Sunday, April 22, 2012

SSAC Report: One World E10 Take It Like Troyzan

Troyzan: “I’m totally pissed off. I feel like I’m completely alone now. But when I get pissed off, I get fired up. I’m like now I’m going to win every damn immunity. I could give a crap about those people. This is no team anymore. I’m no team player. This is just Troyzan versus everybody else. That’s the way I feel.”

(Opening Credits)

Troyzan: "Listen, it's really not fair that there's three or four people...I don't even know what they're doing here."

Chelsea: "It's just the game."

Troyzan: "This is how ridiculous these people are. They think I'm supposed to come back to camp 'Oh, hey, it's just a game. We're just having fun here.' So I'm like, what are you kidding me? I have the right to be angry."

Chelsea: "As much as I hate to say it, you can't take it like Jonas. He took it like a man."

Troyzan: "These girls are kind of acting like what a lot of women act like in real life. They get their house. They get their food. They get all their stuff. Then as soon as they fell satisfied they go, 'Oh guess what? We don't need you no more. You're done. We're done with the guy.'"

I usually wait until after the season to write a broad sweeping philosophical analysis of the season’s themes and place them within the context of Survivor history and our culture, but the above exchange between Troyzan and Chelsea was too delicious to pass up. Rarely does a scene come along that encapsulates the essential tension of ideas for a story (unless that story is particularly well composed). This season of Survivor must be well designed, as the argument was one of those scenes. Here’s the set up:

-Initially, the men were the powerhouse tribe, building a perfect camp and the women needed to seek shelter from there, only barely surviving on their own.

-Post-Switch, nu-Salani dominated because of the muscle of Mike and Troyzan.

-Post-merge, Kim decided to vote out the men, starting with Jonas and then taking out Mike and Jay (though targeting Troyzan) once she had the advantage.

-In other words, the women, and most specifically Kim, gained the advantage in the game off of the ability of the men, which the men were then punished for (voted out).

-Troyzan is angry about this.

(As always the above is story analysis, though I do argue that the story is a distilled and romanticized version of what actually played out.)

In a confessional before the credits, Troyzan tells us his arc over the rest of the episode (and possibily the season). It’s him versus. everyone else. Not how in the merge episode he asserted that it was him versus. eleven other people and that was what he wanted. More importantly, he’s mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. He’s completely on his own, as his allies were all voted out (Jonas and Jay) or have turned against him (Kim and Chelsea) and everyone else won’t talk to him (Christina and Alicia). His frustration is completely understandable and justifiable. That’s what setups his exchange with Chelsea after the credits.

The two sides of the argument that are set up is “it’s just a game” and “the game is a reflection of reality.” Chelsea falls into the former category, as her only defense to Troyzan’s assertion that there is no rational reason for some players to be in the game is “it’s just a game.” This catchphrase has been repeated in recent seasons by players such as Russell Hantz and Chase Rice or displayed in the thought processes of players such as Sash Lenahan and Albert Destrade. No, that’s not very company to be in. Troyzan falls into the latter category, as he ends the disagreement with a confessional about the real life parallels with the situation. This broader perspective has been linked with some of the most successful and heroic players. What makes the clash of ideas interesting though is the interpretation of both players.

From Chelsea’s perspective, Troyzan is acting villainous. He is being overly emotional and erratic. There is no purpose to acting as if he does. Her and Sabrina’s responses to Troyzan throughout the episode followed from there. They were often disgusted and offended at his behavior. Likewise, this analysis is what many fans are supporting this week. The fun loving fan of the game that Troyzan was has become a bitter old arrogant jerk.

