Sunday, October 24, 2010

Survivor Nicaragua Leadership Coups and Social Platforms


This season of Survivor Nicaragua has explored various social topics. This season it has held a pretty diverse cast. From a divorcee to an amputee, from a Super Bowl winning Coach to a Manager of a Technology Company. The original premise of the season was a social experiment to see if it is possible that a tribe cast solely of people over 40, which included a famous Super Bowl winning Coach, could hold their own against a tribe cast solely of younger people all under the age of 30. This was not the first time Survivor producers did this experiment. This experiment has been explored during the first part of Survivor Exile Island (Panama) when they divided tribes into Young Men vs Older Men and Young Women vs Older Women. However this season the social experiment of the game seems to be first and foremost the main star of the season. As the experiment led to other platforms and other agendas underlying within the tribes.

By dividing the tribes by age factors I found myself as a viewer wanting to ask the age old question, will the older tribe have what it takes to outlast the younger more virile members of La Flor? How will the tribes perform in challenges and how will keeping the tribes segregated by age affect camp life? I have noticed that it did very well affect camp life as both camps seemed to have differing factors going on within their camps. From leadership issues amidst the Older Tribe to more social issues amidst the Younger Tribe.

During the segregation the older Tribe, in camp; had a camp that was run via organization. However to run such an organized camp would mean there had to be a leader amongst the tribe to dole out tasks. There were within Espada, the various personalities who sought to be leader amongst the males in a pecking order hierachy.

What should have been an easy factor, to determine a leader, however; became their primary social issue. In finding a solution to this social factor, it flushed out that there were underlying egos amongst the tribe whose need and desire for the role would not settle back without conflict. Their natural desire to not only lead plus their desire to find validation through leadership became a compelling battle ground early.


In the very beginning you had Jimmy Johnson, who is a natural born leader and who appeared to be the Daddy of the tribe. Jimmy's dedication to his tribe was affectionate. He appeared to want to lead using order, pep talks, set an example and help whichever way he could to see someone take it to the end amidst his tribe. His was natural and not ego based. Jimmy Johnson has made a career out of leading various personalities throughout his many seasons of being a professional Coach. His should have been undisputed leadership. However within ranks a Machiavellian dispute for leadership instead was blooming.


Meanwhile amidst this was an Alpha Male pecking order battle based purely on Ego and a need for validation. This battle pitted Marty Piombo against Jimmy Tarrentino who both sought the title of leadership and the means to seize it in a coup against Jimmy Johnson. All of this reading like a Shakespearian drama.

Fitfully,this started Day One as both quietly spoke to the others of wanting to take JJ out for various reasons used. From game to even noting how weak Jimmy appears to be physically. Watching this as a viewer I could see the writing on the wall.


In the end both join up and take out Jimmy Johnson in pure Shakesperian factor. Only to turn around and turn on each other in a matter of days in yet another fascinating drama of who will be King or who will be beggar?

The winner ended up being someone who already had been setting up his foothold for the throne and had built up the strength through persuasion and strategical moves. The master strategist of the camp Marty Piombo.

To make sure his leadership would not be challenged post Jimmy T, Marty gave Tyrone Davis a distinctive title of Challenge Leader to future stamp out any idea of another Coup. This move quietly did provoke the tribe I am sure. But no one wanted to challenge Marty so authoritatively.

If Espada would have stayed in check, the game on their end would have shown a series of boots that would have been predictable. As by this point this tribe was a pecking order list that was based upon who is closest to it's very leader and within his circle.

Some of the more enjoyable personalities may well have bitten the dust early. The question of whether these folks could have pulled it together to form another quell will never be answered. Making assumptions, I myself feel of the list closest to the boot order that was in check then, that Holly and Jane, had the guts to try but just not the numbers to effectively change things. I feel Tyrone was weak socially and Dan is a follower. Which means that Marty too knew this as well. Any threats are voted off with no question. Holly and Jane being a threat because they were making their own strategical decisions opposite of Marty's decisions.

However, expect the unexpected in Survivor (borrowing a cliché from Big Brother) and the game scape then changed. The tribes are then switched up. Fate would give the next boot on the Espada list a shot at selecting the blue rock to make her own Espada (Holly Hoffman) and fate would allow the strongest player on La Flor a shot at bringing over Jane, Marty and Jill to a new game and a new social hierarchial ring. Now fate has Marty's game being challenged and being challenged by the undisputed player on the La Flor side. Do I see shades of Russell vs Laura re-lived?

