Jeff Probst informed us before this season began that this- the thirtieth season of Survivor- is very Shakespearean in how it plays out. And so I ask you- friends, Survivor fans, fellow humans- to lend me your ears. (And apologies in advance, non-English majors.)
The noble Will has told you that Shirin questioned his character.
If it were so, it was a grievous fault.
And grievously did Shirin answer for it.
Here, under leave of Will and the rest at the camp–
For Will is an honorable man;
So are they all- Rodney, Tyler, Sierra- all honorable men and women–
Come I to speak about this episode of Survivor.
Shirin is- in internet age terms, at least- my friend, hilarious and kind to me:
But Will says she questioned his character;
And Will is an honorable man.
He has shared his food with the others
and they didn’t appreciate his generosity.
Is he not justified in his anger?
Do not those who doubted him deserve to be shamed?
Three people cast doubts on his gift- Mike, Jenn, and Shirin.
But Will says Shirin is a greedy ass;
And Will is an honorable man.
Shirin is the smallest of Will’s accusers
And we never see her accuse him.
A man, feeling the sting of these accusations
might rightfully want to confront all of his accusers.
Shirin wept following Will’s attacks:
Those with no soul should be made of sterner stuff.
But Will says Shirin has no soul;
And Will is an honorable man.
You all did see that Shirin
responded calmly to Will’s anger,
asking him if he needed to speak to her that way.
Was this the attack of Will’s character?
Yet Will says she questioned his character;
And, sure, he is an honorable man.
I am not here to disprove that Will was wronged,
I will instead discuss what came before:
You have all watched along this season.
You have seen Shirin being called annoying.
Many have said it, so it must be true.
For haven’t all of you been called things by others?
And aren’t those assessments of your character indisputably correct?
No, it is not for me to question their judgment.
Carolyn, Joaquin, Rodney; their insight is beyond reproach.
Shirin is annoying.
Let us not pity her for Will’s aggression;
Were she not prone to such ugly behaviors
Will would not have lashed out so strongly.
But Will says she is ugly;
And, of course, Will is an honorable man.
I hesitate to even talk of tribal council.
If I do, I fear it may stir your hearts
and minds to brutal, unrelenting rage.
It would paint Will in a bad light!
And you know that Will is an honorable man.
If I were to discuss tribal council-
and to be clear, that is not my intent!-
I would note that Shirin claimed Will had gone
from defending himself to personally attacking her.
But surely Will hadn’t done that.
He hadn’t! He said so himself!
Will is an honorable Christian man;
He is not some asshole hiding behind a religious facade.
And so it would seem out of place
to bring up Will’s comments and defenses.
He may have told Shirin that he has more friends
in this game than she has in her whole life.
It is truth, and Will is only here to speak truths!
Sure, one could point out that Will-
a sensation of the internet, to be sure-
has just one-fifth the Twitter followers of Shirin.
Were I here to disprove Will’s claims or-
perish the terrible, terrible thought!-
call him out for being an asshole
I might post a small sampling of reactions
to Will’s outburst from last night’s episode.
Reactions, I should note, that are even more
unanimous than the answer to “Are puppies cute?”
But no, I’m not here to do that.
What purpose would such a thing serve?
To prove to all of you that Will
is an unrepentant shitheel worthy of your scorn?
Was Will worthy of your scorn when Shirin-
a strong, proud woman despite her diminutive frame-
broke down into tears when recounting their confrontation?
When, after she recounted a miserable upbringing-
one with a father who doesn’t deserve that title,
who led Shirin to seek a high-paying job that she might one day
provide her mother with the means to leave an abusive relationship,
a fact she hinted at in her own CBS bio, by the way-
Will responded, with the casual manner one would
expect when asking for a dinner reservation,
that Shirin was “playing the victim”-
complete with air quotes reserved
for the most mundane of issues-
does he then deserve to be pilloried?
I am surely not the same caliber of man as Will,
a man who defended his claims that Shirin had no soul
with an indisputable “That’s true, though!”
I fear that unlike Will, I may be an asshole.
But being an asshole, dear friends,
is not what sets me apart from Will.
For you see, there are two types of asshole:
There is the repentant asshole who feels remorse
for those occasions when he has stepped over a line,
And there is the unrepentant asshole who lacks remorse
and may even celebrate the crossing of those lines.
I should strive to be a man such as Will!
Can you, dear friends, imagine the possibilities?
I might be inclined to break Will’s spirit!
But no, Will doesn’t deserve such things!
If you saw a man such as Will berating a woman
in the aisles of your local grocery store-
condemning her lack of a soul
and suggesting that she is unworthy of love-
You would do the honorable thing
and ignore this disgusting behavior.
And that is what I must do.
But just for a moment, let us imagine
a world where I did not feel the need
to sit idly by and remain silent about Will.
Let us imagine what it would be like if I were
to allow myself to share in Shirin’s anger over his words.
Would I dare note that dear Will-
sensation of no less than one YouTube video,
and surely a jovial person in real life-
acted like a reprehensible shithead
and continues to celebrate his behavior?
Would I suggest that the very behaviors he demonstrated-
mocking air quotes when calling Shirin a “victim”
even as she describes a clearly painful moment-
are the very antithesis of the practices his religion
claims to instill in its adherents?
That his faith and the practice of it
begins and ends at praying before meals?
That he wants all the benefits of a religious man-
the respect and kinship of fellow believers-
without expending any of the effort that would
afford him those benefits?
Would I delight at the moment when Shirin-
in a move that brought her no social advantage
and actively antagonized a potential juror-
defiantly raised her hand in objection
to Will’s bullshit offer to sit out the challenge?
Would I point out that Will would lose the challenge
regardless, and should not be rewarded for it?
Would I dig in to Will’s past and find things
that may upset and trouble him deeply
and then post them publicly in this space?
Tempting though it may be to do such things,
I would have remorse for such behaviors.
You may recall that I am not the same caliber of man as Will.
If I were to step over the line-
as Will clearly did in this episode
and as I would if I taunted him over
hurtful events from his own life-
I would be an unrepentant asshole.
Instead, I will do today what I have done for the past eight weeks.
I will celebrate anything and everything Shirin:
her determination to overcome all assholes that stand in her way,
the decent human beings that actually adore her,
the joy she brings to what is quickly becoming a joyless season.
And I may create some ridiculous Photoshopped images
that express my love of some players in this game:
or my disdain for the person that made this week hard to watch:
But most of all, I shall root for Shirin’s success-
no matter how stacked the odds against it seem.
And I will finish with two very succinct thoughts:
Eat a dick, Will.
Fucking slay, Shirin.
John is the co-host of the Purple Rock Survivor Podcast. He can get loud too, what the fuck!
Favorite seasons: Heroes vs. Villains, Cagayan, Pearl Islands, Tocantins, Cambodia