From Troyzan’s perspective, the women are acting villainous. They are ingrates who used the men to get where they are and deserve to lose because of it. His determination and approach to the game over the rest of the episode followed from there. He refused to shift his focus from defeating those people who were succeeding off the backs of others. Fewer fans are supporting this analysis this week. It is a difficult position to take in modern society where gender roles have been blurred and relationships between them are growing in difficulty (the divorce rate is about 50%, here’s a complex table about it:

What is being questioned this season is the definition of manhood and womanhood. This particular episode explicitly asked what it means to be a man when Chelsea told Troyzan to, “Take it like a man.” In her estimation, manhood meant to live silently and happily the way Jonas did. However, there are two major problems with her assertion. First, Jonas’ situation was a lot different than Troyzan’s. He had no alliance with the women (though he could have been understandably angry at some of the men for voting for him). Second, and more importantly, why is “taking it” what a man does? When did the definition manhood become silently and stoically accepting reality? This is what Troyzan is referring to in his confessional of the women getting their stuff and ditching the men. I have to wonder, do modern men just take it because that is what they are told manhood is? What about fighting for what you believe in, want, and what is rightfully yours? That is what Troyzan is doing.

(Note: This discussion traces all the way back to the first Immunity Challenge where Troyzan defended the men’s choice to take the win whereas the women fought against it and Kim complained in a confessional that the action wasn’t very chivalrous. I asserted back then, against the prevailing tides, that the men weren’t made to look bad and stand by that assessment. It is Kim who is yearning for an archaic definition of manhood, and that may ultimately do her in as Troyzan isn’t going to take it chivalrously.)

The response to these questions is that it’s not that Troyzan is fighting, but how he is fighting. He’s being abrasive and rude, angering everyone that he could work with or will be a jury member. This, however, begs the ultimate question of Survivor: who defines what is moral, the individual or the collective? In my estimation, Survivor, especially of late, has continually come down on the side of the individual…and it did again this episode. Troyzan played the ultimate trump cards in his disagreement with Tarzan. He stated that he was acting within his personality (and by extension he wasn’t intentionally attempting to harm anyone else) and that he hoped everyone else would act toward him as he was acting toward them. He has his standards and that is what he holds himself and others too. Then at Tribal when he was explaining the proper move to Christina, Tarzan, Alicia, and Leif, he told them that the move wasn’t right for him, but for themselves. Yes, though it was exacerbated by the game, Troyzan argued the logical end of individualism—rational self-interest.

That is the concept Survivor has always, explicitly or implicitly, brought to the discussion table. That is what good storytelling does, creates a slightly unnatural exaggerate situation that places ideas and the actions that stem from them at odds. That is what has made Survivor One World such a great season so far. Kim versus Troyzan isn’t just Kim versus Troyzan, it’s The Head of the Snake versus Beyond the Charm. It has been my and this commission’s assessment that this season has always favored the latter, and this episode only strengthened our resolve. We urge to re-watch the episode, especially the auction and the challenges, with the above discussion in mind.


Anonymous said...

I just read this because @troy_zan tweet it.. nice blog though. hope you make more.. a fan of troyzan i am.. @kacangoreng277

Paula said...

@Troy_zan for fan favorite!

you know who said...

Why would I go back and rewatch (again, I might add, as I've already watched the episode 2+ times) with your particular analysis in mind, when you refuse to consider, entertain, or even peruse the analysis of anyone else? You expect people to go back and see it your way, but you flat out refuse to even consider the possibility that a Sabrina or a Kim might have a compelling storyline developing as well. Don't you understand why I, and so many others, perceive this as arrogance?

Don't get me wrong, I find your analyses to be interesting curiosities, but why do you leave out portions of the story? You barely touch on kim throughout the article, (other than the chivalry story) but you bring her up as the "Head of the Snake" in your closing paragraph.

Maybe your subconscious is betraying you and you already know, way down, what the true outcome is to be. But if so, it's hard to blame you; your treatment of Kim is not much different than that of the editors in episode 10.

Kim was kept out of the conflict that permeated the episode almost entirely, only to rise to the occasion at the very end and alleviate the doubts Troy was attempting to create in Alicia and Christina. This is not even to mention the voting confessional of the JML choice himself, where the seeds are planted for Troy to cast his vote, in the end, one last time for that amazing player that he respects so much.

Troy seems a reasonable choice as protagonist, but the thing I think you have forgotten is that in recent years, the protagonist has just as much a chance of being set up for a certain six-figure prize as he does the seven-figure.

