“you are a guy sitting behind a computer writing SHIT about all these people”

Today’s interview with Charlie marks the halfway point of my Survivor Gabon cast interviews. Re-listening to my conversations and condensing them based upon my notes from June has been a fascinating process. As I mentioned at the start, I’m anxious to see how those translate to the actual game (and it’s been difficult enough to stick to my pre-game notes and impressions, since we did see the first episode play out).

While I welcome criticism and it certainly is a healthy part of journalism, and I’m used to the occasional angrily worded message, one message I received about these cast member analysis pieces was particularly interesting, especially since it was sent anonymously from someone in Chicago:

“..first of all why don’t you tell the truth about the contestants… you are a guy sitting behind a computer writing SHIT about all these people the game hasn’t even started… Dan is the fucking CRAZY one.. Susie.. cant shut the fuck up in her interviews… Matty has way more of a go then anyone else.. and Kelly is a smart beautiful young girl that prolly didn’t like you cause you were a asshole..and I heard she had something in her eye the whole time u were interviewing her.. SO WHY DONT U GO tell the fucking truth to America..about urself.. ur white trash.. and Corinne.. on the bottom.. ? and Paloma and charley and susie on top…you like to judge a book by its cover..thats prolly why u picked all the ugly people.. cuZ u could never get a pretty girl.. FAGGOT”

I think that message communicates “the fucking truth to America” better than I could. It’s also interesting because I didn’t mention Chicagoan Kelly Czarnecki getting something in her eye in my interview with her, and since no one else on the planet would have known that, the message (which had an Illinois-based IP address, which I checked because I was so curious) is either her writing in the third person, or is from a friend she shared that random detail with and who’s defending her. I can understand and even sympathize with either possibility. It is odd to me to think that some of the cast members are actually reading and watching themselves be analyzed, whether it’s what I’m writing, what Jeff Probst has to say, or what fans are discussing on message boards.

Still, since the eye irritation is getting blamed for Kelly’s not-exactly-pleasant disposition and not-exactly-stimulating answers during our interview, and because I believe in transparency, here’s that exchange, which actually came at the conclusion of our interview, 11 minutes into the 12 minute and 20 second recording. Judge for yourself whether I was callous and should have called for an ambulance instead of continuing to be an asshole:

Andy Dehnart: “Anything you want people to know sort of about you going into this game? How, you know, besides what you’ve already mentioned, like, about yourself or the way you’re — how they might perceive you, or anything like that? Can you anticipate someone’s reaction to you in advance and say, here’s what they should know about me?”

Kelly Czarnecki: “Well, that I’m very independent, I’m competitive by nature. And, um. Hold on, there’s something in my eye.”

Andy: “Lots of bugs flying around.” (chuckle)

Kelly: “Yeah. Um. (pause) I’m creative, like my creative outlook on things. Positive. Very optimistic. (brief crosstalk) Some people, like, portray me as a bitch, but just because I’m, like, honest.”

Andy: “And that–do you worry about that, like, your honesty? Are you going to try to…”

Kelly: “I don’t take anything personally. If you take things personally you’re screwed.”

Andy: “So just be yourself?”

Kelly: “Just be yourself. I’m always myself. Successful. Always willing to take a risk, to succeed and push forward.”

Andy: “Excellent. Well, good luck pushing forward through the next 39 days in the game.”

Kelly: “Thank you. Yeah, don’t you wish you were me?”

Andy: “Uh, I don’t know! (laughs)”

Kelly: “Oh my god, it’s very crazy!”

Andy: “I’m enjoying this part of it.”

Kelly: “Chilling in the shade?”

Andy: “Exactly, yeah.”

And that’s where our conversation ended. Of course, by posting this (the transcript itself makes a clear argument for the necessity of editing), I’m probably asking for more criticism, and that’s okay.

That response, however, makes me curious what you non-cast members think so far. Are these pre-season interviews (here and elsewhere) a good way to judge how people will play the game? Or how good the season will be? Or is it unfair, especially when there are insects involved? Share your thoughts on Facebook, whether you’re a fan, a hater, or a cast member who doesn’t take things personally.

Review: Married at First Sight

Marriage At First Sight

In an era of Tinder and Grindr, instant acceptance or dismissal of a potential partner, or instant sex with another body, Married at First Sight offers the thrill of watching strangers deal with the very basics of relationships.

Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.