In between my near rabid consumption for all things touched by Arthurian legend, I have been taking a few detours with my guilty pleasure television. All of my faves are on hiatus and with new seasons of Lost and Survivor not due to premiere until next month, I’ve crossed over to some uncharted territory. Vowing never again to watch anything involving dating or with the words ‘Big Brother’ in it, I must’ve been extremely bored or feeling antsy because I did just what I said I never would, I watched the season openers for ABC’s The Bachelor and the UK’s Celebrity Big Brother. The results were predictable and surprising. Since I have a lot to say, I’m breaking this down into a couple of posts. The first focusing on one show and then eventually I’ll get to the other. I warn you, my soapbox is high drama today, so proceed with caution and ease up on the coffee.
The most interesting part about this season’s new ‘Bachelor’ installment is not what you see on the screen but what you read afterward. There seems to be an extreme divide in perception in this post-racial America and now the default meaning of ‘minority’ is exclusively ‘black’ and oh, in case you didn’t know, blacks run this country ( I guess I never got the memo. I thought there was only one President, who happens to be black, in office and he serves ‘the people’ as in all people…well forgive me, I can be daft at times). I’ll elaborate on that later but first here’s a recap:
ABC’s new ‘Bachelor’ Jake Palveka is a reject from last season’s Bachelorette, Jillian Harris. Although I’d never seen that particular season or any in the past four years, the producers did me and others the kind courtesy of recapping the highlights and providing one of the longest introductions to one character I’ve ever seen on any show scripted or reality. Nearly twenty minutes (maybe more) was spent showing us long glimpses of Jake walking shirtless around his bare-bones home simultaneously bragging and lamenting about his great upbringing and lonely life as a commercial airline pilot. Jake sitting on his motorcycle against the backdrop of a beautiful sunset, clad in leather bomber jacket, aviator glasses and a good dose of cheese as an instrumental version of ‘One the wings of love’ serenades in the background. *gags*
After we get this long-winded visual creme puff of a montage ala Jake, the focus is moved to the twenty-five contestants. I am one that hates spoilers but you can pretty much figure out that the few ladies they bothered to give at least a minute of airtime to, were the ones that the season would be focused on. How very droll of you ABC, very droll. The other ladies were flashes in the night, with barely a sentence given to show who they were and what they were about.
And lets not forget the tits and ass shots, because a woman’s assets don’t really rest in what she has going on in her head but what she’s carrying below the neckline. Gotta be fit for all that baby-making a good ole’ texan boy needs to carry on the family name. *double gag*
Finally after what seemed like forever, we get to the big night. Jake’s ready and nervous to meet his cattle call of 25 ladies to which he hopes among them ‘ will be his future wife’.
I’m going to skip names because I can’t remember any of them and frankly speaking, I don’t care to.
After a few limos unload an array of scantily clad or tight-fitted women to saunter over to Jake for a hug, peck on the cheek and for one, an orchestrated stumble, we get to see inside the house. The camera pans around, show the women congregate on posh sofas with champagne flutes in hand while scheming to spend alone time with The Bachelor himself. The cattiness is not far behind.
I don’t take this show too seriously, most of it seems so out of the realm of reality, it’s hard to call it reality television at all. The average person doesn’t usually select their potential life-long mate by plucking one off a conveyor belt adorned with life-sized barbie and ken dolls. They don’t usually base their dating decisions around staged dates with cameras at every angle, watching your every move and producers whispering from the sidelines to look deep into her eyes. I call that acting and so the next part of my observation was interesting to me because for some this is very much reality, the one they wish their lives to be and it goes deeper than that, the one they don’t feel others fit into.
It came about after the clips from the ‘much anticipated’ forthcoming season of the show and a teaser to next week’s episode involving some scandal that has been touted ‘one of the most startling in The Bachelor’s eight year history’. I highly doubt that and if even so, who cares? Some bimbo sleeps with a producer during the show, not exactly riveting. It kind of fits with the assumed M.O of most contestants on this show, who really goes on looking for love? More like an agent.
Anyway, I’m going off track here, after the flash forward clips, my eyes dropped down to the comments section on Hulu, someone mentioned next week’s spoiler, at which time I was unaware of the details, so out of curiosity, I followed the link provided to read the dirt (hey, I’m not above the trash at times). As I’m reading the article, the big scandal was but a flash in the pan however the fruits that this article bore left a bad taste in my mouth, as the conversation shifted to the issue of race, which led me to another article, that asked one question? Why hasn’t ABC bothered to give viewers a minority Bachelor or Bachelorette? To be more accurate, why hasn’t a person of color ever been shown as the woman or man that gets to choose between a starry-eyed mass of beautiful men and women for the chance to be their soul mate?
