ABC’s “The Bachelor” is definitely insipid entertainment but is it also ruinous?
February 16, 2011
My wife and three daughters tried to get me to watch The Bachelor last night. It was Valentine’s Day and they had some leverage. But I couldn’t –nay wouldn’t- do it! So I marched upstairs to my office to smoke a cheap cigar and watch a rerun of River Monsters.
There are just some things a man shouldn’t do and watching The Bachelor is one of them. However, I did catch a few minutes of the show. It was hard not to look at the scene: a harem of comely lasses donning bikinis, sprawled out on an outdoor divan like…like…
Like prostitutes waiting for a john. And indeed they were waiting for a man, the Bachelor. Him. Essentially, He gets to pick one of these hot, hot, hot girls to be His forever. But not before dating the hell out of them.
And that’s what freaks me out about The Bachelor. It is nothing less than a whorehouse lineup of women, all of them hoping and praying to be chosen by Him. They fight over Him. They cry over Him. They preen over Him. My God, you’d think he was the last man on earth! In many ways, these women are worse than garden-variety prostitutes. At least working girls are engaging in a cut and dried trade-off, and one that is physical. You pay them. They have sex with you.
In The Bachelor, the women want his mind, body and soul. They want to marry him and have his baby. And I think that’s more depraved; I really do. To think a TV show can facilitate a union as sacred as marriage fills me with contempt. And it should make you feel the same way.
But it doesn’t. The Bachelor is hugely popular. And not just with the Jerry Springer crowd. But with millions of women (and men?) who know better. Or do they? Oh, Steffan, my wife says, it’s just escapist fun. You have football. We have this. She tells me that everyone gets how silly it is. Good, clean fun for schoolgirls, career women and housewives.
But I don’t think my 8-year old daughter grasps cheesiness and ‘camp’ just yet. She sees beautiful women vying for the attention of one man: Him. What if, God forbid, she thinks that that’s how life works? That sugar and spice –especially spice- gets the boy. And that getting the boy is critical.
From Cinderella to The Bachelor my daughters must suppose that men are Princes and Knights. Prizes if they’re lucky and perfect enough to win them. And what are they to make of their own kind? Best-case women are objects of desire; worst case prostitutes.
Hey, I’m not some TV-hating liberal; I’m in advertising for Christ’s sake! I know a thing or to about creating stereotypes and false hopes. Yet, even I know better than to draw up one-dimensional female characters hopelessly drawn to a husband. To me The Bachelor is weirdly and wrongly old-fashioned. It portrays modern women as fawning idiots and men as their great saviors. Frankly, this is why I’ve always had a problem with Disney cartoons. But I held my tongue because of the glorious animation and the history. Besides, Cinderella and Snow White fable. Make-believe. Though staged, The Bachelor is a real contest with real women. The winner lives happily ever after. The losers get sent back to reality crying in a limo.