'Survivor' result more than disappointingSteve Hammer

I'm tired of reality. OK, I've always been tired of reality, that harsh mistress which enforces life's limitations, such as the fact I'll never be a lottery winner, world-famous author or husband of a supermodel. There were other Survivors on the show, such as the always-naked Richard Hatch and the mush-mouthed Boston Rob, but Rupert was the only one who deserved attention.

But the brand of reality I'm most dissatisfied with is the kind proffered on my television screen, from Fear Factor to American Idol to the worst offender, Survivor.

I recently invested hours and hours of my life in Survivor All-Stars, a series purporting to show the best contestants from seven installments of the show.

We had 75-year-old Rudy Bosch, military veteran and crusty old geezer; the lovely Amber Brkich, whose lack of vowels only heightened her allure; and the greatest Survivor of them all, Indy native Rupert Boneham.

There were other Survivors on the show, such as the always-naked Richard Hatch and the mush-mouthed Boston Rob, but Rupert was the only one who deserved attention.

He was sweet, hardworking, fun-loving and - in a series first - honest to a fault. Over the course of 30-plus days in Panama, Rupert played the game honorably and without stabbing anyone in the back.

So I sat down Sunday night to watch the series finale with high expectations of a Rupert victory. His competition was weak and Rupert was at his peak of strength. There was no way he could lose.

Of course, he was bounced out of the game within the show's first half-hour, proving that good people can't win at that game. Instead, the surgically-enhanced Ms. Brkich waltzed away with a marriage proposal and the $1 million prize, in perhaps the most unpopular election result since Florida 2000.

I was reminded of Johnny Rotten's taunt during the last Sex Pistols concert in 1978: "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?"

I felt not only cheated but violated. I'd spent multiple Thursday nights of my life investing time in a swindle perpetrated by CBS. I endured crappy product-placement ads, manipulative editing and public access TV-quality production values.

And I threw up in my mouth at the thought of the two dumbest television contestants in history getting married and producing even dumber offspring.

But right when I was about to blast a couple of .45-caliber sized holes in my television screen, the Survivor producers introduced one last twist to the game.

From now until 11 p.m. Wednesday, average folk like us can vote for our favorite Survivor at www.cbs.com/survivor. The winner will be announced Thursday night.

Rupert still has a shot at the million dollar prize he deserves, which is nice, but I still want to shoot my television, or at least throw it off a hotel balcony à la The Who.

As a student of media, I'm used to being manipulated. But I'm so sick of reality-based shows that I will probably never watch Survivor again - especially if Rupert loses Thursday.

Another show I hate with the fire of a thousand suns is American Idol, the show that proves why popular music sucks more now than at any time in history. I hate that show worse than bin Laden hates America, but I still watch each and every episode.

They're down to the final four contestants on Idol. You've got a generic diva; a feisty gospel-style shouter; a 17-year-old Hawaiian girl with a sweet personality and no voice; and a robotic 16-year-old former child beauty pageant contestant from Snellville, Ga.

Close to 70,000 people entered the competition and this is the best we can get? The demise of the recording industry is closer than we thought if this is the best America can offer. We may as well now outsource all pop music to the farms of Sweden, the same ones which gave us ABBA and Ace of Base.

American Idol is not just a cultural irritant, it's the source of social strife as well. When an African-American singer was eliminated from competition at the expense of a red-haired, even-more-talentless white kid, it unleashed a shitstorm of epic proportions.

Even the Queen of England, Sir Elton John, chimed in, saying that the results proved how racist America has become.

For a few days, until America decided not to be racist and voted off the red-haired kid, it looked like Sir Elton was going to spark a race war.

If I remember correctly, the last Beatles-influenced musician to try and incite a race war was Charles Manson. That not only puts Elton in good company but shows how low we've fallen as a society.

Out of habit or out of morbid curiosity, I still watch Idol and try and handicap it every week. (For the obsessed: LaToya should win, but Diana will actually win.) But I'm worried about our country.

When I was a kid, there were actual shows on television, where fictional characters interacted with each other and got into zany situations. Fonzie jumped a shark tank with his motorcycle. Mork impregnated Mindy. Ward was a little too rough on the Beaver.

Now, we're glued to the TV to see which white-trash loser can outwit or outsing the other. The seventh seal has been broken. We are all doomed. Surely we cannot have much time left.

Until then, though, make sure you vote for Rupert, and be sure to watch American Idol each Tuesday on Fox.

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