Guest post- Dogwhistling Dixie: the Michaela Bradshaw story

Some people blow whistles that a select few can hear. Technology is helping us bring those frequencies to light.

For 34 seasons, Survivor has repeatedly been called a social experiment. Today, we focus our lens on the experiences of one participant in this social experiment, Michaela Bradshaw.

On Day 3 of Survivor:Game Changers, a majority comes together

the face of power

to vote out the “weakest threat,” which they decide is Ciera. They tell Ciera that they are all voting for Michaela because she’s “confrontational” and “kind of the outcast.”

Michaela asks who Ciera thinks everyone is voting for.


And the cop shoots the black person.


Nah, but they really do tell her she’s the decoy without any explanation.


Michaela doesn’t like that and storms off.


Oops, let me try that again… and storms off!


Aubry, who’s known for being a compassionate player, checks in on Michaela.


Michaela is upset about seeing her name written down in a game where you don’t want your name written down. It’s pure insolence for Michaela to not completely trust these people she just met two days ago. She’s lucky they even told her who to vote for despite not giving any input into the decision!

Aubry is sympathetic, but Michaela ungratefully accepts Aubry’s offer, “Yeah, I think it needs to change to someone else.” #rude


[Pictured: Hot streaking]


Michaela prepares to hot streak, scouting out the territory.


But Michaela is hottest of them all, so this frightens Aubry.


Her hot streak will literally burn the whole place down.

Michaela looking pale after hot streaking

Tony and Caleb are shook.



Let’s check in on that blow up.


Her hotness is uncontainable.


Damn, wrong gif again. I meant…


Look at the “scary” way she interacts with people.



Sorry, THIS is how Michaela interacts with people…


It’s so scary, it’s as if somebody ignited her the wrong way,


and the whole place is burning down.


Wait, did Aubry write the wrong name again? Why didn’t she cross it out like last time?

Anyway, obviously the takeaway here is that Michaela should know her place and stop asking questions.


Fast forward to Day 12 of the game. Michaela’s tribe won a reward of coffee and sugar, and one of her tribemates loooooves him some coffee and sugar.



JT loves consuming coffee and sugar so much that when the supply starts running out, he leads a witch hunt against…those who were consuming it.

who, oh who, could it be


Michaela doesn’t like coffee, so she never drank any of it. But on this day, she wants to try it. She asks Aubry and JT, “Is there enough for me to get leftovers?”

entitlement, amirite


She then instructs Aubry, “Put seven drops of coffee and a scoop of sugar in it.”


Aubry must be cocking her head and pitching her voice that way because she recognizes that order as a Cuban coffee! These women are so cultured!


Hang on, did the camera just zoom in on Aubry’s face with the word “Ignorance” under it? No comprendo.



Let’s not get gross, Aubry. There’s only one God.



Anyway, Sandra notices JT’s hot streak reasonable concern with Michaela, so she


ignites it, killing off the sugar. As one does with a reasonable concern.

JT immediately notices the sugar’s gone (Editor’s note: heh) and announces that he knows who’s been eating it (Editor’s note: heh).


Oh oh, I know this one! Is it…


JT? It’s JT!


Oh. Wow, we identified a suspect so quickly! Did she match a description? 🤔

This is a pretty egregious crime, so JT and Aubry have weapons ready just in case the situation escalates.

JT says, “I was wondering how (the sugar) was disappearing so fast.”


He insists he doesn’t eat sugar, but that “somebody” does…and then the “Fijian gods” zoom in on his face…drinking sugary coconut water!


Aha! He must sweeten his coffee with coconut water! Is it a family recipe?


Cool, I’ll try it out.

JT shows concern for Michaela’s well-being. “Michaela’s starting to kind of lose her bearings out here. She’s a little out there already. Unstable.”


No reaction to a a fall like that? Sociopath.

JT continues, “Yesterday the challenge was a little bit hard for me to handle.” The fall did look rough, and he also probably felt horrible losing their lead.


“You know, no one wants to babysit out here when we’re trying to survive.”

wasting everybody’s time


“I can offer a hell of a lot more than Michaela can.”



He talks about what camp life would be like after their upcoming tribal council. “Gonna be a lot less babysitting.”

rock a bye baaaby


“A lot less bitterness.”


“A lot less bad energy.”



“A lot less crybaby.”



“I can’t think of not one reason why anyone would want to keep Michaela in this game versus running with me.”



And the thing is, there are no acceptable excuses here. We see how Michaela treats JT time and time and time again…



He’s telling her all the ways that she is awful, and she never even thanks him! It must be so wearing on JT to give so much constructive feedback to someone so ungrateful. And those eyes; those aggressive, murderous eyes.

She obviously stokes his fire and spreads bitterness at camp.



When taking a critical look at who should be voted out next, Aubry offers wise words: “[Michaela] is an intelligent, independent female,”

This chicken is female. Tai is spewing feed to her.


“but I mean, it’s clear from this tribal that we have a quality of life issue going on here.”


“For J.T., we came into his camp. He’s done his job. He’s been a part of us.”


Whereas Michaela, well, I don’t know if you heard, but she ate all of JT’s camp sugar and LICKED the jar CLEAN. What a yokel.



JT has a real eye for detail and brings levity to this onerous game. Right, Aubry?


Aubry? Aubry…uh…


Look, don’t worry. All your allies — Tony, Malcolm, JT — they’ll be handed plenty of coffee, sugar, immunity, and dignity in real life.


As JT pointed out, Michaela still has a lot to learn (kid).

The merge is upon us, and per Survivor tradition, it is inaugurated by a feast. The timing is wonderful as it comes right on the heels of a grave loss suffered by Sierra, Aubry, and Brad.



They didn’t win pizza in a game where pizza represents your life.

