Survivor: Philippines - an Analysis Using Communication Theory

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“SURVIVOR: PHILIPPINES”: An Analysis of the CBS Program Using Three Theories of Communication

Sally Annabella

Communications 307 Dr. Debbie Way November 2012

No one has died. Some have been medevacked. It’s a rough game. The CBS television series Survivor is one of the first ‘reality tv’ shows and is now in its 12th year. It features eighteen contestants striving to "Outwit, Outplay and Outlast" each other to win one million dollars by the end of the season. While it is important to be in good physical shape (the challenges are just that, physically challenging) it is imperative to have impeccable communication skills. In watching episodes of the current season, Survivor: Philippines, I have noticed: Communication Privacy Management Theory, Message Design Logics, Uncertainty Reduction Theory, Politeness Theory, and Social Exchange Theory. While this paper only requires three theories to be mentioned, I will show that all five are tied together. Each season Survivor is filmed over a period of 39 days on a different remote island. The contestants are divided into two or three tribes that start out competing against each other in challenges for a) rewards such as fishing supplies or an elegant feast and b) the coveted Immunity Idol, a token that means they will have the chance to play another three days. The tribe that does not win the idol will have to go to Tribal Council (an event that happens generally every three days) and risk being voted out of the game, hence no chance of winning the million dollar prize. About half-way through the season, the tribes merge into one, each player now plays for himself, and the remaining challenges are centered around winning Individual Immunity. All of the remaining players now go to Tribal Council and vote out one player.

These ousted players now form the Jury, and they will be the ones to ultimately vote at the end of the game (when there are three remaining players) on who will take home the million dollars....
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