feeling like a big loser. I shouldn't watch it at all. But there is something captivating about it."

Who will win: Richard, because he is the most cunning.


Bingo O'Malley, an actor who lives in Bethel Park:

"I am disgusted by it. I think it plays right into where our culture is going -- the end of the gutter or hopper. The total lack of civility.

"That the whole island is devoted to a kind of competition at the expense of someone else's ego, at the expense of someone else's goodwill and feeling. All of the sudden, there is an entertainment show built around the very things I detest. It is a rip-off of our decaying society."

Who will win? Haven't watched enough to say. Plus to predict "would be giving in to what it stands for."


Cooper Munroe, a Fox Chapel-based public relations consultant:

"It's so bad that it's good. I think the production values and editing are great. I love that we're being sucked in, pulled along, and they pre-edited all this stuff and they're building a story. It kind of lulls you into it.

"You get a sense that the people doing it are having a lot of fun. There's some irony and humor with it. You don't necessarily love the characters. It's just kind of fun to watch in a real cheesy kind of way."

Who will win? "I thought it was going to be Susan, but now that they're saying Gervase. I'm starting to believe the rumors."


Cris Winter, news director for the WDVE morning show:

"It is that whole voyeurism kind of thing. People like to see people not getting along. It's a lot of politics. It's like a work situation. There are people you get along with and people you don't. I am a sucker. I have nothing better going on in my life."

Who will win? Richard, because he is the only person who does a decent job of getting food.


Dawn Keezer, director of the Pittsburgh Film Office:

"I think it's interesting. I don't think Part 2 is going to do as well as this one. I think people are going to get tired of it, evidenced by what's happening with 'Big Brother,' which is flat-out boring. ... I don't like the animal sacrifices -- the chickens and the rats; I think that's a bit much.

"My dad wants to apply [for Australia], but he balked at the 3-minute video. My mom was picking on him. She said they don't want old men."

Who will win? "I'm not sure who I think is going to win."


Frank Golba, architect with Golba & Associates Design, Downtown:

"I've only seen the first two shows and then maybe the fourth. I've been busy and my problem is, it's too edited. You're seeing a week condensed into 60 minutes that the producers are using to tell a story. It's way too structured of an editing process. ... They play good guy-bad guy and then switch off at the end. I haven't seen it since they combined the tribes."

Who will win? "Why should I care?"

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