In a blatant show of disrespect for their grief, Michaela refuses to lean into starvation and misery,

Just how black is her heart?


instead resorting to violence.



Is eating a coconut really worth rebuffing your tribemates? Wouldn’t you rather sink to their depths?



It is decreed that people are allowed to enjoy the merge feast.



Obv Michaela still manages to do it wrong.



Sierra really embraces the role of model for Michaela here. Let’s back that up real quick and slow it down so we can really appreciate it.



A mere three days after this feast, Sierra doesn’t win a reward of burgers.

Every time she loses a reward, she sinks to a dark place.


In her darkness she enlightens those who need it. Break it down for us, girl.


Sierra’s burger sacrifice reminds us that the best Survivor seasons are the ones in which players are uncomfortable and complain all the time.



The majority alliance has been doing the Lord’s work enforcing despair this season. They are made up of five people who possess all three idols and both advantages that are live in the game.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the new face of power.


Let’s address the elephant in the room: Tai.

There’s one very obvious quality that separates him from the rest of this bunch………he does not throw shade, and I am not referring to his physique.

Sierra gets busy spilling the tea at the merge.


Sierra laughs it up with people, chit chatting, but always, always keeps an eye out because… “she’s a little shifty.”



No, silly, Sierra’s not shifty! Her primary target is.

“She’s tough to be around.”



“She’s a loose cannon.”



“She will sneak up on every conversation.”


“Creeping around a bush…”


“She will not let anybody talk.”



“She’s also very blunt and doesn’t have a lot of tact.”


You don’t have to read any tea leaves to figure this one out. Sierra clarifies exactly who she is ‘gunning’ for…


when she identifies herself as law enforcement.

Bingo! Michaela Bradshaw.


Brad is “so sick of Michaela.”


Debbie says, “She’s highly annoying, and just has a bad attitude.”



It’s easy to see why Brad “can’t stand her.”

WAY too much standing


She can’t, for the life of her, fit in.



It’s a huuuuuuge social faux pas to eat coconut at camp.

Brad Culpepper, not eating


You’re ONLY supposed to eat at SANCTIONED events like REWARDS,

Piling it on


which she never wins


because she does everything wrong.

[Pictured: Michaela never being just right.]

Not doing enough


Doing too much


Not enough


Too much


Not enough


Too much


No wonder Sierra says, “I’m constantly on edge with Michaela around…if one thing sets Michaela off, then we’re all going down…”



which is exactly why all the *smart* people come in to Survivor guns blazing. You have to be quick to the draw with certain types of people.

As per usual, Michaela does get set off. She’s so overly sensitive!



She hits up Cirie.



Cirie tolerates this conversation because it turns out that they have something unique in common! They’re both……women! Not only that, but each is a…….person. Cirie is just an older version. I’m glad Cirie is here to point out these little details that we might have missed.


Remember Sandra? She also supported Michaela and had friendly, honest conversation with her, which is weird because she had absolutely nothing in common with Michaela or Cirie. See, look:

I don’t see tribe color. I just see……a person.



The important thing to remember here is that Survivor is a numbers game. But Cirie and Sandra are only two…people (who SUCK at challenges, by the way! Nevermind that Cirie was undefeated in the pre-merge.) Many others have complained about Michaela. The words speak for themselves. I mean, the numbers, the numbers speak for themselves.

Cirie unleashes some black magic upon Michaela.


She warns Michaela that she stands out to “them.” You know,



the people in power.


Cirie tells her to be more “regular.” Like you know when people just need to blend makeup into their skin better so that there are no streaks or separation of colors?

‘lighten up’


Hey, whoa, hey, laughter is for sanctioned events only! Get un-happy and start being regular!

It’s this irregular behavior that makes Sierra concerned for everyone’s safety. “We keep Michaela in this game, and she’s gonna come back and wreak havoc. It’s gonna be awful.”

Sure enough, immediately after tribal council, after keeping Michaela in the game,


Michaela rubs it in everyone’s faces how peacefully she’s able to rest in such a tough environment, wreaking havoc in the minds and spirits of all.

Ooooeeeee the bedlam this causes!


Is this Aubry, HOT STREAKING?? Look what being around Michaela has done to her!

Surely people aren’t condemning COCK on SURVIVOR?!!

Rubbing your forehead is a known technique for instigating civilized, tranquil women.

Survivor producers cleeeeeearly aren’t showing us what Michaela is REALLY like at camp. To this end, we found footage that was edited out of this episode just to make Michaela look good.

WARNING: the following content contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and some bitches. Viewer discretion is advised.


See that? This is the menace, the scourge upon society who’s running loose out there. I just hope the big cocks grasp the danger and do a bit more policing.



Because if they just let this kind of behavior go unchecked, this is what you get.

They 👏🏾 Clap👏🏾 Back


Queens stay queens. ¡Adiós!



Shirin played Survivor a couple times. She is known for having many names.

Favorite seasons: Pearl Islands, Heroes vs. Villains, Cagayan

Latest posts by Shirin (see all)

  • Mike Hirsch

    This post, and its many, many, many gifs, further reinforce my opinion that Michaela should play on all the seasons of Survivor. I mean, I’m sure her appeal might start to wear off a little around her twelfth season, but I would love it anyway.

    Also, Debbie is the worst.

    • Roswulf

      This is an important point. I would also be down for Michaela as a perma-juror/ Jeff Probst sidekick after her twelfth season.

      • Mike Hirsch

        If Michaela must be on the jury this season, please let her bring more props.

        • Figaro

          I would die if Michaela had jury props!

  • TheForRealDeal

    Boy, you guys are really leaning into this anti-Christian, bigoted and skewed thing.

    Keep it up!

    • Taako From Teevhii

      *ahem* We’re dishonest, anti-Christian, bigoted, and skewed, thankyouverymuch

      • TheForRealDeal

        Thank you for being honest.

