This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

September 26, 2000

Are We, Too, Survivors?

93 Days until January 1, 2001

This season of the American television program Survivor is over. Now we have the opportunity to relive its duplicity and grossness, human interaction at its worse. But while we thought the whole phenomenon was fascinating, we have observations about the future of entertainment. The American show is not the first "voyeurism experience" on television. England, Holland, Brazil (No Limite), and several other countries have had similar shows.

As we reported in a previous Trend Alert (September 21, 1999), we are becoming "experience junkies," desensitized to our environments by greater and greater extremes. Certainly the allure of being a voyeur in the lives of 16 ordinary people contributed to the amazing growth of the show's audience share, culminating in its remarkable 52 million viewers for the finale.

But there's a bigger picture here: Turned off by unending lip service and rhetoric, we long for authenticity. Shows like Survivor make us feel like we're seeing the "real thing." We feel "in on" the secrets, what's going on behind the scenes. We glimpse a different world, a different reality, one which is very different from our everyday lives in some ways and yet, all too familiar in others. With the added drama of music, lighting and camera angles, we experience the intensity of the lives and interactions of the contestants. It's almost like being there.

So what's next? Before virtual reality becomes inexpensive enough to give us all Star Trek's holodeck, or even an interim substitute, we'll see more extreme versions of "reality shows," especially on cable networks that don't have the same restrictions as broadcast. Expect more nudity and sex. Producers will seek ways to involve the audience more directly, engaging them more in the process and investing them more in the outcome.

Some day in the not too distant future, we WILL be able to "enjoy" these experiences first hand. If we choose to subject ourselves, and some of us will, we will actually feel the fear of being "voted out," the heat of the tropical sun, the joy of winning the immunity test. Whatever turns you on...

Comments from our readers:

In reference to you article on Survivor, some of us who got rightsized by an organization DID feel the reality of being voted out. Although a formal objective valuation of competencies was performed by peers, it was not hard to see that egos, politics and positioning played a larger part of electing who goes or stays. The program survivor is basicallly corporate America at its best. The bigger problem is that we get intriqued with the process and lose the compassion we once had for one another. No sacrifices for the greater cause of mankind or even God. For corporate America, watching survivor is like looking in the mirror. Friendship, loyalty and patnership is a ruse toward the next position. What a legacy to give our children -- how to win a million dollars by alliances, conniving, cheating and lying. They too can become a CEO in this modern day!!!

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