Once the game changed up Marty tried, to little effect; a similar hierarchial setup which did not take hold as the younger tribe showed they are not interested in becoming like an extended familial setup. This tribal setup would have had Marty as the patriarchal leader, Jill as his partner and Jane who previously was low on totem pole is now in running for a higher slot.


However Jane, my assumption is, has an axe to grind with Marty and realizes she can bond herself with the numbers and chooses to quietly go against Marty now that she does have the numbers. However Marty is not changing up his style but is doing it in a quiet more stealth way.


I reflect back to Russell Hantz and how he too used a similar strategy however his was more direct verbally. Are you with me or are you against me? I am sole leader.. never question it or you go. I do feel Marty surely took lessons from Evil Russell himself. Which is why I am not worried about his leaving the game so soon. Remember Foa Foa came down in numbers to Galu and bit by bit took over. I see Marty as doing the same.


Far as why he didn't go with a second vote. I feel it is the human need to wanna experiment and challenge the stronger foe to see what they are made of. Kind of like a cat playing with it's prey.


In doing so I do feel Bren and Co. are playing a pretty dangerous game as Marty is a rather forceful player once he has a foothold. He is slowly working to get the foothold by working on Fabio. From what I see he has won that resoundingly as Fabio will not challenge Marty. Next up is finding another foothold and could that well be Sash who is asking for the idol to hold onto? We shall see. But I do feel history is repeating itself. If so we may well see these two, Marty and Jill at the end.

Now to the original La Flor tribe. On this tribe we saw an alliance of minorities bond together and bond together against a minority who they ironically considered a threat?


The minorities idea is also not a new twist as it has shown itself before in the Season of Cook Islands where the Final Four were two Asians, a Hispanic and an African American.


The tribe of La Flor did come off to me a bit sophomoric at times as it seemed to have a bully technique implored against someone whom they considered amputee named Kelly Bruno.

Thoughts that were so solid that they feared if she was left in no one would not win against her. I do wonder if perhaps psychologically that Kelly B's very condition itself posed an embarrassment to the tribe?

As they all pulled ranks early and effectively kept her out.

Even post switch as she was their natural first choice. I almost feel she was perhaps disposable to them because of her handicap. That is sadly how some react to people who have disabilities either with pity or fear or perhaps feel they are not as strong due to their handicaps.

As a viewer I think Kelly B was pretty strong but just never stood a chance against deep down perceptions. Which is why I gained so much respect for her and feel she truly earned the respect vote for having challenged the numbers and the grace for which she had out there.


However watching NaOnka's openly bullying Kelly B was not too fun to watch. Being human I feel we each perceive NaOnka as a bully and Kelly B as a victim.
But in reality I feel NaOnka did this due to anger issues which she then explained during a Tribal. It is so easy when we are angry to lash out against whom we consider as weaker.

If you noticed NaOnka also lashed out against Jud (Fabio) as well and Fabio is more of a laid back person who is not one to challenge anything or anyone.

When he did question NaOnka on her decisions on the sock agenda; what we saw was NaOnka react defensively which shows that it is anger and defensive based.
Deep down anger issues she has within herself do need to be resolved. NaOnka is a good person deep down as I am sure everyone else is as well. But the heart of the matter comes to how we perceive disabilities and weaker personalities as people and how we react when in a larger social stratum. I am sure if we google this we will find similar patterns.


I feel the tribe as a whole (except for Alina who had to overcome this feeling by getting to know Kelly B) may have subconsciously have felt threatened by the handicap itself and not just Kelly B. Which is why she was on the chopping block from the beginning. Their reactions to her and their strategical decisions based on those set reactions may have further played in Marty's favor.

In the coming weeks we shall see who emerges as stronger or who emerges as undisputed in the game itself. I do feel that the ones who were considered weaker before may get a firmer toe grip and that a good game plan never fails anyone.

Thus this season's social experiment has proved entertaining as I enjoy watching the social experiment part of the game. The game may stay predictable or it may not repeat history, in the coming weeks we shall see.

Please comment your thoughts on the season so far below. Please state your thoughts on the social issues and any other thoughts you may have on the game play of any of the cast. Thanks for reading!









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