Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Whiteness of TV Courtship

The Whiteness of TV Courtship

Juan Pablo Galavis is the only Bachelor of Color in the Bachelor series

Caila Quinn was considered for the Bachlorette franchise but was rejected in favor of 
Joelle "JoJo" Fletcher

Joelle "JoJo" Fletcher is the face of the new Bachlorette

It has been coming up in the news recently regarding the last bastion of racism/classism:  TV Dating shows, particularly the Bachelor and the Bachelorette shows. Ms. Meredith Blake of the Los Angeles Times discuss this sensitive topic on race/ethnicity and courtship on both The Bachelor and The Bachlorette shows. 
A handsome, fair-haired man waits expectantly outside a palatial mansion as a horse-drawn carriage pulls up the drive. A beautiful young brunette in a floor-length gown emerges playing the violin, then pauses to introduce herself: "Hi, I'm Shamiqua."
Suddenly a producer interrupts: "Cut! Cut! Cut!" Shamiqua, she explains, does not have "wife potential." The problem: She's black.
"It is not my fault that America's racist, people," the producer proclaims.
Yeah, the centuries-old racist ideology of Black women not being suitable wife material dating from slavery onward to Jim Crow to recent stereotyping and racial backlash.  Why do you think antimiscegenation laws existed until 1967 when U.S. Supreme Court struck down those hateful laws in the Loving v. Virginia.  Witness how White Conservatives and Liberals trash Michelle Obama, Beyonce, Charlaine DeBlasio, Jada Pinkett,  Ayesha Curry, etc., for being and maintaining successful marriages.  It seems to me that people and the mainstream media are jealous of Black women and their relationships.  Could it be why the media tried so hard to push the unloving, demanding single Black woman narrative of the past 10 years?  Could it be that they push unflattering stereotypes of Black women in reality shows such as the Housewives of Atlanta, Basketball Wives, etc?
The scene is from the Lifetime series "UnREAL," which follows the backstage drama at a fictional dating competition show called "Everlasting." Last week, a similar shade of reality invaded the carefully constructed fantasy of "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette," the long-running ABC reality franchise that inspired "UnREAL."
Recent comments made by Fleiss on Twitter seem to undermine this claim. Fleiss tweeted March 5 that the identity of the new bachelorette would be revealed via the social media platform, adding in a subsequent tweet, "After 5 years of BBQ chicken as our Night One dinner, I'm thinking of mixing things up this year. Maybe a little Thai food ... Yum!"
Objectifying women with food references is bad, but when it is mixed with race and ethnicity, that's not cool.  The producers know better than that.

Some saw the tweet as an indelicate metaphor about the ethnicity of the new bachelorette, an impression strengthened by this update, which arrived two days after Fletcher was announced as the new bachelorette: "I chickened out and went with BBQ chicken. If it ain't broke ... #Bachelorette."
Many have argued that Fleiss and his colleagues care only about ratings and worry that an interracial romance would alienate less-tolerant viewers — this despite a profusion of mixed-race couples on hits including ABC's "Scandal" and AMC's "The Walking Dead." Furthermore, the success of shows such as "Empire" and "The Wiz" has shown that inclusiveness can also be good for the bottom line.
That's a cop-out and they know it.  Mainstream media and its masses do not want to see a successful interracial romance, whether be between White and People of Color or among People of Color, i.e. Black and Asian, Hispanic and Asian, Middle Eastern and Black, American Indian and Latino, etc.  Heck, it barely show Black couples together loving each other instead of fighting and having meaningless relationships.
It could simply be that producers are reluctant to spoil the gauzy fantasy of a fireside couple's massage with a probing discussion of racial difference — a circumstance rarely acknowledged in the artificially post-racial universe of the shows, argues Rachel Dubrofsky, an associate professor at the University of South Florida. "The assumption is that a woman of color can as easily date a white man as a man of color, as if race is nonexistent. This does not effectively address issues of diversity and the real, lived ways in which people are impacted by racial difference."
Please don't even try to deny that the show doesn't reflect real life.  America is much more polarized than ever.  Racial, ethnic, and class segregation has increased in the last 10 years.  The Tea Party and corporatist/wealthy wing of the Republican and Democratic parties have promoted racial divisiveness leading to the rise of Donald Trump.  Recent studies have revealed that nonblack men who proclaim colorblind ideology are far less likely to date/marry/have families with Black women(may I also say other women of Color such as Latinas, South Asian women, Pacific Island women, Middle Eastern women, Southeast Asian women(Filipinas excepted) and Native American women).
"The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" are hardly unique within the reality genre, which has been plagued by allegations of racial insensitivity since the very first season of "The Real World" in 1992.
More recently, contestants on "Big Brother" were caught on tape making derogatory comments about African American and Asian American housemates. Other shows, including "The Real World" and "The Celebrity Apprentice," have been criticized for trafficking in negative stereotypes or stoking racial tension for ratings.
In the latest Bachelor episode,  contender Jubilee was subjected to racial  taunting by her fellow contestants, saying that she doesn't have the right credentials to be his future wife.
According to the Huffington Post article, fellow contestants said that she wouldn't fit in as "a soccer mom wife." 
The guise of reality gives producers of shows like "The Bachelor" a convenient excuse, says Dubrofsky, author of the book "The Surveillance of Women on Reality Television: Watching 'The Bachelor' and 'The Bachelorette.'" "The makers of the show are easily let off the hook since they can say, 'We are only showing you what the person actually did, which we happened to catch on camera.'"
This season on "The Bachelor," Haitian-born Jubilee Sharpe became an early standout among the contestants, briefly buoying hopes that a black woman would have a shot at the final rose or title of "The Bachelorette." But her initial success provoked jealous sniping from her housemates, who spoke about her in language that, to many viewers, had racial connotations. Sharpe wasn't right for bachelor Ben Higgins because she wouldn't be "friends with all the other soccer moms," said one blond contestant. Sharpe was eliminated two weeks later.
Still, she lasted much longer than the average black contestant on '"The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette." A recent survey by Fusion found that 59% of black contestants leave the show within the first two episodes, which now run for 10 weeks, and that no black contestant had ever made it past Week 5.

Here's the chart from the Washington Post Chronicalling the number of People of Color in both the Bachelor and Bachelorette series

Here are two charts showing the number of People of Color contestants and winners from each episode.

Because producers typically cast a popular but rejected contestant as the next bachelor or bachelorette, this has created a "cycle [of] white contestants, white star," notes Andy Dehnart, editor of the website Reality Blurred.
Dubrofsky's research has also shown that there are fewer men of color on "The Bachelorette" than women of color on "The Bachelor," a disparity that she believes reinforces negative ideas about the romantic suitability of nonwhite men and the notion that white men are "saviors."
Duh, historically White women weren't allow to have relationships with men of Color and vice versa.  Such relationships are controversial to this day.  Think about shock radio Bob Dumas hateful commentary on White woman/Native American marriage in 2008.  Richard Cohen's racist article about Mayor DeBlasio and his family as well as the hateful commentary from YouTube users regarding the Cheerios Commercial featuring an interracial family back in 2013.  We really haven't progressed when it comes to interracial/interethnic relationships.
The truly groundbreaking thing, Dubrofsky added, would be a season featuring a nonwhite star and predominantly diverse contestants. For now, however, "the story of love on 'The Bachelor' and 'The Bachelorette' is about two white people finding love."
So True! Black relationships need to be shown on TV more. Media also need to show more People of Color in love as well as interracial couples on TV but that's wishful thinking as long as racism/white supremacy shape our lives including romance.








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