  • Kemper Boyd

    The editors have done us a true service by showing these people villainise Michaela then showing her being completely benign.

    • Super duper fan

      I said it before, but I do think that they try to paint Michaela as a hero against them, by trying to show that THEY’RE being unfair.

      • Max_Jets

        This is why I think a Michaela win is more likely than some of these other sheriffs.

        • Maritimer

          I’m still concerned its the story of why Michaela lost and the answer is racism

          • Max_Jets

            I wouldn’t be surprised. I still think we might see people’s opinions on her change as they get to know her, but I might be too hopeful.

          • Maritimer

            People’s opinion changing and her winning is my second most hoped for outcome (after a Cirie win) but I remain pessimistic

        • Ms. Sweaterfan

          I am dying for a Michaela win (I would also be happy if she got 2nd place to Cirie) but I’m perplexed by the edit. I definitely see that the editors are going out of their way to show us that all the complaining about Michaela is unfounded, but to what end?? Is it just the editors throwing shade at the subtle racism of Survivor after all these years? Or will their be some sort of actual comeuppance?

          • Taako From Teevhii

            It’s possible that Sierra ends up having to beg Michaela for a spot in F3 or F4. That’d be fitting, I think.

          • Ms. Sweaterfan

            Ooh I like that

        • Assistant Dragon Slayer

          If something like an Andrea/Zeke war and/or an idol shoot-out keeps the target off Michaela for a few more votes, I can definitely see Michaela pulling off a Mike Holloway style run to the end (hopefully with people who have plenty of blood on their hands).

          • Super duper fan

            I conince myself more and more that Michaela may actually win this, when I think of possible winners (and it would be great, cause we would have another satisfactory female winner for a legendary winners’ season).

        • UseYourCommonSense

          You’re crazy if you think Michaela is winning…let’s not start with the wishful thinking.

          • Agreed. As much as I like Michaela, she has absurdly long odds at a win. Plus, this season has given me no reason to have hope for an enjoyable outcome.

          • Eric

            agreed. She is my most desired winner (or maybe second to cirie) but think she is probably in 9th place out of 10 as far as likely winners.

          • Diego Armando

            I would likely Zero Percent her. I love her and hope she does well, but have a hard time thinking of anyone she could beat in the finale.

          • Max_Jets


  • Ms. Sweaterfan

    I loved this post!
    I know it’s probably a long shot at this point, but I just really want Cirie and Michaela to make it to the end together to show how two ………. women can succeed, even if they have to act ‘regular’ all the way to the top 😐

  • Max_Jets

    “She is known for having many names.” Perfect.

    • Super duper fan

      What it refers to exactly?

      • Max_Jets

        “Shanini or whatever her name is.”

        • Super duper fan

          Oh ok, thanks, I didn’t remember that.

  • Maritimer

    Once again, bravo to this site for addressing the social issues head on. This time the one the show is very weirdly dancing around even though its pretty goddamn apparent. A show that can address transgender issues with relative tact and decency should be able to do the same for racial issues

    • Max_Jets

      I think they’ve actually done a really good job with this. They didn’t have to show everything from Cirie and Michaela’s merge conversation and they didn’t have to undercut the other contestants’ thoughts on Michaela, but they did and it’s one of the few things about the season that I’ve really loved.

      • Maritimer

        Yeah, showing them being wrong about Michalea constantly is good. The merge conversation is where I felt they were dodging the issue, with them dancing around actually saying “African-American woman” but I can’t fault the show for that I guess without knowing if it was editing or actually the conversation Cirie and Michaela had

        • I think Cirie was just very aware of the cameras present, and didn’t want people (producers, viewers, other players that would see it later) to think she was “playing the race card”, so she spoke in terms that Michaela would understand but would leave her plausible deniability.

          In other words, she was dog whistling.

          • Maritimer

            Ah, that makes sense. If that is indeed the case, I retract my criticism of the show (no criticism was ever meant for Cirie or Michaela)

          • Eric

            yeah I think its safe to say that Cirie didn’t want the same “I DONT SEE COLOR” tweets and facebook messages that Michaela has gotten all season for acknowledging that they have more melanin than FFSDT (and co)

        • Ms. Sweaterfan

          I think Michaela finally said it in a confessional, but I definitely felt that Cirie was purposely dancing around the subject both in the conversation and in confessionals. I thought this might have been a generational difference, though, with Michaela being more comfortable actually putting everything out there while Cirie is from a generation that maybe has tried to combat racism subtly by just working that much harder and being that much classier and stronger in the face of adversity. I wouldn’t begrudge either one of them their personal style, but I do think that this has been an underlying theme of the season in some ways – things that are unspoken vs. things that are out in the open (Zeke is another obvious example). I don’t know that it will have any actual impact on how people place or who wins, but it’s a fascinating bit of social commentary that we don’t always get on Survivor.

          • Maritimer

            Not begrudging either of them personal style, I thought the show might be dancing around the issue which was my concern. It is indeed fascinating social commentary though

  • Alkanarra

    It’s from Debbie so, you know, obviously “grain of salt” the whole thing, but she posits an alternate, non-racist interpretation. (You can add “like me” to the end of all of those sentences to see what Debbie is actually trying to say, but food for thought nonetheless.)

    • Max_Jets

      I think Debbie has a point, but something else went over her head.

      • Alkanarra

        I don’t really have a dog in this race as I’m not comfortable determining whether or not someone else’s actions are or are not racially motivated, but I’m perfectly comfortable throwing “maybe sexism?” into the mix if only to stir the shit up.

        Also, nothing goes over Debbie’s head. Her reflexes are too fast. She would catch it.

