And so begins my long overdue thoughts on Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains. It’s a shame we have to start on such a sour note.
A few weeks ago my mom and I were talking about the Tiger Woods scandal (it was what she came up with after brainstorming topics for dinner conversation) and she asked me if there was some one in the public eye, a role model perhaps, that would really break my heart if they were exposed to be in some kind of scandal or lascivious activity. I told her that as I’ve become an adult I’ve learned to let go of such things, that as a 26 year-old you can’t put another person, especially a public persona, on such a pedestal. She suggested that we should hold these people to a higher moral standard, but I argued just the opposite, that with celebrities – actors, musicians, athletes, politicians – we should expect less adherence to a moral code. These are people who are told they are great, they are special, and thus think they are exempt from common behavior, that they are above the law, both legally and morally. Now there are, of course, exceptions, but too often their celebrity status goes to their heads, and they think the rules don’t apply to them. And the bigger they are, the harder they fall, and the less we should be surprised when they do. Sad but true. So to answer my mother’s question, there was no one I could think of whom I believed in so deeply that any discovery of indiscretion would be utterly soul crushing (unless it was revealed that Tom Hanks has cheated on Rita Wilson with a harem of Golden Corral buffet attendants, but I can think of almost nothing less likely).
However, a couple nights later I sat down to dig into the premiere of Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains and I realized that I was mistaken. There remained at least one person I felt that strongly about, whom I believed to be nearly infallible, with whom I couldn’t fault and would be shocked to learn of one. And that man is former Brooklyn firefighter Tom Westman. Yes, as a fellow Long Islander I’m biased. But the way he so thoroughly dominated Survivor: Palau is really unparalleled in the show’s history, and he did so by a mixture of uncanny physical prowess and the utmost integrity. In my eyes he played a flawless game, and perhaps became the last role model standing.