Jaison’s stand against vile Ben’s racism takes control from Russell; Ben says of Jaison, “you’re not a slave”

After starting a fire early in the third episode of Survivor Samoa, Ben told us, “without my help, these people will die.” Clearly, Foa Foa’s members would rather be dead than be around him for another three days, as they voted his stupid ass out. Bye, fucker.

Yes, vile Ben Browning is gone from Survivor Samoa, and so, apparently, is Russell H.’s power. And along with that, we have a new hero: Jaison Robinson, who was so bothered by Ben, he threatened to quit. “It’s the racist comments. I just won’t stand here and tolerate that. I just won’t,” he said. Thankfully, instead of leaving, he said, “I am trying to lead a crusade right now,” and that crusade worked. Being willing to sacrifice $1 million for his principles is pretty damn impressive, since this is a game in which standing out isn’t exactly preferable.

Reality show cast members who say racist or awful things rarely get confronted by their fellow cast members, and when they do, it’s typically by someone who’s not all that articulate or smart themselves, so it doesn’t have much impact on the awful person or viewers’ desire to watch the awful person be crushed. Jaison, however, delivered what we’ve been waiting for, confronting Ben at Tribal Council in a nearly flawless way: calmly yet forcefully, and with intelligent yet effective, easy-to-understand arguments.

Jaison even brilliantly turned Ben’s own bullshit against him, saying at the very least, someone with alleged Southern values should have treated a woman with respect, regardless of her race. What quickly became clear is that Ben is a sexist bigot who’s completely ignorant and unwilling to see the world from anyone else’s perspective. (Summarizing or quoting Jaison’s awesomeness and the confrontation won’t do it justice, so just re-watch Tribal Council.)

Just as satisfying was the way Jaison also took down Russell as a leader by undermining all of his weak arguments about keeping Ben. “Name one thing he’s done in a challenge,” Jaison told Russell, and after Russell changed his argument to not wanting the women to have greater numbers than the men, Jaison simply said, “This is ridiculous.” (Speaking of women, Ben added to his library of offensive comments when he insisted his tribe’s women would be incapable of starting a fire so they shouldn’t even try. He also said he wasn’t being “chauvinistic.” Right.)

Throughout the episode, the editors wouldn’t stop including footage of Russell proclaiming his power, which started to get annoying because he’d just pop up randomly, reminding us of his infinite power that makes even Jesus jealous: “It’s called a Ruseel seed. It takes over their whole mind.” “These people are just idiots.” “It is shocking that these people trust me so much.” The one thing I suppose you could argue in Russell’s favor was that he relented when he realized the tribe was against him, rather than continuing to be a control freak bully.

Meanwhile, Galu won the combined reward and immunity challenge, which was a pretty weak challenge, with yet another opportunity for hand-to-hand combat, which mostly resulted in people splashing salt water in each other’s eyes. Then they had to stack four blocks, which bordered on being something Big Brother would do. Mostly, it reminded me that I really miss having two challenges in each episode, both for the way they affect the pacing of the show (less Russell H.!) and just because the challenges are cool. Having just one challenge in each episode, which I’m sure will change soon, has also allowed Galu to dominate, because they not only win immunity and reward (although Russell S. totally screwed up by choosing comfort items instead of a tarp and other equipment for their reward), but also get to send a spy to the other camp, which has replaced Exile this season.

As Galu’s spy, Shambo left her “90210” tribemates behind–Has she ever watched 90210? Because her tribemates look and act nothing like the cast of that show, either the new one or the old one–and joined Foa Foa, and then searched for the immunity idol that Russell already found by crawling into the tree trunk and sticking her ass in the air. Subtle. Shambo did not get into an argument with Ben, and even complimented him, which is unfortunate, because I would have loved to see her go Rambo on his ass.

As to Ben, he was my least-favorite person pre-season, and nothing has changed. In fact, he’s only gotten worse, even during his press interviews this morning.

When I talked to Ben a few minutes ago, he started by admitting that he had no idea how the social game would work. “I thought it was going to be more survival. If the game was survive, I would win,” he said. “It’s such a social game, and I went into completely blind to how it really was.” If he had it to do over again, Ben said, “I wouldn’t do a damn thing. I would sit back and relax and be lazy like everybody else on my tribe.” Even though he was voted out, Ben said, “I have no grudges against anybody.” Guess what? We have a grudge against you!

Yasmin’s visit to Foa Foa prompted an argument between her and Ben, and before the show began, Ben ironically told me he’s “not a dramatic guy.” It was that argument and his other comments that ultimately sent him home. (Marisa revealed that there was even more we didn’t see.)

When Ben and I talked about his confrontation with Yasmin and subsequent discussion with Jaison, Ben wavered between a) not caring, b) occasionally showing some understanding, and c) being horrible.

I asked if he understood how others interpreted his comments as offensive, and he showed some self-awareness and said, “I completely see how people would think that. I’m trying to piss her off, I’ll say whatever. That doesn’t make me a racist, that just makes me a mean bastard.” Then he tried to justify it by saying that Yasmin “kept saying she was hood and she was ghetto, but if I say that, it’s racist. It’s just bullshit; it makes me laugh even harder.” It’s clear from that and Tribal Council that he has no understanding about the impact words can have, or that context and intent matter; it’s quite different for Yasmin to use a word and another for him to hurl it at her in vicious anger.

As to whether he’s racist, Ben told me that his friends and family “know that I’m not like that. I’ve dated every kind of girl.” He doesn’t care what others think–it “takes a lot of energy to hate somebody, if people want to hate on me, let them hate, I really don’t care”–and said he chose words like “ghetto trash” in his argument with Yasmin “to piss her off, plain and simple, and it worked.” But Ben also said that those words “can be interpreted however you want,” and added, “I think it’s funny that people make such a big deal out of it.”

When we talked about Tribal Council, Ben started by complimenting Jaison, who’s “is a thinker, for sure. He’s a smart guy.” But then he said, “He overthinks stuff a little bit. One thing I just don’t like is people trying to play the historic race card. Give it up, dude. It’s the human race. We have a black president now.”

A few seconds later, Ben said, “get over it, dude; you’re not a slave.”

Ben said that argument “just kills me” because “it’s 2009, get with the program.” He added that if historic racism mattered, “you guys should be more sensitive to me because I’m a Native American.” I pointed out that no one used Native American stereotypes in arguments with him, and Ben said, “if you want to be ultra-sensitive to that kind of stuff, that’s your prerogative.”

And I suppose it’s his prerogative to continue being a vile, racist ass who will not be missed.

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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.