2.19.2012

The final rose/straw.

Before I start, let me say, I am not judging anyone who watches the Bachelor.  This is the first season that I've actually 'followed' a few consecutive episodes and I've watched enough to know that Courtney is a weasel and Casey B. is adorable, though I do have to say that I won't be finishing.  I watch on hulu in the afternoons when I paint portraits and Remy is napping.  I've wanted to write about this particular show because I feel like yes, I can say, 'it is just entertainment', 'I know it's a joke,' etc... but then why have I thought about it when I'm not watching it?  Why does it bother me like a faint stain on a white shirt?  Why did I feel so embarrassed to tell Carl that I've watched it when he comes home from school? Why does it make me feel so weird?

When I taught Freshmen English, one of the first things I taught my students as they started writing is that a thesis statement must be disputable.  There must be some opposition in what you are saying.  People read to be convinced of what they are not convinced of yet. There is not much point in stating the obvious.  I've wanted to write about the bachelor for a long time now, problem is though, every single thesis statement I've come up with, is unarguable.

The thesis statements I kept coming up with in regards to the Bachelor and the goings on in the show went a little like this:

The Bachelor gives us a false sense of what women really are.  Do any of us doubt that?  I don't think that anyone is fooled into thinking that the Bachelor resembles real, everyday life in really any way.  Unless, we did actually fall in love through a series of ridiculous and expensive dates in which 'we could conquer anything', while our beloved kissed 8 other women.  So, the above thesis statement seemed far too obvious to make anything of.  

Thesis statement two: The Bachelor cheapens love and what falling in love actually entails.  Duh. I don't think I am the only one who would love to see a bachelor episode where Ben and his date are put in a real life situation: kids running around, a sink full of dishes and a half empty container of yogurt and some cheap granola for lunch and just two hours on a Friday night for a 'date'? The more I thought about it, the more I realized that none of us are actually basing any of our actions or decisions or sense of self-worth on this ridiculous circus of a show.  These girls are not enviable, at least as they are as we know them.  We all feel embarrassed/sad for them.

Thesis statement three:  The Bachelor treats and portrays women in a sexist and disrespectful way.  Skiing down San Francisco streets in Bikinis, need I say more?

Thesis statement four:  The Bachelor gives us a false sense about how women treat other women.  This idea comes from something a friend, Lauren commented on after I wrote this post. She talked about the phenomenon that reality TV (in particular) makes us believe that women pit themselves against each other in competition on a regular basis. Aren't we all a little confused about these girls and their behavior?  Are they really like that?  Is it stress?  emotions running high?  It must be, because I can't recall the last time a group of women I was involved with acted like we were in competition this way.  In fact, just the other day, I was doing a cross fit workout with a neighbor friend, she is super in shape and pretty, and I jokingly said, as I did a pathetic pushup, 'don't judge any of my workout.'  She responded so sincerely I keep thinking about the phrase, she said, 'I would never judge you!' and I know she was telling the truth.   Lauren makes a valid and important point about womanhood and how it is portrayed in the media.  I think this article says it better than I could write a whole post about it.

My thesis statements were not working because I was just stating the things all of us are thinking.  A testament to the fact that the show just really has nothing more to offer.  There are no intelligent surprises, no reason to think more than just watch.  It is what it is.

One afternoon, after finishing up an episode, I was feeling so so weird.  I had watched keeping in mind that I wanted to write about it, but I came up with nothing but feeling strange.  I had to get in the sun.  Remy and I hopped on the bike and headed out.  It was the time of day when everything is golden.  We rode to the post office to drop off some packages.  As we locked up the bike, we looked up to a tiny man playing a banjo on the sidewalk.  He wore a thinned out cowboy hat, washed, but stained jeans and his white hair wisped onto his forehead.  Luckily I had a dollar to put into his banjo case so I didn't feel awkward standing there with Remy for a good fifteen minutes.  The man hardly looked up, just kept playing and Remy didn't move a muscle.  As he was playing a song about Daniel in the lion's den, singing with a coppery voice, a crisp chill started to set in on us, and I noticed his hands.  They were white and taut as a perfectly wrapped Christmas package.  His fingernails were worn down from playing and the tips of his thumbs, when they flicked up from the strings, looked worn and rough.  In that moment, I was really really happy.  The Bachelor, or even writing about the bachelor seemed like the stupidest thing on earth.  I realized then that it isn't really a matter of proving, or analyzing or criticizing a dumb reality show, because the fact is, it is not reality.  It faintly resembles a reality that is more glamorous than my own life, but I do not want to live that poorly constructed facade of happiness.   Standing on the sidewalk listening to a man play the banjo outside of the post office seemed very real to me.  It was real.

I guess then, after all my efforts to say something intelligent or new about the Bachelor and its effects on society and women, I have nothing to say, except that it is not real.  Maybe some inkling about it is, and I wish the best for those girls on the show, but what really, could we say?  There things that are real, and there are things that are not.  The beauty is that we get to choose the real things.  There is a lot of good in the world, we should be careful not to miss it.

Photos by Yan Photo.


Photos by Yan.

8 comments:

Rachel Hunt said...

You are real.

Ani said...

Thank you Ash. I love this post.

Emily Frame said...

I think you finally found your thesis statement.
We spend so much time escaping to these poorly constructed facades of happiness I hope it's not causing us to miss out on the good, real, happy stuff.

Loved this post, as I do them all!

The Wigginton Family said...

Um, beautiful. The post, the moment outside and you!

Becca Lee said...

I loved this post, Ashley. I keep thinking of this as Leo gets older/more aware. It's great to explore and experience, and this post reminded me of that.

joojierose said...

dear ashmae! this is the best post i've ever read about the fruitlessness of "reality" tv and the constant seeking after distraction... what are we distracting ourselves from? real life and truth is more gorgeous and amazing than we ever give it credit for, but are we all just that afraid of feeling deeply? anyway. you're wonderful. and your baby is adorable. and say hi to carl! beijos, julianne.

Cherie Farnes and Chris Foster said...

Does this mean you're seriously not going to watch the hometown visits??? I don't have that kind of will power.

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