Friday, January 16, 2015

The really weird thing about The Bachelor is that it isn't nearly as weird as Willa Paskin wants it to be

I've never seen The Bachelor. I've never seen any reality TV show.

In any case, I'm taking Willa Paskin's account of the show as accurate.

The odd thing about her account is not what she finds odd but the many things that she doesn't find odd. Check out the sentence I've emphasized in this paragraph:

Typically, The Bachelor’s resemblance to an unusually public escort service is kept under wraps until late in the season, when the bachelor has narrowed the field down to three suitors. They are then invited—or not invited—to spend the night with the bachelor in a “fantasy suite,” an evening in a romantic, usually tropical location where the cameras will finally leave these two people alone to get up to whatever they want to get up to. Having one off-camera sexual encounter with a person who may soon give you a grapefruit-size engagement ring seems like a good idea. But in practice, it means a man has sex with three women, three evenings in a row, and professes his deep and romantic feelings to each one of these women, all of whom are fearful of behaving in a way he might not like. It’s callow, sordid behavior made somehow acceptable by the use of Hallmark Card language and a really fly hotel room.
It's not that I disagree with her, it sounds incredibly sordid. But why does having a sexual encounter with a man who might give you valuable jewellery seem like a good idea? It sounds like being a prostitute to me.
The show assembles a harem of attractive women who attempt to woo one man not just with their charm, but their bodies, their insecurity, and their willingness to suppress any part of their personality that might make them seem difficult—in particular, their innate discomfort that this man is availing himself of numerous other women as he speaks to each of them about feeling a “real connection.” To distract from the ickiness of this setup, The Bachelor plays the prude, only ever speaking of sex in the most coded, vague terms, like a pimp who blushes at the word “vagina” and claims his clientele are just playing cards.
"The show assembles a harem of attractive women"? That leaves something out. It leaves out that there are no end of very attractive women, and men, so desperate for attention and fame that they'd want to be on this show. And simply agreeing to be on the show wouldn't be enough; you'd have to be deeply enthusiastic to make the cut.

In passing, I should note how little Paskin seems to know about pimps. Having met a few when I worked as a bellboy as a teenager, the word "vagina" could only make a pimp blush because he'd be embarrassed at not saying c___, t___, or p____.

Anyway, what Paskin really finds weird is that one of the contestants recently got slut-shamed for having sex too soon in the story. Really.

The reality in this reality show is that contestants—male and female—are all whores. Complaining that there was a little slut shaming as well is a little like complaining that a suicide bomber had poor personal hygiene.

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