Survivor has been a CBS mainstay for 38 seasons now, with Seasons 39 and 40 already underway. That’s because the show brings fans a wide spectrum of social interaction. With castaways from all over the country with a vast range of beliefs and political opinions, it’s only natural that eventually tempers will flare or contestants will make inflammatory statements.
This most recent season, Survivor: Edge of Extinction, was no exception. However, according to one castaway, what we saw on camera wasn’t all of it. In fact, on the very first day, things were getting uncomfortable off camera.
Who is Julia Carter
Julia Carter is a medical assistant originally from Pennsylvania, and Edge of Extinction was her first time on Survivor. Julia had a strong run, making it all the way to the merge before the tribe turned on her in an incredibly chaotic tribal council. According to her CBS bio, Julia is the first in her family to attend and complete college.
According to the same bio, Julia is a Survivor fan. “It has been my dream to be on Survivor since I started watching as a kid. It started after the passing of my father, and in a sense, it helped me ‘survive’ my own challenges. I want to prove to myself I can do this. To win a million dollars is also a huge motivation. I have many student loans and I want to be able to help my sister and mother.”
Excluded from the first four episodes
There was some trouble from the get-go when it came to how the show was edited. In the first four episodes, every castaway had a confessional except for Julia Carter. She was also one of only two black contestants featured on the show, a criticism that Survivor has faced in the past.
The twitter account that serves as Rob’s Fact Checker (think Rob Has a Podcast, Survivor fans) tweeted the following statistics, “Only 20 #Survivor contestants in history did not get a confessional in the first 3 episodes (2.9% of players). On average they went on to be in 6.9 more episodes and get 1.5 confessionals/episode so there is still hope for @thejuliacarter!”
Julia herself obviously took some umbrage with how she was edited on the show, especially due to the previous criticism Survivor has received. She tweeted, “As Jeff Probst said, I went on #Survivor knowing I may be a role model & inspire someone to play despite NOT fitting the archetype. Therefore, in S38, in which there are only 2 Black castaways, it’s disheartening to see the lack of equitable airtime defeating my goal.”
Adhering to stereotypes
This season of Survivor also received criticism for its focus on a specific racial stereotype. The only other black castaway, Keith Sowell, reveals that he doesn’t know how to swim. The show spent a solid amount of focus on that fact, with Probst frequently calling it out during a swimming challenge.
Sarah Channon of Rob Has a Website tweeted, “Kind of awkward that Davie uses his finale moment to give an inspiring speech about wanting more black people to watch #Survivor… and CBS follows that up by casting a kid who can’t swim and giving no confessionals to the only other African American on the season.”
The incident at camp
Julia Carter wrote a blog post detailing her time on Survivor, and revealed that things went to a dark place on the very first night. According to Julia, the event in question took place around her tribe’s campfire, as they were all bonding over a game. The idea was to guess a movie based off of a quote.
Julia wrote, “The line was ‘Look at that n***** on a horse.’; the movie, Django. As soon as the word hit the air, all looks either hit the floor with the quickness or subtly adjusted to me, the only Black castaway on Kama beach. Everyone shifted a little on their logs, uncomfortable to say the least. I say, ‘Django?’ through gritted teeth. Ding, ding, ding. I win, huh? ‘Wow,’ I thought. On day one, really? A social game, and we’re out here dropping racial slurs? Or is it okay because it was woven into a quote in a game? No one says anything, no one brings it up. Even me.”
And that wasn’t the end of it either. Julia heard it come up again not long after. While discussing a South Park episode, someone made a joke about a punchline in the show based on the same word.
“Furious is an understatement of how I was feeling in that moment. As I was about to bite whatever bullet was going to come my way and say something, Ron interjects and says, ‘You cannot say that word!’” wrote Julia.
It seems as if Survivor and its castaways themselves still have quite a ways to go when it comes to racial equality and respect.