        • Max_Jets

          “I’m not comfortable determining whether or not someone else’s actions are or are not racially motivated” I think that’s fair, and I’m not criticizing Debbie for not saying that it’s definitely racism. But when she calls out something as “perhaps” being sexist (floating the possibility, but not determining the answer), then there’s another elephant in the room.

        • Blurry Denzel

          I just realized that Debbie Wanner is the rightful successor to those old Chuck Norris jokes. She finally makes sense to me. Debbie Wanner doesn’t cheat death, she wins fair and square.

          • Alkanarra

            Chuck Norris is the rightful successor to the Chuck Norris jokes. But also I’m a little disappointed my Guardians of the Galaxy reference was missed. It’s only 2 days away, people! Gotta get hyped.

            Where’s Andy and SNP and Mike and those other comic book nerds when I need them the most?

          • Blurry Denzel

            Shit, I feel like an idiot for missing the reference. I’m very excited for Vol. 2 on Friday. I stand by the Debbie/Chuck Norris thing though. It’s the only way I can ever enjoy her.

          • Purple Rock Emma

            I understood that reference.

          • Alkanarra
          • Mike Hirsch

            Sorry, I was on my lunch break. I’m taking Friday off to see–whoa ho hey! Not see a movie, that’s for sure! Because I haven’t see one of those in 20 years! And I definitely did not get your reference, therefore.

          • Alycia Swift

            Now I’m picturing Debbie in that commercial where Chuck Norris kicks a salt or pepper shaker into an old man’s face breaking his nose (it had been thrown at him). He goes to his doctor with a broken nose and the doctor asks what happens and he says “I had lunch with Chuck Norris.” Substitute “I had lunch with Debbie Wanner.”

          • purplerockandy

            I got it, but was avoiding relaunching this post to avoid killing my computer and monitoring questions via the backend.

          • Violina23

            I got your reference!

            My nephew wants to see vol. 2 really badly. We just might volunteer to be a “good Aunt and Uncle” and take him

        • hardcöre umlaut

          It can be both. Black women are both black and women, and experience both sexism and racism, often times together.

    • Roswulf

      I think the short answer is intersectionality. The set of reactions to Michaela are shaped by her status as a young, strong African American woman.

      It’s always racism, and it’s always sexism!

      • Purple Rock Emma

        You might even say that it can be two things.

    • hardcöre umlaut

      But why do people perceive her to be a tough young lady? She can certainly get angry, and she does well in challenges, but is that it? When black women play sports, announcers use the words “strong,” “athletic,” “powerful,” etc. to describe them. Think about how people talk about the Williams sisters vs. Maria Sharapova. It’s not just because she’s a woman, it’s because she’s a BLACK woman.

      • prettyboyprobst

        Isn’t that enough though?
        You might have a point about black women in sports, but comparing the attributes given to Maria Sharapova and S.Williams(in particular) has to be about the worst example there is.

  • Blurry Denzel

    Great job by Shirin and a topic I’m glad is getting addressed.

    My parents told me from a young age to be on my best behavior because they are people out there waiting to pounce on me when I misstep, wanting me to fail. I didn’t understand the message at first and thought my parents were dealing with overprotective paranoia. Why would anyone just be out to get me? I didn’t consider the decades they’ve spent living as people of color. The message became clearer the more I grow in this world. Every thing I do gets magnified and it takes so much energy, so much active thinking just to get by sometimes without catching shit.

    Michaela also doesn’t get too much wiggle room. Every action of hers is magnified. People sometimes can’t relate, it just seems so different. Michaela isn’t perfect, she does have flaws, as does everyone. It makes us all so beautifully, uniquely human but Michaela doesn’t get the same benefit of the doubt for being human. I’m rooting for Michaela to continue to be the strong, intelligent woman she is. To put out all the energy it takes and turn it to something positive the way she does is amazing.

    Finally, I’m happy at the way the show has portrayed the story this season. It’s real and something I and many others can pinpoint as something that we have and continue to live through. Also, to anyone that insist that Michaela must be doing something to attract the discomfort or animosity among some of the others because makes no sense that this could be coming out of nowhere, unfortunately my perspective and from history it makes all the sense in the world.

    • Diego Armando

      Thank you for sharing this.

  • gouis

    God damn, yes ma’am!

  • Saturday Night Palsy

    Nice article! Now I just have a few questions for the author about Rodney…

    • No answer could win you back the fantasy points he lost for you.

      • Saturday Night Palsy

        Woah! IIRC Mark was in charge of that league!

        • Super duper fan

          Yeah,you’re right, I think it was Matt.

          • Saturday Night Palsy

            It can be one thing.

        • Sylvisual

          The only league I was in charge of was Kaoh Rong. Because I owned that.

          • PurpleTally

            Didn’t Noted Witch Barbara Anderson own that one?

          • Sylvisual

            At this point she doesn’t even count. For us mortals, my 6 people went the deepest, even if I didn’t win overall. GIMME A WIN, TALLY. 🙁

          • PurpleTally

            Look, I was not even really watching Survivor yet during KR, so this is between you and the witch.

          • Saturday Night Palsy

            Wouldn’t give it to Mike, not gonna give it to you. Besides, that’s the season I beat John in Champs. BEAT. HIM.

          • That doesn’t sound familiar.

          • He’s actually sorta right. I only had 5 unique players (Aubry, Michele, Tai, and Julia in Pick 4 and Julia and Joe in Outcasts), but they all went further than his Outcast League pick of Scot. But, he had 6 unique players that season that all made the merge.

          • Diego Armando

            I beat her in the Koah Rong Outcast League! She stomped me in every matchup since, but I still have that 1 win.