Martha said...

Your analysis is interesting, though confusing. You obviously are putting Troy in the "game is a reflection of reality" category, though you actually say he is in the "former" category along with Chelsea.

If, in fact, we are to base our analysis on the limited things presented by the editors, then why would you give Kim credit for Michael's ouster? She was shown to have played Troy to achieve that result, but he was later shown to be very happy with it. In the same vein, why does she get sole credit for Jonus's ouster, when Jay suggested it? Kim has been shown all along to have been keeping her options open by having more than one alliance and keeping them secure enough to be able to choose between them. Troy seems to have fallen victim to his own opinion of other players' deserving to be in the game.

Rather than a serious reflection of societal expectations, the show seems to me to be instead a reflection of how many stupid people there really are. That is what television generally and reality television in particular seem to look for. That has been the case for a long time - look at the ridiculous television portrayals of fathers, from "Leave it to Beaver" to "The Cosby Show" to "South Park." Audiences seem to delight in the antics of the stupid but lovable father characters. Maybe a more appropriate discussion about "Survivor One World" would involve Kat's or Chelsea's characters, or why the editors would choose to glorify stupidity.

It is a television story, told for that particular audience, not a great work of philosophy or literature, nor even an accurate portrayal of any kind of reality.

Jayemel said...

"You know who,"

No, I don't know who you are, as you are posting anonymously, although I do think you should consider if you are the intended audience for this blog, especially this specific entry which was intended as a philosophical discussion of the thematic implications of this season's story.

In response to your points, I would say the following:

-Our analysis in the SurvivorSAC is thematic, not strategic. No one in our group has once contended that Kim isn't playing a strong game and that we don't respect her as a player. Our claim is that thematically she is being set up to lose, most likely in the jury vote.

-If we thought that Sabrina had a storyline, we would note it. Her role post-merge has been: 1. Part of Kim's supposed F3. 2. Critical of Troyzan. This is after she had little-to-no content post-switch. While she is a big character, we have asserted how we believe she fits into the story.

-Though I can't speak for the rest of SurvivorSAC on this issue, I don't personally speculate on who is being edited as fan favorite or how that plays into the overall story, mostly because I think it's largely irrelevant because there's no such correlation as you're claiming.

Finally, I'd also like to thank you for your psychoanalysis of myself (and my collaborators) across the internet. Your definition of arrogance, however, is as incorrect as the Celebrity Apprentice cologne executives saying "you earned it" in relation to "success" is pompous. And by "as incorrect as" I mean extremely incredibly incorrect. To be more explicit, there is no obligation for anyone to read anyone else's work. The work that earns attention is the work that should be read. In that light, I appreciate you taking the time to read and respond to our analysis, as you must find we've earned it!

Jayemel said...


Thank you for the correct. Troyzan is meant to be in the latter category. That was a typo none of us caught in the editing process!

As per our previous analysis this season, Kim was given credit for the Jonas, Michael, and Jay boots because she was "cutting off the head of the snake" (voting off the biggest threat). Jay was never shown as in control of the votes, whereas Kim was.

With Troy, yes, he did make a mistake in trusting the women, and that was the low in his story--when he was charmed by Kim into being angry over the story she fed him about Michael. That is why he is fighting everyone else and on his own. Those are the consequences to his actions. That he said Michael's boot was good for him (as well as Jonas') is a positive for his story.

I also disagree with a few of your premises:

-Survivor is not a show for, by, or about stupid people. It has always celebrated achievement and ability.

-Chelsea has never been portrayed as stupid. Rather, she has been conflicted over the game.

-Kat's stupidity has not been glorified, but mocked over and over again. She was called an embarrassment to women early on and has been turned into a big joke ever since.

-I don't think Troyzan is a "stupid but lovable" father figure. He has not done a single fatherly thing in the story. Likewise, I don't watch shows with such characters. It is the reason I avoid Modern Family. On the other hand, I am a huge fan of South Park and think you are missing the point of Randy Marsh and Gerald Broflovski. If you want a show with an intelligent and celebrated father figure, check out Last Man Standing on ABC. It is not the deepest of shows, but it is positive and fun.

