You know when people always say that the Hunger Games is unrealistic, and our world would never become like that? A fascination with the morbid, and people deriving pleasure from watching other people suffer? Well, think again. Shows like Survivor and Amazing Race [to a lesser extent] always trivialized what it was putting its contestants through. The line was always drawn because all those people were ‘volunteers’, fighting for a chance to win fame and fortune if they put themselves through enough humiliating and sometimes life-threatening courses. Unfortunately, some of those people pay a higher price than they bargained for. It was reported today that on the French version of ‘The Survivor’, Koh-Lanta, a contestant died during the first day of filming.
The details are not clear, but all we know is that the victim, Gerard Babin, 25, suffered a cardiac arrest during a game of tug-of-war. The show claims that everyone underwent medical testing, but we don’t know the details behind what caused it. Apparently, Babin was complaining of cramps on the set and while he was being transported to a hospital via helicopter, he suffered ‘a series of cardiac arrests’.
A spokesperson for channel TF1 told THR [via Fox News], “It is not really a question” about whether to cancel the season. Everyone is being flown back to France.”
At least they know where to draw the line. And to be fair, we don’t know what caused his cardiac arrests. But how long will this be on the news today? A minute? An hour? And none of the other countries’ versions of ‘Survivor’ are cancelling their versions of the show, are they? You may think I’m being unnecessarily harsh. But this is how people become immune and desensitized to the innate violence of these shows. We watch it for fiction all the time, so who’s to say that watching it in real life won’t be the next step?
It was the right decision to make on TF1’s part, but really, they should reevaluate their medical screening conditions. Obviously, it looks like Babin had a pre-existing medical condition, but it’s the show’s job to prevent life-threatening injuries. Although we’ll know more about what caused his cardiac arrest in the next few days, reality shows that focus on strenuous physical activities need to understand that they are broadcasting the show to millions of people and they need to be wary about the message they’re sending about what is an acceptable sacrifice to win the show.