A few months ago I happened to steal a glance at faux-reality show The Bachelor. At the time I had my Kierkegaard book tucked under my arm ready for a pleasant evenings writing, when I overheard the TV in the other room. One of the contestants was complaining about so-and-so being ‘like, a total bitch,’ and the other one was complaining that she was not a bitch and that the first one was the real bitch. The first one thought this was wrong and affirmed that the second one was still a bitch. And so it went on ad infinitum (or so it seemed). Tragically amused, I thought I might just duck in for a few moments and see what the moral outcry was all about.
It turned out to be nothing significant. Distilling the conflict down to its actual cause, one of the contestants was jealous that they hadn’t yet been on a date with whatever the actual Bachelor’s name is (let’s just call him ‘Beige’), whilst one of the other girls (the one named ‘Bitch’) had already been on two dates. How unfair! What a gross miscarriage of justice that Beige had chosen to share his, um, love with such indiscretion! But this was not about missing out a chance to cultivate a love, mind you. On the contrary, missing out on a date with Beige was simply a lost opportunity for ongoing self-promotion and indulgence, which is of course the whole point of this show.
As with most things in the media these days, the absurdity of the proceedings really hit me hard. The utterly cynical producers of the show clearly think that the majority of the viewing public are stupid, and in this I suppose they are probably right. The way in which The Bachelor’s participants are manipulated with alcohol, isolation and conflict is so transparently disrespectful that I can’t help but feel that Channel 10’s network bosses actually hate humanity.
Then there is the decision-making processes of the participants themselves, which really do reveal the sheer narcissism, blandness and emptiness that mark our age. There is nothing natural about either the contestants or the bachelor seeking to find genuine love on a reality TV show. Everyone knows it’s all bullshit, but we all play along, lost in the scripted drama of it. The motivation for Beige is to have his ego stroked by a room full of (allegedly) beautiful Women. Pure and simple. The way Osher and Beige brace each other before a rose ceremony is clearly meant to evoke a feeling that our poor Bachelor has an epoch making ethical decision to make, when in reality it is just another scripted decision that is entirely based on the superficial needs of the male ego. And as for the Women themselves, I can only conclude that feminism is well and truly dead, and that is all I can really think of to say about them that I am willing to write here.
I conclude with a question: What is it about people that seems to intrinsically enjoy watching this sort of detritus? I just can’t figure it out. But here’s the thing: I am here annoyed enough to actually sit down and be bothered writing about it. I, too, am a victim it seems. This insidious form of entertainment is a very sad reflection of what we value in this day and age, and I am inclined to think that the only way to combat it is to switch off and actively resist it and other shows like it. So, after the Bachelor’s endless midi keyboard orchestra hits and resting bitch face looks, I decided to take my Special K book into the other room and do something meaningful with my mind. Final score: Me: 1, Reality TV: 0.