When Vince had to sneak into the Vokai tribe’s camp, it was one of the few times that Survivor broke the third wall. Everyone normally pretends that the cameramen are invisible, but they played a direct role in Vince’s covert maneuvers. Any time that the Vokai tribe members might have heard Vince, they just assumed it was the cameramen. It would have been a lot harder for him otherwise. Maybe to really take advantage of this, he should have body-checked a cameraman into the Vokai shelter.
However, joking aside, could a player purposely use the cameramen as a distraction because they’re supposed to be ignored? I assume the producers emphasize very strongly that the players need to pretend the cameramen aren’t there. You could see this in the behavior of the Vokai who did wake up during Vince’s invasion. As soon as they saw the cameramen, they nervously looked away and tried to go back to sleep.
I’ve discussed in this blog before about what should be considered “inside” the game and “outside” the game. Where do the cameramen fit into this inside/outside dynamic? On the one hand, they are clearly inside the game because they’re physically present with the players. The game is the whole reason that the cameramen are there. On the other hand, the producers have given the players strict instructions to treat the cameramen as if they were outside the game. As if they have nothing to do with the players (except during interviews).
The cameramen are therefore like the scaffolding of the game. They are the process itself. The consciousness of the game. The viewers won’t know anything about what’s happening in the game unless it appears in the cameramen’s sensory field, just like the only way we rationally know about anything in our lives is when it appears in our consciousness somehow. Anything in Survivor that happens beyond the cameras is kind of like an event in the game’s unconscious. It might be affecting the game, but not in a way that the viewers could “know” unless some evidence appeared on camera. For viewers, the cameramen are like Immanuel Kant’s process of thinking that can never be observed objectively.
Of course, this analogy is also flawed, because the players can see the cameramen, even if we the viewers can’t. When the players talk to the cameras during interviews, it’s presented to the viewers almost as if the players are talking into a mirror, but that’s not actually happening. The players are talking to other people, who are reacting to the things they say and talking back. That’s why it was so interesting to see this illusion break down during Vince’s invasion of the Vokai camp.
I don’t think it would be ethical inside the game to physically use the cameramen in order to advance in the game, since the cameramen are technically “outside the game”. However, I think the fear among the players of breaking the rule of ignoring the cameramen is “inside” the game. I don’t see any difference between leveraging that fear as opposed to the fear of breaking any other rule in Survivor. Therefore, I don’t think there’s any problem with players manipulating the fear of the cameramen to help win the game.
By the way, I noticed that the initials of “Island of the Idols” could be written “lol”. Maybe the producers are telling us something…