As an educator, I take pride in my ability to completely screw up young people’s lives. Though I would never admit this to the members of a hiring committee, my pedagogical philosophy is guided by the notion that a college professor’s job is to introduce students to ideas or possibilities that move them to reconsider what they want from school or life. Nothing is more rewarding than watching a student question the path that he or she is on. At Indiana University, for example, there was the student who for his entire life had planned on attending law school, but ended up doing a graduate degree in heavy metal studies after taking one of my classes. At Northwestern there are the handful of students who, after taking my class on Survivor and reality TV, have begun to contemplate careers in reality TV production. One of those students is Ali Lasher. Ali was amongst the first group of students to take #RTVF330 in 2012, having earned a spot in the fully enrolled class by sending me an impassioned email describing her nearly life-long love of Survivor. While I haven’t quite succeeded at convincing her to change her major to Radio, TV & Film, I have planted a seed – let’s just call it a “Russell seed” – in her mind that reality TV could be more than just a hobby for her. Last week I sat down with her to discuss my thoughts about Survivor: Caramoan, which debuts tonight at 8/7 central on CBS. A transcript of the interview follows.
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