When Tony talked about the extortion advantage, he said “of course” he couldn’t extort anyone in real life as a policeman, but it “looks like fun”. This made me wonder if an attorney could someday use that line against him. If someone arrested by Tony alleges that Tony tried to extort money from him, could the jury see these Survivor interviews in court?
That wouldn’t be fair to Tony, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t happen. In this blog, I try to find the lines between ethics inside and outside the game, but the rest of the world could (and probably often does) see those lines differently. Jokes like Tony’s are sometimes used as attacks against people’s character in many other contexts. Old Twitter accounts have become minefields for public figures.
These days, American society sometimes gives conflicting messages about the purpose of jokes. We live in an era when humor is often exalted as a way to tell the most insightful truths about life. Comedians are praised as keen examiners of human behavior. Yet when people are offended by our humor, we might try to soothe them by saying it was “only” a joke. People often tell jokes merely to lighten the mood of an event. Can jokes really carry these two contradictory senses – sometimes as particularly truthful but other times as particularly not truthful?
Humor seems to be a basic human feature like love or music, which can’t be pinned to a single type of situation. Each situation has to be evaluated on its own conditions and context. Tony’s words when he’s on Survivor should be evaluated differently than his words when he’s in uniform. The context has changed and that is always vital for assessing a situation. As disturbing as this can be to many people, context matters. That context might be extremely broad and practically impossible for humans to get outside (as with scientific laws), but it is context nonetheless.
Although just getting back to this episode for a minute, Tony needed 3 extra fire tokens to pay the extortion, but then he earned 2 fire tokens for winning the immunity challenge. Does that mean he paid back two of the people who gave him fire tokens? If so, who was the third person he did not pay back? There was nothing about any of this later in the episode. Does that mean he didn’t pay back anyone for their fire tokens? How did he get away with that?
A final note: Ben might not have earned any TV fans when he said: “It’s crazy how quick a million goes.” Really? Is that why all these champions are back on the show? Is Survivor like the lottery, with winners blowing their money on yachts made of crack, then having to go back to their old 9-5 jobs? Considering that winning Survivor requires some strategy and ability to read a situation logically, I’d be a little surprised if so few of them rationally assessed their finances after winning. But I’ve been wrong before.