SURVIVOR BLOGGING….As a longtime Survivor fan, I guess I’m supposed to be outraged by this season’s newest gimmick: segregating the tribes by race and then pitting black against white, Asian against Latino. In reality (no pun intended), my initial response was, What took them so long?

After all, Survivor has never had any problem slicing and dicing the tribes by age or gender. Why is that OK but ethnicity isn’t? Sacha Zimmerman expands on this today over at TNR:

In a country where the struggle for racial equality is a defining feature of our recent past (and where race remains a topic at the forefront of issues that span everything from education and poverty to military enlistment and pop culture), even the specter of segregation seems shocking.

But is it really? Whether it’s in the ethnic enclaves of the inner city, suburban sprawl, or gated communities, America is a segregated country….In fact, Burnett’s reality-TV stunt may actually reflect reality better than any other so-called reality programs out there. In a TV landscape where contestants are often plucked out of suburbia and placed in a totally contrived situation with a totally contrived racial make-up (think “Big Brother” or the “The Real World”), Burnett is simply codifying what everybody else has been happily ignoring since reality TV hit the mainstream; he is breaking the illusion that any of the other reality TV shows in any way reflect our everyday lives.

I pretty much agree. I’ll bet this turns out better than people think, much as Welcome to the Neighborhood would have if Disney hadn’t caved in and pulled the show. At the same time, I agree with Zimmerman that it’s probably going to matter a lot less to the actual operation of the show than people think. (And if it doesn’t ? well, that’s why God invented editors.)

So: wait and see. American TV has always been a yeasty blend of simple storylines and treacly moralism, and I’ll bet that when all is said and done, the treacly moral of this season’s Survivor will be exactly what you think it will be: we need to look beyond racial stereotypes and accept every individual on the basis of their true inner gifts. Do you honestly think it will end up any other way?

More on a separate subject below the fold.

Survivor has been criticized in the past for being too white, but check out where this year’s contestants live for a heaping helping of geographic favoritism. Here’s the list:

San Diego, CA
Washington DC
New York, NY
Santa Monica, CA
Washington DC
Christiansburg, VA
Oakland, CA
Los Angeles, CA
Lake Forest, IL
Chico, CA
Los Angeles, CA
Long Beach, CA
Playa del Rey, CA
Venice, CA
West Hollywood, CA
Laurelton, NY
Los Angeles, CA
Columbia, SC
Los Angeles, CA
San Mateo, CA

Do you notice any particular area of the country that’s a wee bit overrepresented? Sheesh.

As for me, I guess I’ll be rooting for Jessica Smith and her cat Alita, who reside in Chico. She’s a “performance artist/rollergirl,” and my best pal in Chico will be amused to read that she moved there at age 18 in order to live in “a town that supports the arts.”