CBS censors are breathing a sigh of relief, as they’ll no longer need to pixelate naked bodies on “Survivor.” The grandfather of all reality TV shows recently celebrated its 40th season by staging a red carpet premiere at ArcLight Hollywood, which is where Jeff Probst confirmed nudity has been nixed. “Today it wouldn’t get past our producers for half of a second,” he declared in reference to the #MeToo era surrounding sexual harassment. “Survivor: Winners at War” premieres Wednesday, February 12.
Of course, the most outrageously naked contestant of all time was Richard Hatch, winner of Season 1 (“Borneo”) and controversial figure in Season 8 (“All-Stars”). Richard proudly walked around naked throughout that first cycle, which at the time was laughed off by his fellow contestants — remember, this was two decades ago when the culture was radically different.
“It speaks to the fact that ‘Survivor’ is always of the moment because it’s fresh,” Probst stated. “Not withstanding returning players, you typically have new people playing and whatever is happening in the culture is what’s happening. No one thought anything in that first season, other than it was not that attractive to look at. But we didn’t think anything about it.”
When Richard returned for another shot in “All-Stars,” he infamously rubbed his naked body against Sue Hawk during a challenge. At the time Probst scolded him by saying, “Guys, come on. No one cares about that stuff.” But Sue couldn’t get that moment out of her head. She ended up feeling so “violated, humiliated, dehumanized and totally spent” that she quit the competition.
The Richard/Sue story came back into the spotlight last season when “Island of the Idols” contestant Dan Spilo was removed from the game due to an off-camera “incident.” While Dan didn’t go naked on the show, his constant touching of other castaways, including most notably Kellee Kim, dominated the final episodes for all the wrong reasons. Probst only briefly addressed the controversy at Monday’s red carpet premiere, suggesting it would need to have “its own Q&A.”
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