  • giorgos

    Congrats on the post Shirin, but I think we are getting too carried away with framing everyone we don’t like as racialy motivated against her. Race is definately a factor in every season that has 1 or 2 POC and 18 white people. But I think it’s just as evident every time a woman of color is an early boot than it is with Michaela and the “constant racial bias” against her every episode. Michaela is pretty much one of the 2 people that started this season on the outs and never had a grasp on the game. And because she’s pretty upfront with her feelings and won’t just sit in her corner like Aubry until someone finally works with her she becomes an easy target for everyone to pile on her whenever they want to blame someone or want an excuse to target her. Race is def a factor like Cirie siad without saying “people like us have to tread lightly” but there are a lot of people that got the “punching bag” of the cast treatment that were white over the years too.

    I’m not saying this isn’t an issue. It clearly is. It’s no accident that the 2 only seasons with more than 2 POC in the final 6 are the only two ones with a diverse cast. But it’s kind of irrespinsoble and wrong to attribute racism to Sierra or JT or whoever we don’t like on the flimsiest of evidence based on an edited show.

    • PurpleTally

      Yeah, JT’s never been involved in a vote where someone’s race may have possibly impacted her perception by a tribe…

      • PurpleTally

        (I know that’s an oversimplification of why Carolina was voted out, but you do have a parallel of Taj telling her to tone it down, much like Cirie did with Michaela.)

    • Ms. Sweaterfan

      I personally felt like the JT situation was full of racial dog whistles on his part (calling Michaela ignorant, doing an impression of her accent, etc.). I’m less certain of Sierra/Brad/Aubry/etc. but given the level of their annoyance as compared to the totally benign behavior we’ve been shown on Michaela’s part, I’m definitely willing to accept that there is something other than her demeanor that is affecting their opinions (however unconsciously).
      The part of the article that I’m struggling with the most is Aubry, but I think that’s just because I really like Aubry and I maybe don’t want to admit that she could be part of the problem.
      One thing that I was just thinking about is the fact that engaging in group think is often strategically beneficial in Survivor, which allows for a lot of these bad instincts to be insidiously fomented where they might otherwise be shut down. The sugar situation is a good example here. When JT started to get mad, someone – anyone! – could have said “hey, come on man she had one scoop of sugar, give it a rest” and that might have snapped him out of it, or at least shown him that his behavior was not acceptable. However, the smarter play in Survivor is often to help conflict along in the hopes that it will get the heat off of you and onto someone else. Aubry, finding herself toward the bottom of that tribe, had every reason to play into JT’s frustration, and seeing that everyone else on the tribe was also playing along, maybe it started to cement the idea that there really was a problem with Michaela. None of this is intended to make excuses for the racist behavior that manifests in Survivor. Instead, I guess I’m just pondering the ways that the game itself can unfortunately lead to and/or reward certain bad behavior.

      • The Aubry portion is the part I struggled with too for the same reasons you did.

        • Diego Armando

          I feel like it is hard to make a judgement on that point because we have seen so little of Aubry that I have no idea what their interactions were like.

    • DrVanNostrand

      Racism and sexism, and all the -isms in Survivor are a lot like global warming. Due to the selective editing and all the stuff we don’t see, it’s hard to pin individual events on them. However, as you said, we have a pretty large body of evidence that a strong undercurrent of bigotry exists.

      Michaela’s case is particularly interesting because the editors are actually choosing to show a strange inconsistency, almost sheepishly asking the question: “…racism?”

      • giorgos

        I completely agree that all the ‘isms exist in the game, and everyone who isn’t white (or even male) has a lot more to overcome or tiptoe around to play the game. But I really don’t think the editors trying to highlight the “inconsistency”. They definately touched on the race thing in the Cirie-Michaela chat mostly because Cirie presented it in such a subtle way, but that’s it. All the other stuff about Sierra saying Michaela is out of control and then we cut to Michaela not-out-of-control are buisness as usual for how the show build narratives and nothing more. For me it’s as simple as Sierra is the villain like there is one every season, and Michaela is her unassuming target/our bratty underdog. But Michaela is our bae and the people who don’t treat her well are the people we were rooting against before even the season started and even more so now because they are winning. If Michaela was a less awesome person, not hateful just a bland person on the outs and Sierra was at least a semi-respectable cocky power player, people wouldn’t read so much “…racism?” winks in the edit.

        Or maybe it was just the Cirie-Michaela convo that made everyone look for “clues” in the edit.

        • For me, Cirie’s conversation with Michaela was a tip off that Cirie sensed something. And I have no doubts that Cirie has experienced those same vibes many, many times in her life.

          I’m not saying Cirie thinks she’s surrounded by racists, but I think that- much like Blurry Denzel referenced above- she recognizes Michaela is being held to a different standard.

        • MsFjordstone

          White woman here, and even though I am Jewish (by birth, not by practice) and working in a traditionally male field (programming), I’ve luckily never had more than the slightest brushes with racism/creedism or sexism, and I didn’t need that Michaela-Cirie conversation to notice what was happening. It’s not because we like Michaela and can’t stand FFGCSDT. It’s pretty overt. I actually recoiled when FFGCSDT referred to her as “shifty” (I think she also said that of Zeke, *after* he was outed; talk about tone-deaf!). I’m really glad Shirin wrote this, and that PRP posted it: I noticed many of the things she pointed out, but missed some. It’s really clear that beyond routine gameplay, some of the cast are “othering” Michaela. Remember that with Sandra, we were shown that she emptied the sugar specifically to set people against one another (and she didn’t care who it was; as long as it was anyone but her). We weren’t shown a confessional of JT outlining a plan to scheme against Michaela as a gameplay thing, because I’d bet you a thousand bucks there wasn’t one. It was super uncomfortable to hear JT accusing Michaela of being criminal, gluttonous, self-centered, and lazy, just because it was like a racist subplot on a 1970s sitcom come to life. This goes beyond routine Survivor gameplay.