I felt this was a valid question, not because I was an avid fan of the show or even cared that much about it but because it touts itself as an American show, a fairytale, where successful men and women get to vie for a chance at love, happiness and ever after stability. The imagery is powerful even if trite and manipulated at times. However, what we’ve been given is 8 years of caucasian men and women, some not even American citizens, whom have been thrust onto our television screens as people ‘worthy’ of love and affection. That these are people worthy of mates and to be mated. But what if, at first glance you don’t fit into this narrow vision of what is worthy. The show itself, has given ample example by tossing in a token POC , only to find them unabashedly rejected the first night or shortly thereafter.
As one blogger put it, a beautiful young african-american woman was dismissed one season by The Bachelor for being ‘too startling for him’. Hmm, someone that’s startling to me, I’m going to keep around for a bit. Maybe I’m missing the point or maybe I get it all too well. Obviously, that woman and that Bachelor were never meant to be anything but an insincere halfhearted attempt at diversity. One that insults the viewers intelligence and at the same times speaks volumes of the care and consideration to which the network, sponsors and the producers of this show give to those that don’t fit the default lily-white mold of love they are trying to peddle to the masses.
But the blame cannot be placed only at the feet of network whores and their advertising pimps. It’s our politically correct society at large. The one that says to the people, if you don’t speak it, it doesn’t exist. But it does. And with the advent of the internet, millions of people across America (and around the globe) are spouting off behind the so-called safe confines of computer anonymity. They are saying the things they fear stating in public. The ones they want to say at the bus stop, in the train station or along the aisles of the work office. The things they dare whisper to a colleague at the water cooler, when the new brown-complexioned supervisor walks by, ’cause you know she only got that job due to affirmative action.’
As I browsed the 78 pages of heated comments in response to that one writer questioning The Bachelor’s diversity, I realized that post-racial America is not really post anything. It’s very much stuck in the past and the resentment runs high because the honest truth is that like the false sense of security online anonymity provides, we are living in a cauldron country. One that’s on the brink of bubbling over. It is made of of fear and insincere knee-jerk reactions. It is made up of continued segregation, unhealed wounds and ridiculous defaults that should have been phased out decades ago. It is a place where the definition of minoriity means black and to the default ‘worthy people in this country, no one else exists. Because the hatred for black folks run so deep, that it’s almost acceptable to be disagreeable toward anything that may even hint to the inclusion or exclusion of black Americans.
When a simple question of why hasn’t ABC produced a minority Bachelor and Bachlorette turns into, ‘these damn blacks are always complaining, they have black history month, Obama, HBCU, Oprah and Scholarships, now they want to take our beloved BACHELOR! They want to date our men and women?! Sick! "who wants the skanks on flava of love?’ or ‘Because black men don’t have jobs, so who wants to marry them or Black women are ugly and have attitudes’ You really have to wonder, I mean, are blacks the only ‘minority’ segment in this country? Doesn’t anyone else exists and besides that, why all the venom? If it was a few random nuts, I would’ve laughed but we are talking hundreds of comments, to which, yes, I read each one. 78 pages 9 out of 10 all directed toward the black American populace, I asked myself, if whether the silly ideas put forth in silly froth like The Bachelor should be so readily dismissed.
There is something very powerful in imagery and media. Whether we like to admit it or not, minds are shaped and perceptions are fostered through the tiny screens of our televisions, newspapers, magazines and cinema screens. If Minorities = POC only have such imagery as what is currently seen on the nightly news, and various ‘reality’ programming as representative of their ideals of dating, love and commitment, I think the original question posed by the article writer is long overdue for consideration.
For The Bachelor and shows like it, there is humor to be found in it’s manipulated ridiculousness but there is also a sad reality that goes beyond what the screen projects. It’s in the fact that not only America but around the world, people of color make up the vast majority of earth’s inhabitants and yet our global television market does not reflect that reality. It is not enough to have a smiling picture of our President and his family hanging on our walls because in the lives of everyday people, one family, no matter how excellent and Rockwell-esque can be dismissed as anomalies but you cannot do that with hundreds, thousands and millions.
I say that a media revolution is long overdue. Not a handout from those whom run the ABC’s and NBC’s of the world but a new generation of Media owners that reflect the true nature of the world-society we live in. Revolution never came easily and most times it came by force but usually and almost always for the better.
If certain segments of our population only choose to learn reality through their television screen, then maybe that’s where we should be teaching them. And that reality starts by showing life, not in black and white but in multicolor. One which is vast, deep and intriguing.
The idea of life being seen as a spectrum of experiences and not in monochromatic static lines of good vs evil, white knights versus dark lords may not be what fairytales make but here’s a crazy thought, it may be closer to reality than we think.