HitFix Interview: Shannon Elkins talks 'Survivor: Nicaragua'
Sexist and homophobic or just misunderstood? Shannon tries to explain
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It's usually pretty easy to forget the first couple contestants eliminated from "Survivor."
Shannon Elkins, second contestant booted from "Survivor: Nicaragua" is unlikely to be forgotten, at least for a while.
It's uncommon for a contestant to earn so much fan ire in such a short period of time, but Shannon had viewers accusing him of misogyny after the premiere, when he attempted to bond with Chase for the sole purpose of preventing another female winner, and then he made accusations of homophobia pretty easy after a strange Tribal Council confrontation with Sash during this Wednesday's (Sept. 22) episode.
I caught up with Shannon on Thursday morning and the Louisiana native wasn't quite contrite about what went down on his last night in the game, though he offered some measure of apology, while also attempting to put his comments, about both women and homosexuals, in context. Whether you buy his reasoning -- the beauty of keeping these interviews in Q&A form is that these are his words and you can make your own calls --- it's hard to deny that Shannon is a candid guy who doesn't see the point in holding back on his opinions.
Shannon's exit interview after the break... Note that Shannon's language is occasionally "colorful."
HitFix: So? You watch last night's episode?
Shannon Elkins: Yeah, I watched a little bit of it. Not the whole... Nah, I'm lying. Yeah, I watched it. Mark Burnett did a good job.
HitFix: Tell me what you mean by that...
SE: Well, I wish he'd have played the little gay question a little differently, because that's not how it went down, but I you know, I've gott live with it. There's nothing I can do about it now.
HitFix: Well OK. Give me your side, then.
SE: I'mma tell you how the gay thing came up. I didn't have to ask Sash if he was gay. I didn't really give a damn if he was gay. It's his preference. He can do whatever he wants with his life. Who am I to judge, know what I'm saying? I was only trying to prove that the guy was lying. I'd already proved that Chase was a liar and he didn't know where he was at. He thought he was on "The Bachelor" and we were handing the roses that night for Brenda.
But Sash, I just wanted to prove that he was a liar. I thought he was a certain person. Did I think he was gay? Yeah, I thought he might have been gay. It wasn't a big deal to me. What I was saying was, because I had the observation of him, I felt he was lying to be about it, so he kept on and on and on on my ass about lying. You saw me. I asked everybody. "Did I lie to you?" "Do you not trust me?" Nobody could answer. I don't know if it was because they were scared out of their minds, or I didn't lie to anybody. Like I've said before, Alina was the best one to stand up and take my side, because she was playing both sides. She told me. She said, "Shannon, I'm going to play the other side to find out what's going on." But she knew everybody was lying and lying to everybody and she knew I was the only one being straight-forward. So Sash kept calling me and finally I had enough and I said, "Look dude. I'm lying to you cuz you're lied me." He said, "When did I lie to you?" I said, "When you told me you were gay." And that's how it really went down. If you really look at the show and see the edits, the audio whenever I said, "Are you gay?" I didn't have to ask that guy if he was gay, I already had that perception of him. I didn't need to ask him. You know? How stupid is that?
You know, Mark Burnett did what he had to do to make up some good TV and he did.
HitFix: In retrospect, seeing how it played out, do you understand why some people were offended by that?
SE: I didn't bash any gays, Dan. What I did was, I called a guy out for not being a straight shooter and being a liar. What I am guilt of and what I'll apologize for all day, I stereotyped. Know what I'm saying? I stereotyped this guy, whereas he probably stereotyped me as being a hillbilly from Louisiana, I rides my frickin' boat to work and I work in a swamp. They didn't say it, because they don't have the sack to do it.
It had been six days, dude. I felt like a bird had shit in my mouth, I hadn't brushed my teeth for so long. I was hungry. The guy was calling me out. It was either punch him in the face or just call him out to show him that he was a liar. So I just called the kid out, man. I had no bitterness and no hard feelings towards anybody. I really don't care if he does or not. I didn't bash anybody. I can see how people want to take it a certain way, but what about what he said about his minority alliance? What kind of bullshit is that? But it's all good. I don't regret anything. Again, I do regret stereotyping, but I don't regret anyway I played the game or any way I went about it.
