• Nathan Max

Naked and Republican

Updated: May 26


Photo credit: The Discovery Channel. Jeff Zausch doesn't need your help to succeed on Naked and Afraid...until he does.

I love the TV show Naked and Afraid, which has reached cultural-phenomenon status for good reason.

For the uninitiated, the program takes one man and one woman, strips them of all their clothes, allows them a few survival items -- like a machete, fire starter and pot -- and dumps them into some kind of inhospitable hellhole, where they must survive for three weeks. There are no challenges or prize money. It’s just regular people attempting to stay alive in the jungle or the mountains or the savanna, trying to dodge or eat poisonous snakes and insects and a host of other creatures and critters.

The show has become so popular that producers created an XL version in which contestants try to survive for 40 days. Recently, they even allowed two legendary individuals -- Jeff Zausch and Laura Zerra -- to start the 40-day challenge 20 days early, so they could attempt to complete an unprecedented two months in the jungles of the Philippines.

During this fascinating sociological experiment into human interaction, Zausch and Zerra eventually encountered other contestants who were trying to complete their own 40-day challenges. Ordinarily in these situations, the survivalists will team up, share resources and help each other make it to the end.

But not this time. In a bit of a twist, led by Zausch, the stronger pair decided to go it alone. Instead of working with their counterparts, they pretty much competed against them. Not only that, when they caught food, a precious and generally rare achievement, they whooped it up, cooked their bounty within earshot, and pretty much did everything they could to throw their successes in their starving counterparts’ faces.

Without outright saying it, they were telling the handful of other survivalists, all of whom had teamed up: “What’s mine is mine. Don’t ask me for help, because you’re not getting any. If you need help, then you’re not strong enough and you don’t belong out here, so go fuck yourselves.”

Then, as the challenge progressed toward the end, something unexpected happened. Zausch fell ill. And what happened? All of the heretofore starving individuals who suffered as Zausch was feasting on his catches right in front of them, came together to help him make it to the end.

As I watched this drama unfold, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “isn’t this the most Republican thing ever?”

Here we have an individual who is stronger than his counterparts, offering them zero assistance, saying ‘what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours, when I have everything and you have nothing.’ That is, of course, right up until the moment I need help. Then, suddenly, it’s ‘please help me.’ All of you people who have borne the brunt of my selfishness and cruelty, now I need your assistance. Drop everything for me.

And then? After the dust had settled, seemingly learning nothing from the experience, Zausch was completely unapologetic, writing on his public Facebook page: “I would rather die out there than risk (Laura’s) survival in order to support others who should be responsible for their own.” Mind you, that was written after all the others had helped him when got sick.

A Republican through and through. I will give you nothing, but you need to help me when I’m desperate. Then, after I’ve taken from you, expect nothing in return from me in the future.

These are the people who are running our country during a national crisis. It explains a lot.

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