The Great Lie

Episode Report Card
Miss Alli: B | Grade It Now!
Reports Of Granny Fairplay's Death Are Greatly Exaggerated

So. The debate all week has been whether Jon's maneuver here was (1) low; (2) brilliant; (3) potentially effective; or (4) good television. My answers would be (1) yes; (2) no; (3) slightly; and (4) yes. Allow me to explain. I generally hate moralizing about Survivor. I hate people who preen about playing with integrity, I hate people like Rupert who find moral outrage in being voted out when being voted out is the heart of the game, and I hate people who think that they "deserve" to stay around just because they do the most work around the camp. Therefore, the fact that Jon was going for an advantage does not, in and of itself, bother me, nor does the fact that he lied. Nevertheless, even within those boundaries, there are still lots of choices about how you're going to act. You still have the option of acting like a gratuitous asshole or not acting like one, and there's no proof over time that acting like a gratuitous asshole is an inherently good strategy. More to the point, I don't even think Jon's main reasons for doing this were strategic. There's a clip of him on explaining that he wants to go down in history as the dirtiest player ever, and we've already been given the full benefit of his intense interest in professional wrestling. It doesn't have a lot to do with winning the game; it's just an attention-getting stunt. It certainly isn't "brilliant," as second-graders throughout history have often tried the same thing. Unlike some strategic moves that require a careful and intelligent read of the other people in the game and how exactly to take advantage of them, this is a very crude approach -- as BDD said, it was formulated before Jon had any idea what would be going on in the game at this point or who the people would be. It's a blunt force tactic that, while he got away with it, didn't have any particular elegance, strategically.

Furthermore, it's still asshole behavior, even if it was strategic. Everybody else misses the people they love as well, and lying your way into being the only person who gets to see his friend by taking advantage of other people's decency is just shitty, whether you do it inside or outside of a game. It's not cheating, and it's not screwing with the integrity of the game or anything like that -- but Jon's still a dick. I agree with those who have observed that there's such a thing as using a jackass strategy, which for the most part involves making it to the merge and then convincing people that they should take you to the finals, because you're such a huge prick that they can easily beat you in a jury vote. However, that's only one of several possible ways to play, and my sense about people in a game like this is that they don't choose strategies at random. To the degree that they bother to choose strategies at all, they choose strategies that suit them. Most people who choose the jackass strategy do it because they're jackasses, and they know they're jackasses, and they know that no one will like them anyway, so they might as well use it to their advantage. Even if it's a strategic maneuver, that doesn't mean he's not an jackass. Just as I'm quite confident that Evil Doctor Will really is an egotistical shit in real life despite the fact that acting like an egotistical shit was also his strategy, I'm quite confident that Jon is a grating, obnoxious, eleven-year-old in real life, even if acting like one is also his strategy. Therefore, when I see him act like a grating, obnoxious, eleven-year-old, I still think he sucks for doing it, even if his reasons for doing it are strategic, and even if it works.

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