HitFix: But even at the time, you could see that Jeff Probst was shocked by what you said. At that point did you think, "Hmmm... Maybe I should backtrack a little bit"?
SE: Uh-uh. Jeff Probst was frickin' loving it. He can say whatever he wants. We walked into that Tribal and he asked me that question, it didn't take me long to lay the law down on Chase on what happened. They kind of prolonged it a little bit, I think, but I just went right after him. I mean, let's go straight to it. I'm not the person to beat around the bush. Just go into it. Let's get this problem solved and be done with it. And that's how I was going, because I knew I was going home. I knew that. Alina looked at me before we even walked in. It was 5-5 and I was so pissed off, because for six days, I was listening to Chase's bullshit about him being a country music singer and he has to uphold his image to be honorable and respect loyalty and all this crap and his sob story. I've been listneing to that and all of a sudden the guy changes the vote when he really shouldn't have, after we leave for Tribal Council he changes his vote on the damn way. I'm like, "Dude, really? Your honor and loyalty and telling me all this and now you're doing this?" That's what pissed me off. I went out there and I really didn't bullshit anybody. I know it is "Survivor" and yes, I've watched "Survivor" before and I know it happens all the time, but when you listen to that sob shit for six days, bro. I mean... That's what I went that route.
HitFix: You say no regrets, but wasn't your early alliance with Chase a mistake?
SE: No, I got to Chase the first day we were out there within 10 minutes. But what happened was, remember, the dude didn't know where we were. He thought we were on "The Bachelor," OK? He fell in love with Brenda. I was like, "Dude, this ain't 'The Bachelor.' It's 'Survivor.' There are no roses when we go to Tribal Council. OK? She's still gonna like you whenever we get off. Alright?" I'm like, "If that's the case and y'all love each other, it's gonna work out. Set something free, it's gonna come back to you." But, I caught him as early as I could, because I wanted to align with the Alpha Male. I saw Russell and Rob fight each other and all that stress and sissy girl high school crap that they went through fighting each other for no reason. They could have run that whole show together. That's what I wanted to do with the other Alpha Male on my tribe. I didn't know that Brenda was the real Alpha Male, because she had his balls.
HitFix: You brought this up early on... Why do you think it's become so hard for a man to win on "Survivor"?
SE: Because, man... I went into it and it may have been easy for me, because I'm married. I'm not ou there lookin' for frickin' love. Everybody goes out there and they're single and they're half-dressed and all that crap. That's part of why it's hard. Because look at Parvati. Dude, she was OWNING dudes. It's a woman's game now. It's not about keeping keeping your tribe strong and bringing the strongest, fittest to the end now. It's about the biggest move now. And these women, they're good, dude. You know how it is. If you're married, if you're got a girlfriend, if she ain't happy at home, the whole crap is miserable. You've gotta please the woman or you're gonna be in for a rough time, so that's why I think that women... They got us. They got our number, dude. Congratulations.
HitFix: Russell came out of both of his two seasons insisting that something was wrong with the game itself, not with the way he played it. Do you agree?
SE: Man, Russell's just crying. Lemme tell you something. There's nothing wrong with the game. There's nothing wrong with "Survivor." The only thing I feel was wrong with this season is that they put a grown-up with a bunch young kids. That's not who am. I'm a grown-up. I've been married since I was 19. If they'd have put me with the older tribe, it probably would have been a different story, but who cares? It's over with and it's done.
If I'd have been on the jury and Brenda was the one who got me out, I'm voting for Brenda. Look what everybody did. Russell beat everybody in Samoa. He whipped all of them. Those people gave the money, how stupid, to Natalie. So guess what? They lost to the worst player. Russell was the best player hands down. Nothing against Natalie. Congratulations, you're a million dollars richer, but she wasn't playing the game like Russell was. She was coattailing. I know a lot of people are gonna be pissed off on Survivor Sucks about this, but she was coattailing. I'm not gonna vote for her, because I'd be like, "Dude. Russell beat me, not her. I'm givin' the money to Russell. I wanna lose to the best." So I hope Brenda wins, because she beat me.
