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Parading the race card

By Stephen Hagan - posted Thursday, 9 November 2006

Just when you think it’s safe to relax and put your weary feet up to watch a bit of reality TV, devoid of any stresses of racially offensive imagery, along comes Survivor - Cook Island (Channel 9), with the well-publicised episodes designed entirely around race.

If ever I saw a show that could give credence to Social Darwinism “survival of the fittest” racist doctrine, then this one fits the bill to a T. Wikipedia describes the term “survival of the fittest” as a phrase which is shorthand for a concept relating the competition for survival or predominance.

Originally applied by Herbert Spencer in his Principles of Biology of 1864, Spencer drew parallels between his ideas of economics and Charles Darwin’s theories of evolution, by what Darwin termed natural selection.


Now take the following quote made by the world’s most recognisable and marketable face on the planet: Tiger Woods.

"Hockey is a sport for white men. Basketball is a sport for black men. Golf is a sport for white men dressed like black pimps."

Tiger’s colourful, witty quote, which only a man of his worldly stature could get away with, got me thinking about the concept of pitting race against race to come up with the ultimate winner.

Natural selection - perhaps not!

Seeing that Tiger is currently the undisputed ruler of the roost in the once exclusive sporting domain of the white man, does that mean he has predominance over all white golfers - natural selection - or is he just an exception to the rule. Well if he is an exception to the rule am I to believe that Vejay Singh (Fiji Indian) and Michael Campbell (New Zealand Maori), collectively multiple winners of golfing Majors, are also different.

Or perhaps these elite wealthy black golfers have rebutted the aged old myth: “Only whites have the intelligence and patience to master the game with the little white ball”, once and for all.


Natural selection of a coloured variety - hmm … possibly.

So why do TV executives feel it necessary to go down the path of parading the race card to sell a show? If they can’t forecast or influence the outcome - of a multiple series of one-hour shows - why would they want to risk their hard earned reputation, in that competitive industry, in pursuit of the all-mighty US dollar?

More on that later.

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About the Author

Stephen Hagan is Editor of the National Indigenous Times, award winning author, film maker and 2006 NAIDOC Person of the Year.

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