When it comes to reality television, few franchises are better known to Americans than “The Bachelor”. Essentially a dating game show of sorts, The Bachelor centers around one dude (“the bachelor”) choosing one partner from a pool of 25 to 30 young, attractive contestants. The bachelor spends the bulk of the show going on romantic—often cheesy, stereotypical and clearly contrived—dates with the contestants who he gradually eliminates over time. At the end of the show, the last girl standing is declared the winner. She gets a rose and the bachelor is supposed to then propose, creating an extremely “romantic”, fairytale finale.
As you can guess, the show is pretty much chick-crack, akin to your typical daytime soap opera or Twilight movie. The bachelor is almost always an extremely good looking, well-off guy and much of the show is designed to sell the fantasy fairy-tale romance idea to a female audience. It is a real-life Disney movie: the bachelor is the prince, and the winner is the princess. This stuff sells: The Bachelor has been running for 18 seasons.
The most recent bachelor is Juan Pablo Galavis, a Venezuelan who had spent several years playing professional soccer in Venezuela and the USA:
Juan arrived on the scene to much fanfare. He was the show’s first ever Hispanic bachelor, and that angle was played up quite a bit. Female pundits across the entertainment world seemed to have nothing bad to say about him – all they could do was gush. The honeymoon hasn’t lasted, however. The Bachelor’s 18th season finale has just aired and Juan Pablo is now considered by many to be the worst bachelor ever:
ABC’s “Bachelor” fairy tale is apparently a nightmare behind the scenes this season. Juan Pablo Galavis, the current bachelor, is causing quite a stir for the hit romance reality series and producers aren’t happy about it.
“Everyone on the show is just so over him and cannot wait for this season to be over,” a source connected to “The Bachelor” told E! News.
Juan Pablo hasn’t been warmly received on social media either:
I knew from day 1. I HATE #JuanPablo sooo much. I feel awful for every girl, including the one with the final rose.
— Sarah Hyland (@Sarah_Hyland) March 11, 2014
OMG i want to stab this narcissistic idiot… PAINNNNNNN
— Kirstie Alley (@kirstiealley) March 11, 2014
I HATE THIS ASSHOLE!!! He is a jerk!!!! STRAIGHT UP!!
— Kirstie Alley (@kirstiealley) March 11, 2014
I wish she had spit in his face….ok fair enough… imma hot blooded Latino …wait…wut? hello? jeez! biggest asshat in the WORLD
— Kirstie Alley (@kirstiealley) March 11, 2014
So, what did this guy do to earn such vitriol?
1. He didn’t sell the dream
A while ago I authored an article designed to explain why famous men become outspoken feminists. In it, I outlined the need for famous men to play to the fantasies and desires of their infatuated female audience in order to grow and maintain their fame. Male sex symbols in Hollywood are essentially selling the dream: their female fans are in love with them, and it is their job to continue to perpetuate that “fantasy relationship” between themselves and all of those women.
The Bachelor is just another conduit through which this kind of marketing takes place. Nevermind the fact that the show’s plot is a bit absurd and unrealistic to begin with (falling in love over the course of a couple of months on a reality TV show? Sure). The show’s largely female fanbase is most heavily invested in the fantasy that the show represents: one perfect prince choosing his special princess (after an inordinate amount of time spent “falling for” one another in a host of extremely romantic locales), declaring his deep undying love for her, proposing to her, and whisking her away at the end of the season finale to live happily ever after.
Juan failed to keep this dream alive. He chose a winner, but didn’t propose to her at the end of the show because he (wisely, I might add) figured that he can’t propose to someone he pretty much just met. That means no fairytale wedding:
We already know what happened to Clare, but the other final woman, Nikki, “won” this season only by a technicality. Juan Pablo picked out an engagement ring but then refused to put it on her finger because he wasn’t “100% sure” he wanted to propose. (The ring is now reportedly with “Bachelor” producers.)
When interviewed with his chosen winner at the end of the season and asked if he loved her, Juan Pablo was noncommittal. There go any notions of epic romance:
When “Bachelor” host Chris Harrison asked him directly whether he was in love with Nikki, Juan Pablo replied, “I’m not going to answer that question.”
