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Let Him On Survivor!
SFU student Ian MacKenzie is on a quest:
tribal council or bust!

By Amanda McCuaig, Peak staff

The popular reality TV show Survivor will only accept American contestants, but Ian MacKenzie, a fourth-year Communication student at Simon Fraser University, is attempting to change that.

One may wonder why he has decided to attempt this at a time when reality TV is rapidly losing its popularity. Survivor may not be on the air for much longer, but for Ian, trying to get on Survivor has become more of a hobby than a zealous fan’s dream.

I received an email on December 17, 2004 regarding Ian’s endeavor. Amused, I followed the link to the website called “Let Me On Survivor” (www.letmeonsurvivor.com), and found not only entertaining photos of Ian from all over the world, but a site filled with some downright hilarious content.

I was the eighteenth person to sign his petition,and by December 18, there were 127 signatures on it. Within the first month of the website's launch, it had gathered a total of 748 signatures, received between 3500–4000 hits, and had warranted enough attention for Ian to be interviewed by, or featured on, four media outlets, including MTV Canada.

Naturally, that kind of attention warrants even more attention, and so, excited, I lined up an interview to learn more about how this “Let Me On Survivor” broohaha got started.

Surprisingly, Ian is a totally normal guy. He is the kind of critical thinker that the School of Communication at SFU is pleased to create, and he writes extensively on a number of issues regarding the media, social justice, and other aspects of life. Some who know him are surprised at this seemingly hypocritical attempt to get on a reality TV show. In an interview with “Something Cool News” (www.somethingcool.ca) of Port Coquitlam, the interviewer, Fred John, was shocked that Ian would even consider stooping to the low of a reality TV show, especially a show criticised for its manipulative editing and unreality.

“I have nothing but the utmost respect for you and your writing ability,” said John in the interview. “I respect your views and opinions and all that jazz, but LetMeonSurvivor. com? What’s the deal here, bro? Did you have an unfortunate encounter with a stupid tree? What’s the dizz?”Ian has been faced with similar comments from other people.

So what in the world inspired him to pursue this? It all started when his Internet service provider wanted to give him another web domain for only four dollars. Initially, Ian thought having a second web site would be useless, but then he thought, “Hey why don’t I do a Survivor website, because how funny would that be?” Don’t be deceived by the site's sleek look; Ian had the design finished and the content written in only four hours.

His girlfriend wrote up the petition section of the web-site for him. Along with the signatures, the petition includes words of encouragement and demands that Ian be made Prime Minister. Ian intends to present the petition to CBS to inspire them to take him into serious consideration as a contestant.

It’s clear that Ian has a level head on his shoulders. He hopes to appeal to the producers of Survivor, arguing that Canadians make up 10 per cent of the Survivor audience, American advertisers sell the same goods up here, and Canada’s distinct wilderness give us an unfair (but potentially entertaining) advantage.

Ian himself seems more than prepared for the challenges a Survivor contestant would face. “What's 39 days out of a lifetime?” he asks on his website. “No matter if you're starving, cold, bug-bitten and just plain miserable, the sacrifice is nothing compared to what you gain.” On top of that, there are also the perks: Jeff Probst, the chance of being on Oprah, and seeing how Survivor's editors butcher his persona for television.

What would Ian’s TV personality become anyway? Judging from the jokes he makes on his site, I picture him as the easy-going humourous contestant. “There has yet to be a tribe that tamed a resident monkey population to do their bidding,” he says. “What’s the deal with that?”

On his site, he comments that the one personal item he would take with him to the island would be a beaver. “Just kidding,” he writes, “Why would I want to pander to Canadian stereotypes about dog sledding, and beavers? It's time we moved past that. Instead, for my one personal item, I'd bring a toque.” Some equally amusing Canadian petition signers suggested that he pack a hockey stick as well.

Although Ian has prepared his audition tape and is collecting signatures for his personal goal to get on Survivor, it’s not just about him. It’s about bringing some spice back into the game. There have been jokes in his petition about a Canadian vs. American version of Survivor, because it's about time for a twist. To really mix things up, let the hosers in. Who wouldn’t want to see a valley girl from California and a smarmy Vancouverite make an alliance?

But if Ian's goal was partially about getting Canadians in the game, why didn’t he name it “Let Canadians On Survivor?” By making it more personal, and more of a ‘human interest’ story, Ian figured he would attract more attention. So instead of a general vote for Canada, it would be more like a vote for “some crazy guy trying to get on Survivor.” Plus, it is hard to interview about a cause if there's no spokesperson.

For Ian, it's not about pandering to fanatical Survivor love, it's about a once in a lifetime opportunity to be put in a living situation unlike any other and see behind the scenes of a television aesthetic that has dominated the airwaves for several years.

He's more than aware of how things may ‘really’ be. “If you actually believe that its reality you’re living in denial,” he says. Meanwhile, his new project continues to draw attention, his site continues to rack up hits and signatures, and hopefully someday soon, CBS will take notice. The site is worth five minutes of your time even if you're against signing the petition. Many people have felt that Ian's amazing rendition of the Survivor theme song alone is worth the signature.