Ben Browning: “love me or hate me, or fuck off, I could really care less”

This is the 18th in a series of interviews with Survivor Samoa cast members.

Ben BrowningBen Browning and I talked for just over 10 minutes, by far my shortest interview this season. That was because he answered in short, declarative sentences and never went into much detail. That and his general attitude didn’t leave me with a great impression of him, but the other two contestants who were somewhat like this, JT and Matty, surprised me once the game started, so we’ll see.

Ben Browning was recruited for Survivor Samoa walking around Venice Beach, He’s never watched the show and said, “I don’t even watch TV.” But he said yes because at that point in his life, he was “ready to just get the fuck out, get out and do something different. I said, I’m going to move to Bali for six months and just relax on the beach,” but then he was recruited.

Ben prepared by eating (“I ate like crazy” and “twice as much as I usually would,” he said, because “I don’t want to be a skinny bastard when I get off here”) and by watching two, or three, or maybe four seasons, and said only “I got a pretty good idea of what’s going on.” That’s what’s kind of annoying about Ben: everything he says comes off as a platitude because he never really goes into any depth or detail.

His life experiences will make the survival part easy, he told me. “I’m a country boy, I’m pretty social, I get a long with everybody, I speak my mind, I’m a successful guy. If I want something, I work for it. I’ve got a good work ethic. I grew up hunting, fishing, camping, all that stuff. I’m not really worried about me having any weaknesses out here, as far as survival stuff. I can start a fire with a stick and a shoe string,” Ben said. During the game, Ben said that starvation “might annoy me” but said “I’ll eat pretty much anything close to shit to survive.”

Unlike some cast members, he’s here to “win a million dollars, baby,” and said, “I’m a competitive guy. I don’t ever want to be last; I always want to win. I’m really good at debate, I’m really good at proving my point. I don’t argue unless I’m right. I don’t lose, man.” The closest he came to articulating a strategy was to say, “I’m going to focus on me, just do my thing, let everybody else play their little drama things.” He also said, “You can’t really say unless you’re out there,” which is certainly a smart way to play.

The way he described his social interaction made it sound like he was going to be both confrontational and passive, and I’m not sure if he was contradicting himself or not. “I’m not a dramatic guy. I don’t get involved with people’s nonsense and bullshit. if somebody wrongs me, I’ll confront ‘em. I just worry about myself. It’s gotten me this far. I run the most successful restaurant in Los Angeles,” he said. That’s The Bazaar at SLS by Jose Andres, although he left his job running the bar there and said that next, “I’m going to travel around, and I’m supposed to open six bars on the best private beaches in the world, so I got a pretty good job.”

He expects to get along well with women. “I had two older sisters who broke it down for me,” he said. “I’ve been around girls my whole life, and I’ve always just done really well for myself. I respect women; my family’s really Southern. I think that helps me; people realize I respect women, I stick up for ‘em. Girls tend to kind of be magnetic towards me; it’s natural, it’s not like I’m tryin’.”

Finally, Ben certainly doesn’t care what anyone thinks about him. “People either like me or hate me, and I’d rather it be that way…love me or hate me, or fuck off, I could really care less,” he said. “I’m one of those people who does not care what people think about me. I’m my own person. I think I’m wise in my young age.” If someone has something negative to say about him, Ben said, “fuck you, I don’t care, I don’t know you.”

Hear Ben discuss who he thinks should “shut the fuck up,” what he thinks about making first impressions of his fellow competitors, and why negative attention is “awesome”:

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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.