Survivor and John Cochran: A Nerd I Can Root For (And Maybe Even Have A Wee Crush On)

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John Cochran
Survivor contestant: John Cochran. Image courtesy of CBS

First, a little bit of a warning: There may be spoilers in this post. If you have yet to watch the first episode of Survivor: South Pacific, you may want to wait until you’ve watched it before you read this.

Second, if you are thinking to yourself, “Why on earth would I watch Survivor? That show is so old and tired!”, then read the post, possible spoilers and all. It may just change your mind.

Third, I have my first crush on someone from television who is a real person. And by crush, I don’t mean in the romantic way. By crush, I mean in the adoration of who they are as a person and really wishing I could spend time with them and hang-out with them and be giddy, silly, playful teenagers staying up all hours of the night sharing and giggling with them, sort of way.

Generally, I’m not into reality television. Survivor and So You Think You Can Dance, both US and Canada versions, are it. The reason why I enjoy Survivor is because I like to see how people react under certain conditions. It appeals to the psychologist within me. Yes, there are edits and other things that, as a result, by the time the viewer watches it, it is something quite different than the reality. But there is still enough of the human dynamic and interaction component to keep me enthralled. I also enjoy the fact that they are not exploiting just one section of society, but that it exploits a diverse group of people. The diverseness of the cast of characters helps me to stomach the exploitative nature of the show. Also, the conditions are beyond harsh and, in my mind, the people involved are actually working damn hard to win the million dollars.

I’m not quite sure if this post is going to make a whole lot of sense. I’m having a really difficult time wrapping my head around my current state of euphoria, a state brought on by a television show. I’m finding this crush so extremely bizarre. And to make it even more peculiar, I’m crushing over someone on the television show.

I think a little insight into who I am is in order. I hope by writing this, I don’t come off “bad” or “wrong”.

You see, I’m not a fan person. With the exception of all things Star Trek and a couple other small things, I’m not a fan of things, or people, in the true sense of the word. Meaning, I’m not fanatic. I don’t get all, “OMG! SQUEE! I’M GOING TO EXPLODE!”, when it comes to celebrities. With the exception of two people, I don’t follow any celebrities on Twitter unless I’ve worked with them in some capacity. Yes, I greatly enjoy and appreciate a lot of what is in fandom. Yes, I consume a lot of it. Yes, I get a wee bit nervous before I interview someone on my radio show, but the level of nerves is the same, regardless of their level of celebrity. The nerves and giddy and squee and OMG are the result of an admiration of who they are and not what they do, coupled with an extreme appreciation that people take time out of their busy schedules for my radio show. Yes, I am a geek. But I am more of a nerd and maybe that is where the difference is.

Often, as a result of the above, I feel very alone, even among my group of peers, filled with geeks and nerds. I will be listening to them get extremely excited over this autograph or talking to that person or I’ll see the joy they get at the simple mention of something they geek over, and I feel left out. I’m an outsider even within my own tribe. There are a lot of reasons for this that have to do with the way I’m made, or wired, or however you want to describe it. Those reasons are not important. What is important is that after watching the season premiere of Survivor, I didn’t feel like an outsider!

As soon as Cochran made his first appearance and spoke his first words, I literally SQUEE’D. My nerddar went off in a cacophony of celebration. It was music to my ears. It was the first time that I felt represented as a person on Survivor. Have there been nerds and/or geeks on the show before? Most likely. But it was never as blatantly obvious and none of them stick out in my memory. I cannot think of a single cast member who SCREAMED nerd as a result of simply being present.

Another reason I SQUEE’D is because I didn’t feel as if Cochran was being exploited for being a nerd. He is like-able. He is charming. He is intelligent. He is extremely cute in a quirky, endearing sort of way. I think it helps that he is a ginger. I’ve watched other show where I feel the nerd/geek was cast solely for exploitation of the culture. There is a new reality show coming out called King Of The Nerds that really has me upset and angry. But Cochran is different. He just is a nerd and there is no mistaking it.

I became stupid with giddy when he talked about his translucent skin, skin so translucent you could see his organs underneath of it. I felt is awkwardness in that situation. I was barely able to contain my squee when he used the term “knowledge base”. I may have even done a fist pump when he cracked open a coconut for the first time. From the moment he first appeared on camera, before he even spoke, I was rooting for him. I’ve never had a Survivor favourite so quickly.

You should have heard and seen me when it appeared he was going to be in trouble at Tribal Council. I was getting all ready to tweet, “KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!” had he been voted off. I would have been heartbroken. Tears probably would have been shed. For me, that is really bizarre.

With the exceptions of Wesley Crusher, Sheldon Cooper and Dr Spencer Reid–whom combined, would make for my perfect mate–I’ve not had crushes on any television character. For me, it is easy to accept having a crush on Wesley, Sheldon and Spencer because they are a fictional character. For me to be having the same sense of… glee… maybe?… for someone who is a real, live person and one I’ve never met… well, I’m not sure what to make of it.

Regardless of not being able to wrap my rational brain around it, I am thankful for it. I’m thankful to have a real person to watch on television whom I can cheer and root for. I’m thankful that I feel I have someone real I can relate to, someone who makes me feel less alone and bizarre even within my own tribe, someone who isn’t a fictional character.

Cochran is someone I want the whole world to get behind and support. It is very rare for me to have such a strong, immediate reaction to something. Because of this, I’m going to ask every one to support Cochran, by following him on Twitter @SurvivorCochran and, if you do the Facebook thing, “Like” his Facebook page. Be sure to send him lots of messages of support and stuff.

How extremely awesome would it be if he ends up winning?! The idea of that alone causes me to squee.

If you’ve watched the first episode of Survivor: South Pacific, what did you think? Also, are you too on #TeamCochran?

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