    • Assistant Dragon Slayer

      It can be two things. I don’t doubt Michaela lacks some of the social-game skills that take you a long way in Survivor, such as biting your tongue and letting foolishness slide, or buddying up with someone you have every intention of cutting later on. And she can definitely be a hot head, which has to be hard to live with and work with. But I also don’t doubt that the playing field is not level and very slippery for Michaela.

      • Alycia Swift

        One thing I do remember from prior to her earlier season was that in her interviews, she stated she did not like to be told what to do by anyone and that she knew better. That came through somewhat during her last time playing but she was with her peers – a lot of people around her own age or younger during the first part of the game. There were a lot of surfer types like Jay and Taylor or nervous Nellies like Hannah – not the type of people to tell her what to do. Plus she was by far the best female at challenges if not one of the best overall (the guys were better at pure brute strength).

        This time, she’s the youngest playing and her actions/attitude (that we are only seeing small bits about) might not go over as well with those who are older than she is.

        I’m not saying that there wasn’t any racism or sexism. JT did make it uncomfortable. With him, racism was the first thing I thought of. Not with Aubry though.

      • Violina23

        Well said.

      • Prom King

        Well said.

      • hardcöre umlaut

        Exactly. I think everyone can acknowledge that several factors are playing into Michaela’s current situation. She was an unknown to everyone pre-game and she does have a tendency to freak out sometimes. But when people talk about how race impacts the perception of Michaela, what we are saying is not “all of Michaela’s problems on Survivor is because white people are racist and she is black.” What we are saying is “if a white woman or white man acted the same way Michaela does, would they be treated differently/better?”

        The answer is usually yes.

        • Kemper Boyd

          She’s also the youngest. With Hali gone she’s the youngest by about 5 years I think. It all bundles together into otheryness for her.

    • tocantins

      Honestly, I feel that in current society, there exists a tendency to label everything as misogynistic or racist (or etc.). Now, let me be clear, I’m not in any way saying that these things do not exist. But I feel that we shouldn’t be so fast to point fingers unless we see actual evidence of that happening, lest we accuse people unfairly of something that (we all agree) is an extremely heinous behavior (and, at least where I live, an actual crime). In this specific example, everything that is happening to Michaela can be explained as she simply not being part of any alliance, in a game where you have to antagonize people not in your alliance (by voting them out). We have seen this before thousands of times in Survivor: for example (IIRC) with Sierra in Tocantins. (It can also be explained by racism, but that is my point: we don’t know.)

      But again, I am blonde, with blue eyes, and (reasonably) rich. So I never experienced any racism myself. (Quite the opposite: I had more than one encounter with the police, for example, both here and in the US, where I’m strongly suspicious that I would receive sanctions if I weren’t white or rich, or both. I also allow myself frequently to go out dressed in a way that I wouldn’t (as in wearing rags) if I weren’t white. But again: I’m obviously not denying that racism exists.) So I understand that this is more real and emotional to other people than to me.

      • Ms. Sweaterfan

        “Honestly, I feel that in current society, there exists a tendency to label everything as misogynistic or racist (or etc.).”
        I would counter this slightly by saying, to me, the issue is more a tendency by some to label things as misogynistic, racist (etc.) and then basically dismiss whoever was engaging in that behavior as sexist/racist/bad and move on.
        I’m happy to see deeper discussion happening (at least on this site) about what instincts might unconsciously lead people to these feelings or actions. And hopefully the next step is for us to think about ways we could counter those instincts in ourselves and others. The idea of being upset by difference is, unfortunately, probably universal – whether that perceived difference is based on gender, race, sexuality, cis vs. trans, nationality, or whatever it was that set people off about Sierra in Tocantins. Everybody doesn’t have to be BFFs with everybody else, but the first step (in my opinion, at least) should be to pause and consider ‘why is this person grating on me so much?’
        Also I have to admit that even the bullying of Sierra in Tocantins was upsetting to me, regardless of what it was based on. I know that Tyson and Stephen still maintain that she was really annoying, but it’s hard to watch people being so mean to someone when as far as we’ve been shown as the audience, the person isn’t that bad. I think that also relates to what’s going on with Michaela here. We haven’t really been shown much of a reason for people to be so bothered by her, so it’s unpleasant to watch, but also we’re sort of left (by the edit even) to guess at the reasons based on the factors we do know, including unfortunately human nature and trends in the game of Survivor.
        That’s just my two cents. The one thing I’m definitely not trying to say is that everyone on this season is a racist and that they’re bad people, etc. I would never disparage FFSDT that way, since I know how beloved she is around here 😉

        • Prom King

          Tyson’s treatment of Siera was the number one reason it took me so long to warm up to him. But I got there, all it eventually took was him voting himself out. By the time BvW came on, I was all in for a buffet of clowny shenanigans and/or evil big moves. From zero to hero! Ish.

  • PurpleTally

    What surprises me is that this is the first time Survivor has ever had an issue with a WOC. I mean, nowhere in the show’s history has there ever been a woman of color being perceived unfairly by her tribe due to race.

    *insert series of sarcastic gifs here*
    (I’d do it myself but I do not have the Survivor gif collection of our esteemed guest poster) (Also homework. So much homework.)

  • Roswulf

    So you are saying JT was being discriminated against because of anti-Southern bigotry?

    In all seriousness, great post.

  • pufflehuff

    Thanks for this post, even if the amount of gifs is greater than the capacity of the internet here 🙂

    Michaela’s scene with Cirie reminded me very loosely of the Bret-Zeke scene last season and is another reason why more diverse casting is so important because one person doesn’t have to be the token minority x and in these instances, there’s the chance to explore intergenerational differences. In both instances, there’s a frankness to the Millennial presentation that, as somebody on the upper end of that group (and thus loath to use the term) I find refreshing. As mentioned on the podcast, it was great to see Michaela spell their connection as two black American females but it’s also very understandable why Cirie would edge around the topic. Her calling out J.T. on his perception of her in Tribal was fantastic – and also brilliant strategy – and I’ll be curious if she gets to do more of this on the show.

