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Still a man’s world… Really?

The Bachelor has always bothered me. But last week’s episode took the cake, especially coming one night after the Academy Awards, which, in a matter of hours, became a tipping point for the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. Whereas the Oscars built up female empowerment, leveraging the zeitgeist to considerable acclaim, the very same network brought it all crashing down with a ridiculous and ghoulish season finale of The Bachelor. For those unawares, the bachelor reneges on his proposal of marriage and the shunned woman cries for two hours. It was gross. And he was the least of the reasons why.

 

Here it is. By design, The Bachelor makes women into objects of desire. Nothing more. Yet plenty less. In a very real way, The Bachelor is worse than pornography. At least in porn no one is pretending to a romantic ideal. A show that celebrates romantic love to silly extremes, The Bachelor is as sad an indictment on womanhood as any beauty pageant. Yet women love it. Show me the ratings for The Bachelor and I’ll show you as one-sided a demographic as men and the NFL. The few straight guys that watch The Bachelor vacillate between belittling the women and ogling them. What choice do we have? Without these primitive attractions, the show has no meaning.

 

I tell my daughters that The Bachelor is bad for their soul, that it reinforces ancient stereotypes about women and men. They reply it’s a guilty pleasure, no different than guys watching sports. But it is different. With sports men (and women) do difficult things to achieve valuable things. What exactly do the women on The Bachelor… do? That is besides preening and crying. And to what aim? To be given a freaking rose by some clod! The Bachelor undermines everything women are striving for. Respect. Money. Power. Women deservedly want what men have. But they aren’t going to get there pining over some dude on a reality show.

 

Attracting a man. Fantasizing about true love. Dreaming of their wedding day. White dresses and sugary cakes. Make me a princess! That’s the stereotype our parents grew up with. The Bachelor is a relic from the 1950’s. And it should be treated as such. Yet, it’s a smash hit and primarily with women. Why isn’t its time up?

Author’s Note: Available for copywriting, content creation and creative direction: https://steffanwork.wordpress.com/

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The girls wait for their turn to be happy…

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.

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And so we come to the end. Last Friday Circuit City stopped breathing, bellied up. Everyone saw it coming but still. They’re one of our clients. Correction. They were one of our clients. Short-circuited now. Finished. And just weeks before the demise of analog TV. Ironic, huh? My agency more or less planned for this. We will make out. But what about the 40.000 Circuit City employees?

I know. We’re in a Recession. Maybe only the beginning of one. In the immortal words of Cheech and Chong, things are tough all over. Maybe so but if my foul mood needs a reason the “R” word about covers it. That and below zero temperatures.

Obama’s inauguration should cheer but right now I need to shed some hate. It’s my blog and I’ll cry if I want to. First up, Rod Blagojevich. And not just because he’s a cheat and a liar. We’ve seen those before. It’s his childish defiance and denial. When he quoted Rudyard Kipling in his defense I wanted to punch him in front of his children. Other reasons to loathe him are that bad, football-coach hair and his jerk-ass name. Who names their kid Rod? And here’s a tip. Given the whole world perceives you as a felon do you think it’s wise wearing all black all the time, and a tracksuit no less? You look like the cartoon criminal you undoubtedly are. Stand down, jerk!

Pop music sucks. I can’t think of an effen song younger than my daughter that’s worth 99 cents on I-tunes. Beyonce. Britney. Justin. Every single American Idle contestant. Who are these people? Sex pots with a good shower voice, that’s who. And that’s it. I guarantee no one will ever listen to any of this music five years from now, let alone remember its practitioners. Rock acts like the Fray, Maroon Five and Fallout Boy are so boring I can’t even drum up hatred. Must we rely on warhorses like U2 and REM for quality music?

And can we give the harmonic synthesizers a rest? You know what I’m talking about: that cheesy special effect singer’s use on their vocals. It’s not that I don’t understand the words it’s that the words sound awful. It was lame when Peter Frampton did it a million years ago. Enough. You sound like you’re singing through a kazoo.

There is nothing “real” about reality TV. Hello! There are cameras in the room. It is pro wrestling for girls, gay men and bored housewives. How anyone can relate to assorted booby housewives and has-beens is beyond me. This sort of programming has a slimy My Space veneer. I get why people like it. I just don’t like that people get it. And the shows that pretend a moral conscience? Whether rehabbing houses or junkies, the mock sincerity grates. I suppose some reality programming has conceptual value. Following around crab fisherman in the North Atlantic teaches us about hardship. Thankfully, there are no booty calls. Least liked of the lot: The Bachelor. How can any of these women (and men) look into the camera and claim they are looking for true love? Have any of them no shame? They want fame. Unfortunately, admitting it would diminish the program’s already paltry veneer.

The American auto industry deserves its miserable fate. The combustible fuel engine is so hopelessly last century. It was invented at the turn of the 19th! In less than 20 years we went from calculators and typewriters to computing. In the same span, we evolved music from vinyl to digital. What are cars doing burning fossil fuel? Not only does it pollute the air and cost a fortune; it’s running out! This view has nothing to do with my politics and everything to do with evolving technology and world reality. Besides, there are too many carmakers and too many car lines. If Chrysler went away, other than the loss of jobs, would anybody miss it? The same can be said for Buick. Maybe even Ford.

Finally, I’d like to return serve on all the haters hating big advertising agencies for being…big advertising agencies. Listen. When I started out I wanted to work only for a big advertising agency. I wanted to work on big brands and work with big people. I had big ideas. And I wanted to come up with many more. Of course I wanted the big office one day. That’s the American Dream, isn’t it? Those who don’t make it don’t for many reasons, some fair and some not. Blaming a big agency for personal failure is a cop out. Hating successful people for their success (in good times and bad) is hypocritical.
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Okay, I’m better now. In honor of Martin Luther King’s birthday I’m ready to practice acceptance and tolerance. But first lets put Blago in a Buick and push him off a cliff!