WSJ Says Mark Burnett Out-Witted


Cynopsis, the TV-biz newsletter, published reader responses today, for the first time ever–and all about Survivor. Cynthia Turner, the editor/owner of the essential tip sheet (and now blog), wrote yesterday:

Sidebar from Cyn: It’s been my observation in the current brou-ha-ha over Survivor that the louder someone has hollered about racial issues in the upcoming season of this series; the less likely they have ever actually seen an episode of Survivor.

And she got mail. Taylor Kelsaw, product placement/marketing guru, wrote:

This is a lousy and lazy way to do TV. I work or have worked on several of Mr. Burnett’s shows and have enjoyed my experiences both for me and for our clients. I am a friend of Jeff Probst and will continue to be after this has come and gone. However, this is one show I wouldn’t touch, ever.

And the Wall Street Journal agrees. From today’s editorial:

Ultimately, though, these shows are about more than the tackier aspect of popular entertainment. They are about the surrounding culture. The therapeutic ethos of recent years has encouraged each of us to get every thought off our chest, lest we suffer from the ordeal of civility. Think of all of those college orientation games in which freshmen are urged to be utterly honest about their feelings toward people of other races, religions and sexual orientations; those “trust building” exercises that are supposed to encourage open communication among business colleagues; those tell-all memoirs that dominate the best-seller lists; those day-time talk shows that spew personal family details; those grief counselors who flock to disaster sites and instruct victims to talk about their feelings over and over.
We mock the “repressed” denizens of 1950s America or Victorian England for keeping their feelings to themselves. But as Mr. DeGraff notes, there is a “dark side” to human psyches. We cannot root out the possibility of race-based loyalties from our innermost thoughts. But we need not encourage them either. And we can surely suggest that some things are better left unsaid.

Mark Burnett and his producers have achieved a stunning pair of goals–everybody hates their ideas and everybody talks about the show.

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