Readings & Musings

Survivor’s Most Troubling, Yet Beautiful Moment Ever

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Still processing what happened on Survivor this past Wednesday. What happened transcended the game, and one castaway crossed a line that couldn’t be un-crossed, doing something awful that had nothing to do with gameplay: he outed someone as transgender that wasn’t wanting or asking to be outed. Sometimes Survivor brings out the worst in people, albeit usually within the confines of gameplay with the result of being entertaining TV for those watching (case in point: Johnny Fairplay’s lie about a dead grandma who wasn’t really dead! It was wickedly epic.). This was something different altogether. But then, as we see in the other tribemates’ reactions and Zeke’s courage and grace under unthinkable circumstances, Survivor brings out the best in people too. The Tribal Council was upsetting, repulsive, and moving all at once. There’s much to learn here about how such an act can hurt someone (and in some cases put them in physical danger or worse). Just as there are plenty of moral dilemmas that arise on whether CBS should have aired this in the first place. But I think they made the right choice—this is a real thing that happened, and it has consequences for real people. Props to Probst for handling this how he did and being an ally for Zeke. You can read Zeke’s powerful essay to get his perspective and learn how growing up watching Survivor, and now playing Survivor, has impacted his life for the better…and hopefully continues to do so!

Zeke in his own words:…/survivor-zeke-smith-oute…

Wednesday night’s Tribal Council:

Resource for being a better ally of transgender people:



Dear Mindy Kaling, Let’s be BFFs

I was recently just telling a friend about the time when I was in sixth grade and my class went on an awesome overnight field trip to SeaWorld, where we got to have a sleepover in the Shark Encounter exhibit. Yes, be jealous. There was a large room where most of the class slept, sans chaperones or teachers nearby, but before we went to bed the SeaWorld staff said that a few of us could sleep in the glass tunnel of the actual aquarium – meaning just a few inches of glass would separate us from these so-called human killing machines as they lurked all around us in the dark. I was so in. How could you not take such an awesome opportunity? What I didn’t realize at the time was that such a decision meant that I would forgo the first ever (and last) opportunity I would have to play spin the bottle, as all the “cool” kids chose to do while a handful of us actual cool kids slept in a glass tunnel. With sharks. Basically, this moment pretty much encapsulates my entire life, at least my life into my early twenties, of my interaction-with-boys to moments-of-nerdiness (but actually awesomeness) ratio. Long story short, it’s this kind of story that makes me think that writer/director/actress/just-all-around-cool-person Mindy Kaling and I could easily be best friends. I finally got around to reading her funny collection of essays in the book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) and I can totally relate. Firstly, the title alone sums up fears that I am so not as cool as I think. Also, I love funny women that are straight-laced and nerdy, and therefore non-druggies, yet you can tell they would be so much fun to hang out with. That is, if you love talking about classic SNL moments (which I do) and awkward childhood memories that never involved sports and boys – because those two things were never your forte – but did incorporate the fact that you went to drama, band, and yearbook camp (that last one does in fact exist). I love Mindy’s unabashed love for romantic comedies, even though she knows how trite they can sometimes be.  And I absolutely love that we share the same comedy hero – Conan O’Brien – of whom she has had the good fortune of interning at his Late Night show. I love a lot of other things about her and the book, but really you should just go read the book for yourself, especially if you’re a fan of The Office and the amazing Kelly Kapoor.