When last I updated this blog Donald Trump was still the President of the United States, and it would still be a little over half a year before COVID-19 significantly made its presence known in North America. Since then life has undergone drastic, almost unimaginable changes, and as I make my entirely unexpected return to Culture War Reporters I thought it would be fitting to provide updates on the half dozen posts I wrote back in 2019 to underscore the ways in which time has moved inexorably onwards.
It’s laughable to look back on a post that explores J. K. Rowling’s take on representing the LGBTQ+ community given that the author has positioned herself as a bastion against what she views as the dangers of transgender men. How could I have known that at the tail end of the year she would tweet support for Maya Forstater, a British woman who was fired for her comments about that particular group of people? Since then Rowling has doubled, tripled, quadrupled, and so on, down on her stance, in many ways becoming a figurehead for the TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) movement. This has caused a rift in the Harry Potter fandom between those who would demonize the author and paint her entire body of work as being “bad” or “problematic” and others who would defend her writing to the point of adopting beliefs and stances that they might not otherwise.
Michael Chu, on the other hand, is no longer the head writer on Overwatch, and in fact no longer works for Blizzard Entertainment at all. He now acts as Narrative Director at 31st Union, a “San Fransisco Bay Area studio formed with a common purpose of crafting highly engaging entertainment and a commitment to putting fans first.” As far as his former employer, we’ll be digging into that oversized can of worms a little further down.
On January 7th, 2019, at 8 PM (7 PM Central), ABC premiered the 23rd season of perennial reality TV favourite The Bachelor. Starring ex-NFL tight end Colton Underwood, this latest installment also held the promise of following Revian Chang, an Asian contestant, and her own search for love. It was a search that ended at roughly 11 PM (8 PM Central) that very same evening.
It was an event that I couldn’t pass up covering, and Revian somehow found the article I had written and reached out to thank me via email. After the weeks it took me to finally ask her to do a short interview she graciously agreed, opening up on her short stint on the show and what it meant to be a Chinese woman on the historically very white show.
I didn’t know anyone who also applied for my same season. However, I was friends with a few previous contestants prior to applying.
In an interview with NPR Chris Harrison said that they “don’t get the same cross-section of casting,” specifically referring to the fact that there aren’t as many non-white applicants to the show as white applicants. He went on to say that “[minorities] don’t see themselves represented on television. They don’t see themselves represented equally. And so I would assume, ‘Why would I be going to do this if I don’t see myself there anyway?’” Do you agree with that?
I can understand the assumption as to “why would I do this if I’m not being represented, and if I am represented…it’s not equally,” and rejection or misinterpretation are both scary. But if we continue to assume this, then minorities continue to have a lack of representation.
I went in knowing that most contestants and viewers of The Bachelor are white. I didn’t allow it to scare me off. I think I wasn’t scared because I am confident and happy in who I am. And if a major network show were to cast me, I hoped I would be a good representation for a minority group.
As I write this #BachelorNation, millions of viewers strong, is wrapping up the second episode of the 23rd season of The Bachelor. Having said that, let’s cut to the chase: I’m watching The Bachelor again (though I have not resurrected my meme instagram account)! In all seriousness, the actual chase being cut to is this: there’s a Chinese girl on Colton’s season!
As a quick aside, there have been other Asian women on The Bachelor, and vastly more than the number of Asian men on sister show The Bachelorette. Those contestants, mentioned in past race-relatedBachelor posts, have (to my knowledge) all been mixed race (and always with one white parent). All of a sudden here we are, 17 years after the show has premiered, and we have Revian Chang.
For the uninitiated, “ABG” stands for “Asian Baby Girl”, which Urban Dictionary helpfully defines as a “Cuteasian girl looks like aecinira on twitch.” Which is helpful to some readers, probably. The post was edited soon afterwards to reveal the reason for the title of this post: Revian never made it past the first night.
It’s funny, because with a title like “And the Baby and Other Things” you would think that this episode would be centred on little baby Barbara and her parents, Sophie and Oleg.
What’s also funny is that I wrote that opening line before watching this episode, and hey, I was exactly right. The “Baby” in question actually has nothing do with the daughter of the most-cheered-for couple on prime time television. That being said, Sophie and Oleg were actually one of my favourite parts of an episode that continues the trend of Season 6 being heavily back-loaded with Caroline-centric plots. Continue reading →
While both that show and its spinoff, The Bachelorette, have never had stellar track records as far as racial diversity, things came to a head when Jubilee Sharpe, the final Black contestant remaining, was eliminated on the first day of February [AKA Black History Month]. Cue soundbites from higher-ups that “[they’re] doing a whole lot of tweaks”. Not that that’s anything new, as a lengthy interview that NPR conducted with host Chris Harrison back in 2015 reveals they’ve long been aware of the issue, and that they want to do something about it. Harrison also used the exact words “we really tried” after surmising that a previous previous star was “1/16th Cherokee Indian”, if that’s any indication of what we might expect.
Those of you who follow both shows will be well-aware of the events that took place at the beginning of this week, but before I get into that I want to fill in the gaps between that last post and this one.
So, What Happened After Ben’s Season?
The cyclical nature of franchise means that the The Bachelor premieres every January, with The Bachelorette following not too long afterwards in May. ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee, the man who hinted at the “tweaks” up above, also told reporters at the time that:
“I’d be very surprised if ‘The Bachelorette’ in the summer isn’t diverse. I think that’s likely”
He also made reference to something called the “farm team” which a) I recently found out is sports terminology and has nothing to do with animals or actual farms and b) is the term for the contestants featured on each season of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. Variety notes that the norm is for the next Bacheloron [a gender neutral term for the star of either program that I took from an article I’ll link to later] to be from the previous season’s “farm team”. With that in mind both fans and critics of the franchise saw the 12th season of The Bachelorette as the perfect opportunity to make that much-needed change. Continue reading →
It’s been a quite a few years since the summer I spent watching Jillian Harris do her level best to find the perfect man on Season 5 of The Bachelorette. Fast forward to the beginning of 2016 and I find myself in the same position, this time with 27-year-old Hoosier heartthrob Ben Higgins. A number of things have changed in those seven years, like the price of bitcoin and the existence of this blog, while others haven’t, like my relationship status [single], ABC’s continued broadcasting of the search for love, and The Bachelor and The Bachelorette‘s respective track records with race.
Is Race on The Bachelor/Bachelorette Really an Issue?
Luckily for me, I’m not nearly the first person to cover this topic. Of particular note is Karen X. Cheng’s “Minorities on The Bachelor: When do they get eliminated?”, which lists the contestants who were racial minorities on both shows and, as the title suggests, exactly what week they did not receive a rose. Worth keeping in mind is that as of 2014 The Bachelor was in its 18th season, and The Bachelorette in its 10th.
Check out more specific, well-designed graphs by heading over to the article itself.
Cheng noted that there appeared to be a drastic spike after 2012, during which there was a class action lawsuit leveled against the series regarding “the deliberate exclusion of people of color from the roles of the Bachelor and Bachelorette underscores the significant barriers that people of color continue to face in media and the broader marketplace.” While the lawsuit was later dismissed she posits that the sheer amount of negative press the show garnered is what resulted in the network scrambling to make a change so quickly. Continue reading →