HitFix: Oh, but come on. If you know the way the game is played, why did you think you could change the rules by aligning with Chase so early?
SE: Well, I thought that for once, two Alpha Males could get together and kinda roll over. But I really wasn't expecting to lose to the older tribe, really, to be honest with you. I think what shook us up was the NaOnka Fabio conflict we had before, when Fabio started crying because he didn't have the balls to take his frickin' socks back from a girl. But nah, NaOnka ain't no regular girl. She probably would have whipped Fabio. But that's where it all started, where it all went down. When we did that first challenge, dude you could see us, we were all buck and pumped up and everything and we were all high-fiving and we were happy and we ate rice when we got back. It was all gravy. And we were getting ready for the next one and we were all pumped and then that crap went down. I'm serious, it was like 30 seconds before we were ready to go to the next challenge and then that crap went down. And it was like going into a basketball game and two of your teammates get into a fight and now we've gotta play together. It sets a mark whenever you go into a challenge.
HitFix: You said you don't want to speculate, but in your exit interview, you said you felt like you'd been put with the wrong tribe. How do you think it would have gone differently if you'd been with the older tribe?
SE: Look, when we first got out there, before Jeff separated us by age, I was pumped about our tribe. We were looking good. I had Jimmy. I had Alina, Brenda, Chase, a few of the strong guys. I was really pumped up. It looked good. And all of a sudden they take it away from us and I knew immediately. I was like, "Damn. I'm with these kids. There's no way they're gonna keep me around." I just knew it. The difference is that... Remember, married at 19. I didn't have anybody my own age that I could hang out with. I'm hanging out with grown-ups at that age, so my age acceleration was really fast. If you were here right now, you'd see my gray hairs on the side of my head. I've lived a fast first 30 years. So I think I communicate better with older, wiser people because I'm more on their level. I'm not a 20-year-old guy coming out here and trying to get a modeling contract.
HitFix: Also in your exit interview, you said you'd be rooting for the old tribe. Is that true? Do you think they have an advantage going forward?
SE: I'm rooting for the tribe in-whole. Of course, I was just giving them some shit because they sent me home, of course I'm gonna say that. But like I said, I'm a competitor. If I'm gonna lose, damnit I wanna lose to the winner. So I'm pullin' for Brenda to win and for the rest of them to just fall.
HitFix: Have you gotten a sense yet of how people have been reacting to how you appeared on the show?
SE: Look, Dan, as far as that, I'm looking at my Facebook and of course everybody on my Facebook are my friends, so of course they're not gonna say too much bad crap, but I guess you could tell me better than I can. I haven't even been on the Internet... I don't know what's going on out there, but yeah, I'm gonna get a bad rap. That's OK, because I stereotyped and hey, they can bring it however they want it. But really, all in all, I'm not a homophobe, I'm not a sexist. I'm a good dude from The South and I just say some crazy shit sometimes.
HitFix: But you have to figure if they did another Heroes vs. Villains season, you'd be on the Villains tribe?
SE: Man, let me tell you something. CBS ain't got the balls to put me on another frickin' TV show. They're too scared me, my brother. There's too much controversy. They don't want that. But if they do? Yeah, bring it. We'll see what happens. They're not gonna do another Heroes vs. Villains, but if they do? I'd be really surprised if I got a phone call.
HitFix: Do you feel like you got out of the "Survivor" experience what you wanted to get out of it?
SE: Let me tell you something, Dan. I'd never been camping a day in my life, my brother. That was the first time I had rice. Alright? My picky-ass eating? All I eat is chicken and beef, my brother. So I was out there doing that. One day camping was like, "I won!" After the first day, I was like, "I'm the champion!" Know what I'm saying? I'd never been camping in my life and that was the longest I'd been doing anything. After the second day, I stunk so bad and I was like, "Let's do it! I'm down!" If you ask anybody who knows me, they'd be like, "No way they put your sorry ass on 'Survivor.'" It was a pretty neat experience. I got a lot out of it. It makes you appreciate life and what you have here in the States. It was a neat experience.
The full season of "Survivor: Nicaragua" Exit Interviews: