The decision to divide contestants by race on Survivor: Cook Islands was followed by an advertiser walkout by Home Depot, Campbell Soup, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola North America, Johnson & Johnson and even General Motors, which has sponsored the show for 12 seasons. (GM maintains its decision had nothing to do with the racial divisions.)
In the Hollywood Reporter, Ray Richmond joined a chorus of media when he let producer Mark Burnett have it for ‘tapping a raw segregationist nerve and exploiting America’s obsession with race for personal gain.’
But Richmond need not have worried, karma tends to take care of bad decisions. Nielsen Media Research reports that the premiere episode averaged 18 million viewers in the US, the second-lowest premiere of the franchise since its debut in 2000 – initial episodes have averaged 20 million or more in the new millennium.
And, to add insult to injury, even the racists aren’t happy. Some of the white supremacist boards are dismissing the casting move as a stunt. You have to ask yourself: just how far have you strayed from the pack when even racists don’t want a piece of the action?