Making television about television
The modern circus came to our new town yesterday evening, and we went to watch. There had been rumors for weeks, starting with a letter from the chamber of commerce asking downtown businesses to support closing main stream for the event, and culminating in confirmatory speculation on various gossip blogs earlier this week. The Bachelor came to northwest Montana, a date for the latest seasons’ fourth episode, with a helicopter tour of the Glacier and a specially staged concert downtown.
Bizarrely, the first google image result for “Bachelor Whitefish” is of my friend Amber (right) the fish biologist.
Even more bizarre was the event itself. The main block of downtown had been closed for most of the day, with a small stage appropriately decorated (reportedly by designers wearing flannel) with logs, rocks, and a few cut down aspens in the midst of turning. In the middle of what would be the crowd was a 10 by 10 foot platform, 3 feet high, for the “cast members” (no one officially acknowledged that it was in fact The Bachelor). There was even a small wooden barrel in the corner, to hold a red plaid blanket in case they got cold.
Television leaves nothing to chance.
The most jarring part of the whole experience is that, after being coached to be quiet as the couple walked around the corner and then cheer and part to funnel them to the platform, we the collective crowd spent the subsequent 20 minutes of the same two songs from Sarah Darling staring at two strangers as they danced, hugged, and kissed, all the while using smartphones to take pictures and update Facebook. The levels of artifice under which the show must operate I can grasp; especially the illusion/delusion that on the hypothetical perfect first date one might go to a concert and have the vortices of fate swirl only around you. That we the crowd should be coached is perhaps understandable as well, though the two takes of crowd surfing was quite artificial. What I struggle to see is how its reasonable to expect anyone to build a romantic relationship under such circumstances, which at the same time learning to act like a celebrity. But that is probably missing the point.
In any case, some excitement during an otherwise very sleepy time of year. And since I was around for Lindsey’s (the female “case member”) crowd surfing, I’m totally getting on television.