Tuesday, January 5, 2010

OMG(osh), like, wow.

Last night I should have been reading Polybius or tackling some 10th grade Geometry. After all, school starts next week.

Instead, as my husband wrote his dissertation, I watched an hour of the Bachelor.

And my soul hurts.

At one point, Todd looked up and noted, "Your mouth is hanging open. I'd shut it." I tried, but really.

For those of you who have remained pure, it's a reality show. One guy ("Jake") holes himself up in the life of luxury (mansions, yachts, private jets) for 15 weeks with a diminishing number of beautiful women (ages 23-32). He gradually weeds them out until One remains: The One. Then he proposes and they live ... As he told the host, "I have this feeling! In my perfectly-toned stomach! That SHE is in that room! She's the One!"

This was the season premier, so I avoided the heavy kissing (et alia) sessions. But the hour consisted of Jake standing at the door to the mansion as five limousines each loaded with five women in evening dress pull up. Each girl has about 30 seconds when she gets out to introduce herself and "make an impression." One girl tripped and fell against the beaming Jake. Another walked up and stuck her hand on his stomach, "I just had to feel these rock-solid abs!" A third felt his arms and asked, "Are these guns registered?"

Hi, Dad!!! I'm on TV!

The camera would intermittently cut to the rapidly-filling-up-with-competing-females parlor. The girls would ooh and aah together over how hot Jake is in person: "I just wanted to rip his clothes off!"

You get the picture.

It would have made an amusing screen-play with an odd premise. Sort of bringing back the harem concept from The King and I for modern women. Except these women had a choice about it. To a certain extent, these are real people playing around with their bodies and their happiness.

I hardly know where to start the commentary, but here were a few points.

1. No wonder people are down on pursuing marriage. If this is a hit show (watched by a couple million people weekly, let's say), then the meat market these women and Jake are participating in degrades both sexes. The man is reduced to this piece of rock-hard abs, hanging out in a life of absolute luxury, and weighing his preferences: blond or brunette? yacht or plane? smart or ditzy? He has no need to win a woman's love, because--heck!--they all want him. The women are reduced to their looks (no "More To Love" contestants here), their willingness to exhibit themselves, and must become the pursuers in order to win the prize. If that is the dating game, forget it.

2. But stranger situations have produced marriages that work. True, but the problem with this show is that these people are professedly seeking to commit their entire lives--the everyday as well as the extraordinary--to one person. "Getting to know" your future spouse can't just be about a fake Hollywood mansion, fake dates, set-up and scheduled make-out sessions, and carefully crafted social situations. Why? Because real life is not like that. To prepare for real life with someone, try living real life with that someone for a while.

3. Well, it's sort of like arranged marriages. No. Arranged marriages are made by the parents of the man and woman, who know their children and--hopefully--have their best interests in mind. They share certain values--beyond piloting airplanes or a passions for football--that will hopefully give the arranged couple a leg up. And usually, in cultures supporting arranged marriage, I believe the woman remains fully clothed at least up to a certain point.

4. Where's the FOCUS form? Or at least an eHarmony questionnaire? There was absolutely no mention of what sort of process these women went through to reach the Big Meeting with Jake. I have my own issues with "Find Your Perfect Partner" surveys, but they're better than nothing. There really are some basic issues on which future spouses should be compatible. Nothing is impossible with God, but it sure helps grace if nature does its part. Finances, living space, cleanliness, and most importantly having and raising children--these are things that must be talked through. I'm not hopeful that The Bachelor will be bringing up household chores on that beach.

But maybe I'm wrong.


There's so much more to say, but sometimes we just sigh and pray.


Karyn said...

I guess this show has been around for awhile. Do they ever mention how the other marriages turned out? I would be so sad to see my son or daughter on such a show...

Young Mom said...

I saw one bachelor show awhile back where the guy was so freaked out by the finale (because he was in love with both finalists) that he wouldn't propose to either one! So I guess he continued being a bachelor.

KimP said...

Amen! I can't watch reality shows because I am mortally embarrassed for the "contestants". I am mostly concerned that younger people watching these shows will believe this is real life, and the values (or lack thereof) of the participants demonstrate the norm -how we should live. Ick!

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

I watch very little television. Now I know why!

CM said...

You're right! Not one thing about this show gives true value to marriage.

Mary Ellen said...

My cousin was a contestant on The Bachlorette one season - the only time I've ever watched a reality show. And, yes, my soul hurt the entire time I watched that wretched show. I kept hoping he'd get kicked off so I could stop watching it, but I couldn't bear the thought of not being able to rehash each episode with my sister the next day, so I watched every horrible minute until The Bachelorette - finally, blessedly - booted him.

Just to draw the curtain back a little for you, my cousin isn't just some guy who wanted to find Mrs. Right and wound up on a show. He was an aspiring actor/model looking to up his profile. It worked for a little while, but now he's back to being just like everyone else (thanks be to God). These shows are not "real" in any meaningful sense of the word, and I think few of the people who participate are really interested at all in marriage. It's just another venue for the ever-increasing pool of narcissists to get their moment in the sun.

Jessica said...

YOu are right, there is just so much to say . . . I can't stomach it, but I am amazed at how many people- intelligent, Christian women- watch that show!!! Unbearable on so many levels!

KimP said...

Mary Ellen, I believe you are right; these shows are just an opportunity for the "contestants" a/k/a narcissists to say "look at me!". Fame is all; virtue is nothing.