Rather than a triumph for increased gender respect it could be a symptom of a greater social problem: the replacement of sturdy realistic romantic love that might last a lifetime with the flimsy bedazzled imposter with the shelf life of a loaf of Wonder Bread. There are many lucrative business reasons for the pimping out of unrealistic romantic love in American popular culture, but the plastic face of it is the trendy Bachelor and Bachelorette franchise. As entertaining as these shows are (and they really are compelling fun), there is an insidious darkness beneath the fairytale pabulum they are serving up.Compelling fun, in the same sense that going to the demolition derby is compelling fun. And Mr Abdul-Jabbar sounds all the proper themes, as approved by the set of Deep Thinkers for whom lookism is a thoughtcrime.
The shows’ mantra repeated by most castmembers that “everyone deserves love” ain’t necessarily so. You’re not even in the running for love unless you fit a very narrow ideal of Ken and Barbie doll physical beauty. These shows promote the scorched-earth effects of raising females to be continually judged physically above all other attributes and then measured against impossible physical standards that has marginalized a majority of girls and women — and made billions for the beauty products, clothing, and cosmetic surgery industries. Even youthful Amanda Stanton, 26, admits to using Botox.Well, yes, it sucks to be any kind of a thinker or to exercise any kind of restraint, when it's the superficial that goes on display in prime time, even if the contestants aren't ready.
The real crime is the lack of intellectual and appearance diversity, which leaves the contestants as interchangeable as the Mr. Potato Head parts. The lack of racial diversity has already been commented on.
But equally harmful as the cartoonish physical and mental restrictions has been the romanticizing of love as a mystical process that creates unrealistic expectations. Worse, they encourage an urgency to falling in love or else being kicked off the show and labeled a loser in society, unworthy of love. This can send a message that those not in a relationship need to hurry up and find someone — anyone — or else face an unforgiving expiration date of love worthiness.Pajamas Media's Lauren Spagnoletti also goes full social-construction on the reality shows.
The cruel result is people on these shows are so anxious to be in a relationship that they trick themselves into thinking they’re in love. Contestants on these relationship game shows are competing for a prize, the same as contestants on The Price Is Right. But is that prize love or a relationship? There’s a significant difference and that difference contributes to why America has high divorce (53%) and adultery (30%) rates. From observing the three most recent incarnations of this show — The Bachelor (Ben Higgins), The Bachelorette (JoJo Fletcher) and Bachelor in Paradise—it’s clear that being in a relationship is the goal. Love is the word they use to justify their need and to disguise their choices because no one is permitted to question their convoluted decisions and self-deceptions when the word love is used.
Maybe shining a spotlight on this reality show is unfair. It's just television, right? It's simply entertainment. But we live in a world that idealizes the images that surround us. We see young girls trying to attain the beauty standards of the models they see in advertisements by developing dangerous eating habits and unhealthy body images. Younger generations are turning to their idols in television and film to learn how to go about their lives. "Entertainment" quickly becomes something with a lot more weight to it.Let's add even more weight. Thirty years ago, a Badger Herald editorial suggested the relationship carroussel worked out well only for the people attractive, superficial, or nasty enough to screen for reality television.
Today the only victors in the sexual revolution are those men and women who are good-looking and clever enough to enjoy multiple partners with a minimum of emotional and financial commitment. The dowdy and the not-so-clever (or not-so-unscrupulous) are used by the well-endowed and find loneliness and frustration where, in a previous generation, they would probably have been able to start families.It's come to the pass where even the good looking, superficially clever, and unscrupulous become exemplars as if in a morality play, and even people for whom the new dispensation appears to provide a favorable correlation of forces are having second thoughts.
Perhaps in two thousand years some of the institutions that emerged, until the Deep Thinkers saw fit to deconstruct them, conferred evolutionary advantages.