We are taking a day’s break from our “Survivor: San Juan del Sur” spotlight series, mostly for the simple reason that we want to talk about the casting of John Rocker before actually discussing him as a player.
Let’s face it: We understand why people would be annoyed with his casting, thanks to his on-field reputation, and some comments he made to Sports Illustrated many years ago that including offensive language towards immigrants, members of the LGBT community, and pretty much everyone else who live in New York City. This is a guy who already has a villain edit before even going on the show!
Well, if you don’t like the idea of the former baseball star on the show, Jeff Probst does not exactly agree with you. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly on the subject of the casting, he explains that the reason he was interested about having the guy on the show was to see him respond to the situations around him:
“I find John Rocker a perfect fit for this show because of all the baggage he brings in … Not only was he a big time baseball player who people assume made a lot of money and had fame. But he’s also made some very controversial, polarizing comments about how he views the world. That is in its core, when you take away all the strategy and all the challenges — that is what Survivor is about. It is a microcosm. It is a social experiment. You take a group of people from all over the country, different walks of life, and you force them to work together to take care of each other and get rid of each other. So the easy answer is, if the group of people with Rocker know who Rocker is, or just don’t like him as a guy, don’t even know who he is, they vote him out. That’s the game. Or if someone else with more power says ‘I don’t like him and I want to take him to the end because I can beat him,’ then he’ll go to the end. The rules are made by the players.”
Probst insists that casting Rocker does not mean that either he or anyone else agree with his viewpoints, but that he likes him being on the show because he has “massive obstacles to overcome.” We don’t really agree with this assessment per se, given that you could always cast another baseball star without these comments, and with the same issues to overcome. If every player knew about what Rocker’s past was before entering the game, maybe it’d be different. Instead, they have to be in the game with him, and maybe find out after the fact.
We’re going to try during the season to just analyze John for the game he plays here, and not everything he’s done leading up to it. For the time being, though, we have to question why CBS wanted to put themselves in a position where people were dwelling on a guy’s baggage in the first place.
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