Had Jeff Probst stuck to the Survivor script of outlining the rules for fire-starting contests and overseeing tribal counsels, he probably would have gone down as one of reality TV's more likable and competent hosts. But then the series took a forty-five-degree turn into eugenics territory, and made the even arguably dumber decision to allow Probst to defend the format to the media. What followed were a series of startling statements that revealed the host to be somewhat of a numbskull, such as the epiphany he recently shared with the Washington Post that not all Asians are exactly the same:
"When you start talking to a person from Asia, you realize — Wow! They have all different backgrounds!" gushed Probst, who described himself repeatedly as a 44-year-old white guy from Wichita. [...]
The other day, he told the reporters, he went to his dentist, who is white, and the dentist brought in another dentist, who is Asian. "And I found myself saying to the Asian doctor, 'Where in Asia is your family from?' " The dentist said he was Korean. "The only reason I had the courage to even ask that question or the knowledge to ask that question was I'd just spent 39 days with people from Korea," Probst said.
Yes, he really did.
Asians, he explained, include Chinese and Japanese and Koreans and "they don't necessarily get along," adding, "This is stuff maybe I should know."
Probst's shockingly ignorant remarks (seriously—the guy lives in LA. Shouldn't he at least know his egg rolls from his hand rolls?) serve as a striking reminder that reality TV show hosts are not hired for their knowledge of geography and culture, but because they look and sound good on camera. Still, considering the Pandora's Box they're opening with this season's four-way race war, you'd think Survivor's producers would have at least briefed their star on the basics before he had a chance to question members of the Hispanic Tribe about the weather in Hispania.
- 'Survivor' Host's Geoethnic Studies, From Soup to Mutts [WashingtonPost.com]