According to the ever trusty Nielsen polls that use some kind of hocus pocus to generalize and figure out ratings, a little more than 8.5 million folks watched Survivor this week. Did literally one person in that 8.5 million not cringe when Paul told Jessica he would let her know before he f’ed her over?
Let’s be honest, clearly everyone – and I do think everyone – should have pushed for CeCe’s removal because of her consistently horrid challenge performances, but right when Paul answered Jessica’s question in that exact manner — we all knew it was over for him. Just like when Eddie and Alex first canned poor Davey pack in 1985, the Gen X’ers were clearly ditching Paul. And unlike Davey, Paul isn’t returning for some horrid money-grabbing episodes later on down the line.
Does anyone else feel proud of me for continuing that analogy for a whole paragraph? Man, that was fun. And I didn’t even have to mention Gary Cherone, the sadly never remembered member of Van Halen who’s also in that really dated video with Nuno.
But we’re not here to reminisce about '80s hair metal, right? You’ve all come to talk theory and that’s what we’re going to do.
While watching Paul’s really bad performance, I couldn’t help but think of framing theory. A popular theory (or not a theory and just a concept, depending on who you ask) in the social sciences, framing is used a whole lot in my particular field: journalism studies.
The general idea behind framing is that when communicating messages, the sender makes certain bits of information more salient for the receiver. The concept describes how people make sense of information. Sociologist Erving Goffman was one of the first scholars to discuss framing, and he argued that frames provide a specific focus. When I think of framing research, I always go back to George Washington University professor Robert Entman, who defined it as a process of making “aspects of a perceived reality more salient in a communicating text, in such a way as to promote a particular problem definition.”
To put this more simply, when journalists, for example, report on a story, they pick and choose the information they think most important and attempt to make that content more salient for the receivers. Basically, there are a whole lot of ways to communicate honest, accurate information and the way we choose to do so is the way we’re framing the conversation, the information.
Paul enjoyed a lot of options when Jessica asked him about a potential men’s alliance. Simply saying, “We’ve never talked about that” would have been honest and open. He’d probably still be in the game if he said that. If Paul framed the conversation and his answer as something he would never do, he’d still be in the game.
But Paul’s fatal mistake involved saying too much and talking about how if that happened, he would tell Jessica first. When Jessica left that conversation, the only thing that mattered to her was that Paul implicitly admitted he’s closer with the guys. That’s the info Paul made salient in his conversation. He framed the message in a certain way and totally affected how Jessica received it.
So much in the game of Survivor is about framing. How Jeff asks questions at tribal is another good example. He’ll ask seemingly innocuous questions where he’s trying oh so hard to make some subtext salient and therefore hoping it creates friction or elicits a great response. Or how about how Michele framed ditching Mari to Will last week? Brilliant. What castaways say to other castaways and, more importantly, how they say it is so important in the game. That’s all framing, sort of, and Paul did a horrible job of it. And now he’s home listening to Panama.
But while Paul’s home due to bad framing, we still have some housekeeping to do. Here are my thoughts on those remaining in the game:
Gen X — Takali
Millennials — Vanua
OK, so with that, let’s call it a column. I mean, the Red Sox start soon, so this needs to end.
Pat Ferrucci started watching Survivor when episode two of Borneo first aired. He's seen every episode since. Besides recapping here, he'll be live-tweeting this season from the Mountain Time Zone. Why? Because nobody cares about the Mountain Time Zone except when they want to ski. Follow him @patferrucci for Survivor stuff and tweets about anything and everything that enters his feeble mind.