    I haven’t watched any of Michaela’s post-show videos yet (saving for when the season’s over) but looking forward to hearing her take on the season too.

    • I was going to make the same comparison of the Cirie conversation to Zeke’s conversation with Bret last season when we do our list of highlights of this season. It really did cram a ton of social issues into a scene that lasted maybe a minute.

  • Thirty-five Sandcastles


    Two questions. Can I upvote a blog post?
    And How many times can I upvote a blog post? Anything less than a thousand is too few.

  • Head Architect Sylvia

    When people tell me that racism doesn’t exist on survivor I always remind them of this vicious racially motivated attack on Shirine in the premiere that a lot of people seem to forget about.

    Highly amusing article. Hits the nail on the head.

    • Jason

      You got that mixed up. There was racism on Survivor WA but it was from Miss OsKKKooi not from Will. Shirin was racist toward Will Sims, and he called Oskkkooi out of her being racist toward him. Oskkkooi’s boyfriend’s company was investigated for discriminating against Asian workers, so it’s not a stretch to say that Oskkkooi is racist. Let’s not forget Oskooi’s racism toward hispanic contestant Abi Maria in Second Chances. She also calls Sandra ‘a woman of color’ if a white contestant had used that phrase they’d be tarred at feathered by the pc police but Oskkkooi gets away with it

  • Violina23

    I think some of the points in this article are a bit exaggerated (I’m not ready to write off every example here as being unequivocally driven by racism), but sometimes you have to exaggerate to make a point. And (to paraphrase my tweet) if anyone reading this *maybe* starts to question whether there is more at play than “Michaela is impossible to deal with”, then the point is made.

    I think Michaela’s “outsider” status comes from a combination of places (including, of course, that nobody playing has seen her play), but I am not in any place to deny that there is a racial element. There has not been much from the edit to suggest that the castaways have had anything but respect and admiration for Cirie, but that conversation with Michaela just shows how hyper-aware she has to feel about the elephant in the room and how quickly things could crash down. You can be damn sure that J.T. and Sierra (for example) are not losing any sleep thinking about anyone looking at them differently because they are “white.”

    • nathan jones

      Shirin is a pot stirer and crap talker…she even went after wiggles and joe for going nude and compared it to people upset she went nude …um. It’s all about context…I don’t want to see shirin bottomless washing dishes just to get more airtime!!

      • Prom King

        Ugh. Go away.

        • nathan jones

          Why? It’s an opinion
          Get over it prom queen

          • Prom King

            Not all opinions are created equal. And “prom queen” is a weak insult relying on played-out stereotypes. Join the modern world.

            Shouldn’t you be posting on RHAP or someplace?

          • nathan jones

            Sorry it was a typo ..
            Do you own this forum?..
            I can post wherever I’d like!
            Gay Latino here ..I refuse to be a perpetual victim of any slight or offense ! People suck! Indulging shirin in this post helps no one !

  • Max_Jets

    @theshirin Wow!! Bravo Shirin! I'm still so in awe of this game. It literally took starving in Fiji to FEEL the condition that we live in everyday— Michaela Bradshaw (@TheMichaelaB) May 3, 2017


    • Max_Jets

      • From that video: “You learn how to do little things, and say little things- speak in codes- to try to get a point across.”

        Excuse me while I sip this tea casually.

      • tocantins

        I loved the video, but (and this is completely off-topic to the discussion here) it made me understand why CBS usually forbids lengthy social media interactions like this. (They are not forbidding it this season because it is a returnee season?) I consider myself almost spoiled: with the way she was cocky about it, especially towards the end, I seriously can’t see how she (or someone that she really likes) is not going to make it really really far.

        • Max_Jets

          That’s true. I can add a warning if you want to spoiler the second half of your comment. (Also, sorry!)

          • tocantins

            It didn’t seem necessary for me at the time, but I guess it is always better be safe than sorry.

        • It is kinda weird that she’s doing these, given how the show has generally been opposed to in-depth discussion during the season. I don’t know that it relates in any way to where she places in the game, though. I believe she did them last season as well.

          • Super duper fan

            No, she didn’t. She began at New Year’s

          • Oh. Well I’m an idiot.

          • Super duper fan

            Yes, yes you are.

        • Once they let Fishbach continue to blog for People during Cambodia, the floodgates were slightly opened.

      • Ms. Sweaterfan

        Is she on the toilet in that video?

    • Michaela is the best.

  • Diego Armando

    Thank you for posting here, Shirin. It is cool to have an actual player on the site.

    I enjoy Michaela a lot and part of that reason is her lack of filter. I want her at every tribal council.

  • the sky is falling

    Counterpoint: Cydney Gillon?

    Also a strong black woman (younger than Micheala btw) but I don’t remember her being targeted in her season. Isn’t it possible that Micheala is just a brat and Debbie was more annoying so Michaelas stuff got cut? I just find the whole post a bit overblown.

    Meh I’ll see my self out, this season sucks enough already with out all the super-serious discussions.

    • It certainly is possible that Michaela is just a brat; she’s the first to admit that she’s an emotional person that willingly speaks her mind. It’s also possible that she is being evaluated differently because of factors beyond her control.

      I think the argument that Michaela’s bad stuff is getting cut loses some steam when you remember that they showed Michaela being so pissed that she wasn’t chosen for that challenge; if footage of Michaela being emotional exists, they’re clearly willing to show it.

      Agreed on being tired of having super-serious discussions. I prefer to have seasons when these sorts of issues don’t come up, and Survivor can be a fun escape rather than a reflection of reality.

