Friday, February 20, 2015

"She's An Evil Person" (Christian Commentary on The Bachelor)

It so happens that I nearly never watch ABC. This is mostly because CBS and NBC are two clicks away from each other, and at my house we have old-fashioned broadcast television. No preset channels, and the "back" button only works for two channels at a time.
The picture credits belong to whatever site they came from. I'm not motivated enough to hunt down where I got them. "I don't claim credit." That should be enough. It's ultimately ABC that owns the shots anyway, so whatever.
When there was nothing on television one night, I decided to stop by ABC to see what was on. It just so happened to be The Bachelor. I could never be a fan, but I figured I'd let myself look over the show and hold my relationship philosophy up to it and see whether the broadcast would challenge or confirm my instincts.

I hadn't thought to make a blog comment on the episodes of last week and the week before, but after I had a chance encounter with a 35-50-year old woman in a supermarket checkout, my attention once again returned to a phrase uttered by one of the contestants, and I want to opine about it.

"They were evil"

This was the casual comment the older lady made with reference to the ladies below, who were both 'sent home' from the show on the same day.

"Always Angsty." Photo cred:
"Sob Story." Photo cred:
Plot summary, skip if uninterested:

I didn't learn their names, and I'm not quite so invested in the show as to be bothered with that. Suffice it to say, the one with Persian features (no clue what her ethnicity is) was one of the two girls that the producers kept cutting to while the second one did her best to maneuver and improve her chances with Bachelor Chris. A voice of reason, but sadly, you never got to see a single clip of her happy or pleasant or in any way exuding positive character qualities of her own--she was always defined negatively, in contrast to Ms. Sob Story. And I realize that the producers take 8+ hours of video tape and cut it down to about 30 minutes, so you're bound to miss lots of stuff, but they certainly didn't do her any favors. Always Angsty came across very one-dimensionally and probably suited many fan-girls' opinions of her as superficial.

Sob Story is so-called by me because she took advantage of a break in the filming schedule to go visit the Bachelor in his hotel room and tell her about her "great story" (her own words; repeatedly emphasized in post-interviews), which consisted of being a widow to a veteran who suddenly collapsed of a heart-attack one day, leaving her young and alone.

Certainly a tear-jerker, and I won't belittle the significance of her experience. But it understandably irritated many of the other girls, who saw her as manipulating Chris to leave her on out of sympathy, when she was likely to have been sent home. So if she really was trying to leverage her history as a sort of guarantee that she 'deserved' to win the competition because of, then that's really pretty shoddy of her. This is, I suspect, where the claims of "she's evil" come from.

But the words in the title to this article aren't describing Sob Story. They're her own words. Say what? Read on.
"I have a lot of respect for you." Cred:
Double Standards and Cultural Hypocrisies

The above screenshot is from immediately after Sob Story returned from a blanket picnic with Chris somewhere in the Badlands, and he had told her that Always Angsty had shared that the other girls were concerned that Sob was "fake," and that this was being hidden from Chris.

She postured herself, probably thinking about the fact that she's on television (after all), and said "I really respect you," to Angsty, which earned a scoff from her.

Then in the "sneak peeks from our next episode," right after the episode concluded, Sob Story was shown in an interview where she described Always Angsty as follows: "She's an evil person."

So what changed?

Was she exaggerating when she said she respected her, or was she exaggerating when she said she was evil? Or was she lying at one point or other?

Martyr for the not-fake girls. Cred: OK Magazine
Why the 'evil' comment is both right and wrong:

It's wrong because it's made as if to insinuate that these two girls were somehow worse in character than the others, based on the limited superficial assessment possible through observing their personalities in what can only be described as abnormal circumstances.

It's wrong because Sob Story's denunciation of Always Angsty as 'evil' clearly shows that she thinks she's "better" than her, and is probably still bitter toward Angsty for her role in thwarting her chance to "win" the Bachelor competition. This sort of competitiveness is unhealthy, because there's no point in continuing to fight after you've lost. Someone who does this has issues with revenge, envy, etc. I daresay that calling someone else 'evil' out of bitter resentment is a laughably ironic proposition to make!

It's right because both of these girls are evil. But they're hardly in a class of their own. If I want to, I can find something wrong with every candidate on the show. It's an easy thing to find things to 'disqualify' other people from consideration as friends, employees, romantic interests etc. What's harder to do is to recognize the fact that their flaws don't set them apart from other people--they are what characterizes them in their human condition--and to have a forgiving attitude toward them where you treat them respectfully and lovingly despite whatever special brand of evil they're more given over to than the next person.

Because of where I am in my Christian walk, now, I perk up every time I hear something like this. The description of these girls as "evil" both strikes me as flippant  and careless, while at the same time I highly doubt someone saying these words appreciates the depths to which it really is true. Everybody is evil. Everybody is a sinful creature, separated from God by our innate rebelliousness against His perfect standard for us. This really means that the fact that someone else is "evil," regardless of whatever level you are able to appreciate its meaning, is not something that should warrant us to behave in a less-than-loving manner toward any person. Because when you understand what evil is, you understand that you are evil. Then the fact that you are, in your humanity, under the same condemnation, inspires you to have sympathy for the afflictions of other sinners. And when you know that you are saved from your sins by a forgiving God, who volunteered to take your punishment in your place so that you could be free from the guilt! --

... then you can say, "yes, she's an evil person," and you'll mean it in a completely different way.

~ Rak Chazak

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