Juan Pablo Galavis is known for his shocking comments, but last night’s confession to Clare Crawley takes the cake.
During his helicopter date in St. Lucia with the 32-year-old on the Bachelor finale, viewers didn’t get to see what Juan Pablo told Clare that irked her.
Apparently, Clare told her leading man at the time, “just tell me you love me,” and he responded with, “I loved fucking you, but I don’t know you.”
During Clare’s final one-on-one interview confessional on the show, she explained how hurt she was by his comment.
“I’m shocked,” Clare said. “He chose to tell me something that no woman wants to hear. That he doesn’t know me and some sexual thing I don’t want to repeat. It was insulting and it was offensive.”
…but it was honest. Clare wanted a confession of love from a man she met on a reality TV show and had only known for less than two months. Juan Pablo just gave her reality: “You’re good in bed, but what love do you expect me to fall into within just a few weeks of even meeting you and even less time than that spent talking to you one on one?”
Trista Sutter, a former contestant on the Bachelor, complains that Juan Pablo was not “respectful” enough:
Unfortunately, a lack of respect seems to have been a consistent theme throughout the season for Juan Pablo and last night was no exception.
• Instead of whispering sweet nothings about how beautiful she was or how lucky he was to have her there with him, he decided to use private time with Clare to tell her how horny he was… or something to that effect.
• Instead of opening up to Clare during their final date and sharing his concerns about their ups and downs then stringing her along by talking about their future in Sacramento and having babies, he decides to keep it to himself until she’s standing across from him professing her belief in him and love for him. THEN he has the gall to go in for a disingenuous hug without letting her process her broken heart.
• Instead of choosing to tell Nikki how ecstatic he is to start a new adventure with her away from prying eyes of cameramen and producers, he tells her that he is 100 percent positive that he does not want to propose to her. What woman wants to hear that? NOT ONE! Especially one that is hoping for you to get down on one knee.
In the mind of Trista Sutter (and most women like her), the word “respectful” means telling women what they want to hear. Not what you actually think, or what actually is, but whatever she considers appropriate. Women dictate the narrative in her mind.
And let me be clear…I am by no means confused that JP isn’t in love. I am confused as 2 why being disrespectful & rude are called honest.
— Trista Sutter (@tristasutter) March 11, 2014
Juan Pablo chose to tell the truth, and therein lies the problem. Truth is not the fantasy that women tuning in to watch The Bachelor are looking for. They want to see an epic romance fit for a Disney movie.
Juan Pablo instead gave them the all-too realistic musings of a single guy who had plenty of romantic options and didn’t care all that much about the delusions (ex: girl wants to tell Juan she’s fallen deeply in love with him after less than two months together on reality tv? lol) and feelings of a bunch of women he’d only known for a month or two at most. He simply said and did with them as he honestly pleased, and gave few fucks how they felt about it. These women want their TV (and the men on it) to cater to their every whim, and Juan Pablo wasn’t interested in that.
2. He was politically incorrect
Juan Pablo was asked quite directly about the prospect of there being a gay or bisexual Bachelor at some point in time. His response?
When asked whether or not he thought the hit ABC reality show featuring a gay or bisexual bachelor would be a “good idea,” Juan Pablo Galavis reportedly told The TV Page’s Sean Daly, “No… I respect [gay people] but, honestly, I don’t think it’s a good example for kids…”
“Obviously people have their husband and wife and kids and that is how we are brought up. Now there is fathers having kids and all that, and it is hard for me to understand that too in the sense of a household having peoples… Two parents sleeping in the same bed and the kid going into bed… It is confusing in a sense.”
Galavis, who is the show’s first Latino bachelor, also stated that “there’s this thing about gay people… it seems to me, and I don’t know if I’m mistaken or not… but they’re more ‘pervert’ in a sense. And to me the show would be too strong… too hard to watch.”
These are not the kind of views that go over well in mainstream American media.
3. He was a “sexist”
In the USA, men are conditioned to buy into the notion that gender roles are primarily social constructs, that all bodies are beautiful, and that men and women are the same.
