For God, country and the game

Apologists for reality shows claim they are nothing more than television programs starring ordinary people. Ordinary? What is ordinary about a person willing to take two months off his or her private life and work? That automatically rules out wage earners. Jobs that provide this sort of flexibility are usually connected with the tourism industry or night life. Other candidates could be fit and healthy pensioners, students or people of independent means. Participants in these shows have to be thick-skinned to put up with the teasing and practical jokes. They have to be sociable and communicative, but also prepared not to trust anyone. Many participants declare themselves to be religious, often openly praying to God. Exoticism is blended with patriotism. Shortly before one 60-year-old woman withdrew from a show, she stood to attention in front of the Greek flag at the camp on her desert island and sang the national anthem. Some participants apparently see themselves as ambassadors of the Hellenic spirit out in the middle of the Indian Ocean. So it’s about the motherland and religion, as well as sport. And let’s not forget that very Greek concept of filotimo (loosely translated as «personal pride»). The Greek version of «Survivor» is more conservative than the American original. The men are «real» men (in fact one participant brought 30 condoms with him just in case). The winner of the first American «Survivor» was Richard Hatch, who characterized himself as a «nude fat faggot.» In the American version, participants have to down disgusting meals (including wriggling worms, dead insects, raw cow brains, raw bulls’ testicles and «ecological» guano). The most outlandish meal our compatriots have had to suffer was python meat. Greek participants are also more generous and less individualistic than their American counterparts, but also less honest about their emotions.