      • the sky is falling

        That’s why your site is great, plenty of content for the SJW’s when the social issues come up, and plenty of stuff for the peddlers of nonsense and snark, like me.
        I watch survivor for an escape so I will just shut my trap when it’s serious analysis issue time.
        This is what Survivor-dom deserves for voting out Tony, an un-fun season from start to finish.

        • You’ll get no argument from me that this season could have used a massive serving of Tony to help it along.

    • Assistant Dragon Slayer

      That’s a valid counterpoint. Cydney was, as you say, a strong black woman (and roughly the same age as Michaela), and also notably sharp-tongued (although IIRC she mostly confined it to confessionals, and she was much better than Michaela at masking her emotions). However, that just means she cleared the higher bar that a WOC has to clear, it doesn’t negate the existence of that higher bar. In addition, for whatever reason (which I’m not necessarily ascribing to explicit or implicit racism), neither the KR cast nor the edit ever seemed to take Cydney seriously as a contender to win (although to be absolutely fair, Michele didn’t seem like a serious contender to win either; man, what a fucked up season).

      • the sky is falling

        Ah, ok, this is a great point. I guess I just took issue with the article seeming to claim explicit racism, where its only garden variety implicit institutional bias against others.
        Much like KR, I think this will be another no-winner season.

      • Max_Jets

        Hmm, I always saw Cydney as a serious contender to win (definitely top 3) and I know Inside Survivor’s edgic did too, but I also know people thought her edit was too quiet for how entertaining she was.

  • Diego Armando

    (I am a white male, so take my opinion with a grain of salt)

    While I think Michaela has done things to legitimately irritate people (her lack of filter, pouting at the challenge), but I also think that race has been a factor. I am glad for that scene where she bonded with Cirie. Women of color have always had an uphill battle in Survivor.

    • Kemper Boyd

      I think she probably has but I doubt it’s more than any other person has. They are living 24 hours with each other, that shit is exhausting. The reaction seems to have something to do with othering and her otherness is race and age.

  • StormofCuteness

    *Applauds* 1st–thanks so much for joining us Shirin.
    2nd-I am in awe of you giffing ability.
    3rd-You stuck the landing!

  • Ms_Woozah

    *slow clap* Just, bravo.

  • This is amazing on so many levels. I have nothing else to say.

  • nathan jones

    Really shirin? You’re the perpetual put upon girl…you’ve exhausted your S30 capital…trying to stir up sh⭐T that’s not there ! I stood for you when it all went down on your season…but you’ve turned into a mad woman
    You say tons of crap about people but u can’t take it! Enjoy your millions
    Hope to never see you on the tele again!!

    • Kemper Boyd

      Aren’t you clever attacking someone as put upon for what is a great post done entirely in gifs. Shirin is right, we have seen no evidence of Michaela being some camp ruining monster. If you look at exit interviews people are saying she was nice, they liked her, she’s lovely.
      And if you can’t type the word shit, we don’t need to listen to any of yours, ok?

      • nathan jones

        oh please ! You know exactly what shirin is insinuating! She wants to stir crap and you know it! Not everything is a racial anti woman thing..both you and I were not there but people have also said they disliked her and she was hard to live with! U can choose to block me if my opinion is not worth listening to…I’ll still read yours even if I disagree

        • Kemper Boyd

          Mate, you need to calm down. The fact you jump in to insult her immediately means you aren’t in the right. The really funny thing is the nature of why Michaela is getting hate that isn’t canonically shown on the show has been discussed here before Shirin posted.
          It is thought by many of us that at the very least the reason her fellow castaways d pick her as the odd one out is to do with her being different to them. She’s younger and a black woman (a group who historically don’t do well on the show). Just because bias isn’t an overt ‘ism doesn’t mean that bias doesn’t exist.

          • nathan jones

            I am calm..and I never said it doesn’t exist..zeke was different to them too and he seemed to get on alright..cirie was different to them at the start and has done amazing , tai very different.. ..even naOnka was awful yet people kept her.. It cant only be because of the color of her skin! That can not be the go to reason … can it possibly be that she is unlikable..? And didn’t vibe right with people ? Sucked what happened to shirin..but it’s like she refuses to see that she was unlikable prior to that ..even by hali and jenn…IN THE GAME!

          • Kemper Boyd

            Zeke was at first impression a 29 year old white guy. He knows Andrea IRL, he’s on a season with 2 other gay men.
            You think the only thing about being a person of colour is the actual colour of your skin? It’s not it’s cultural too, it’s the prejudice that a person has to deal with on an everyday basis. Those things are part of what make people different as well as looking different. And even then, tell me who are the two people who have spoken about Michaela, liking her and wanting to know her? Who are they? They are the other two women of colour on the season and in this case they are the two most prominent female Survivors of colour.
            Tai is different and we’ve seen how that worked for him last time, he was belittled, he was treated as simple, like he’d follow along and he got no credit for his game and was a zero vote finalist.
            Shirin didn’t click with people that’s a completely different issue to the fact two horrific men called her horrible names, one told her no one loved her and she had no soul and the other said her history of abuse was the same as him being adopted. What happened to Shirin is legitimately one of the worst things we’d seen in Survivor and the only reason anyone helped her was Mike already had immunity and was the big target anyway.

  • Prom King

    I just read this great article a second time and wanted to point out that if you try to save these gifs, many of them have fun joke names. Easter eggs! I especially like the JT ones.

  • Nicholas Parker

    Hilarious, but also so true!

  • Karl Kostik

    Justifying our unhappiness is one of the biggest tragedies in life. It always leads to bigotry.

    Accepting ourselves allows us to appreciate the true beauty that’s everywhere in the world. Only here can we escape bigotry.