These are attitudes that really aren’t widespread outside of the Anglosphere, and Juan Pablo basically provided highly sheltered American women (who are generally used to getting what they want to see from the mainstream media) with a rude awakening to this reality. Juan Pablo was born in the United States, but moved back to Venezuela with his family at the age of two and didn’t return to the USA until he went to college. After 4 years in university, he promptly returned to Venezuela. This is a man who hasn’t been raised in the American bubble, and didn’t care to act like it (skip to 1:35 in the video):
Here’s what he told Keltie about meals after 7.
Keltie: And bread maybe? Girls love carbs.
Juan Pablo: No, no carbs after 7, I will not give you carbs.
Juan Pablo: I’ll do that for lunch. Just because you want to keep your, you know… *makes hourglass symbol with hands to reference a slim female figure*
Juan wants his women in shape, and he isn’t afraid to say it. He has standards he expects the women in his life to meet, and he isn’t afraid to articulate them. He sees women who want to be treated like special snowflakes free of all consequences and obligations, and he’s not willing to play along.
All in all, much of the controversy surrounding Juan Pablo is, in my estimation, the product of a culture clash. Juan Pablo comes from a society where the media doesn’t really cater to women to quite the extent that it does in the US, Canada, and the rest of the developed Anglosphere. He is not used to playing the game because, where he is from, it isn’t played so often. Feel-good delusions about gender aren’t as commonly passed around in the media as fact in most other parts of the world, and decisively politically incorrect points of view are still widely and openly embraced in most parts of the planet.
What Juan Pablo said with regard to his preference for women not eating after 7PM in order to keep their figure is highly controversial in American media, but in his native Venezuela (and just about any other part of Latin America) it is likely that nobody would blink twice at that comment. The same goes for most of Southern and Eastern Europe, just about all of Africa, the entirety of the Caribbean and the bulk of the Asian continent.
Juan, by virtue of his status as a product of this “outside world”, brought this reality home to American television. This is how the real world is, and your average American woman doesn’t want any part of it. She simply cannot cope with perspectives that don’t put her on a pedestal and prioritize her wants and needs above all else, even if said desires are totally absurd (ex: expecting an extremely good looking, well-off guy with plenty of beautiful female suitors to fall deeply in love with you and then propose to you after less than two months of association on reality television). American society will cater to her and often prevent her from ever having to face harsher reality, but most others will not. Her feelings just aren’t that important to most in the wider world, as Juan Pablo has illustrated.
Trista Sutter offers one last bit of commentary that can wrap up our insight into the perception of Juan Pablo:
It is one thing to speak from the heart in the interest of honesty and entirely another to speak your mind in a disrespectful way without compassion or understanding. Honesty is a huge component in successful relationships, but you must choose your words wisely in order to prevent hurtful results and it seems that there is no filter for Juan Pablo. It makes me wonder how he is with his [four year old] daughter. Does he tell her she is horrible at something she is struggling with, in the interest of honesty, or does he tell her how proud he is that she is trying her best and that’s all she can do, in the interest of compassion? My hope is that he will take this opportunity and consciously choose kindness over honesty no matter whom he is speaking to… not only for his own benefit, but for the happiness of Nikki as well as Camila and all the people in his life.
Sutter is making her appeal here by asking that Juan Pablo treat Nikki (the contestant he chose as the winner of The Bachelor this season) and other women like her in the same way he treats his daughter, Camila. By drawing a parallel between the way he interacts with both, Sutter implies that they should be treated similarly, “in the interest of compassion”.
Camila is four years old. Nikki is 26.
This fully mature, 42 year old woman is essentially expressing her desire for Juan Pablo and men like him to treat grown women like small children. Trista Sutter has, unwittingly, concurred with the old patriarchal notion that women are like children and should be treated accordingly. Events on the show itself are in line with this notion: Juan Pablo tried to treat the women he met like mature, reasonable adults, and that was too much for their extremely fragile egos. They needed to be handled with kid gloves.
I like Juan Pablo, but I can see why he’s attracted so much controversy as “The Bachelor”. He was too real, and reality is not in demand here. That honesty is what makes him “The Worst Bachelor Ever” in the eyes of a society so heavily invested in delusions associated with the fantasy that the show tries to present.
At the end of the day, one fact remains…
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