-A reflection of reality is not meant to be an accurate portrayal of reality. To quote Docor House: "As opposed to shows that represent the world exactly the way it is, like...can't think of any. Good thing because they would suck. And be redundant. "

Martha said...

My point exactly...

Your thematic premise assumes a level of complexity that, of necessity, has different aims than that of a viewer/advertiser-driven television story.

Seems your argument is self-contradictory and makes assumptions about things happening that are not shown.

Jayemel said...


One of our base premises in The SurvivorSAC is that the editors/producers of Survivor are extremely talented and are crafting a story with great intent. I strongly believe the product demonstrates the truth of that premises. Nothing I have said here contradicts this premise.

If you'd like to have a discussion of art as a reflection/selection of reality, please find me on Facebook.

Anonymous said...

With Tarzan cross dressing and applying mascara-like make up, along with Tarzan siding with the women consistently in the votes, its apparent that Tarzan is effectively a women in this game. When considering an all women's final 3, count Tarzan in the mix.

Olly said...

SM, go fuck yourself.

dominic.harvey said...

Interesting thoughts, as always. A few comments:

- Troyzan's frustration is not justified, because he got exactly what he wanted. As you mentioned yourself, he told us in the merge episode that 'it's Troyzan versus 11 people, this is what I wanted' (paraphrasing); and, now that he has that, he's complaining about it. He's reacting in exactly the same way he and others accused the women of acting in the first few episodes: complacent until the going gets tough, at which point they fold.

- Chelsea didn't say 'it's just a game', she said 'it's just THE game'. This isn't a mere semantic point: saying 'it's just a game' trivializes the situation, whereas 'it's just the game' provides the necessary context for evaluating what is being said/done. 'The game' is Survivor; and, as Troyzan reminded us a few episodes ago, 'it ain't Survivor unless you're lying'. Troyzan has no grounds for complaining about the Jonas boot given that he went along with it.

- Not that it matters, because Chelsea didn't actually say it, but can you provide evidence that 'it's just a game' was epitomized by Sash/Albert/Chase?

- It's possible to fight for what you want without alienating people around you and without sacrificing your rationality, which is what Troyzan fails to realize. 'I'm acting within my personality' isn't a real defence; it's a copout; Ted Bundy was acting within his personality. What matters is the content of your personality; if your personality is such that you should want to act in accordance with it, then you have justification for doing so without reference to your personality; and if it isn't, the fact that it is your personality does nothing to salvage it.

- I'd argue that the theme of the episode was presented by Probst in the recap when he asked 'can Troyzan find his way back in?, and again at the end of TC when he said '[Troyzan and Tarzan], you have two options: win immunity or find your way back in'. Troyzan showed this episode that he can win immunity, but his own personality flaws are preventing him from finding a way back in. By itself this might not be too bad, but the episode took a clear position: finding your way in is superior.

On a personal level, I'm surprised by your interactions with Troyzan. Let's take retweeting his praise of this blog, for instance, which suggests you feel that his validation is important. Either:
a) you are right, and he is spoiling you (and everyone who sees his reaction); or b) he likes it because you talk positively about him, which of course he is going to enjoy, without critical analysis of the content on his part. Are either of these outcomes desirable? The possibility of option c) (he has the self-awareness to be objective about the content) is contradicted by everything we've seen of him throughout the show. Similarly with you linking him to responses to critiques of Ayn Rand, or telling him that you want to discuss the story of the season after the show, as if he even has a grasp of basic storytelling. I sincerely hope you get what you want and should want from your discussions with him, but from what I've seen from him I doubt you will.

Troyzan's Monkey said...

So Troyzan's out. The theme of going after the liars seemed off since the early episode when he claimed "It's not Survivor if you ain't lying." Perhaps the theme of lying may come in during his jury vote?

So what's the group's consensus pick for winner now? Are you still claiming Kim is going to lose? If so, who wins?

Jayemel said...

Troyzan's Monkey,

The theme was never "going after the liars."