What would Baudrillard say of Survivor? Clearly, the show embodies in a grotesque fashion the great American dictum "Win friends and influence people." At the same time, it masks and normalizes the fact that this is already a surveillance society, a place where surrendering anonymity brings rewards.
You can see this tradeoff in action everywhere, but perhaps most vividly in another innovative product from CBS: iWon.com, a portal and search engine that entices users by entering them in a lottery. Ten thousand dollars is given away each day, $1 million per month, and $10 million at year’s end. But entry to this lottery is only nominally free. One has to fill out an identity questionnaire to play. So losing your anonymity is the price of admission.
Of course, CBS plans to use those names to recoup its $100 million investment. That means laser-precise marketing to every site visitor. The fine print on iWon reads, "The individually identifiable information that you provide will be used extensively within iWon to provide a personalized experience to you . . . It will also be shared with iWon’s partners . . ." Considering the size and scope of CBS, its "partners" are just about every corporation in America. Welcome to the realsurvivor show.