While I’m currently 10,553 miles away (London to Sydney – I Googled it), I can not escape being swept up in Aussie Bachelor mania.
This is due, in no small part to the episode recaps from the amazing ROSIE WATERLAND on Mamamia and made possible thanks to a bunch of low octave, small screen uploads on youtube. Thank god for the internet, keeping us connected to our roots and culture.
So here I am, quietly enjoying the Bachelor under the hipster go-to pretense of irony, minding my own business when something happened that had/has me baffled. It’s the internet and Australian media’s (frankly bizarre) reception to “Super villain”, Keira Maguire.
We’re being bombarded bi-lines and news stories like:
“The Bachelor ‘villain’ Keira Maguire pulled from publicity trail after viewer backlash- SINCE The Bachelor debuted last week, Keira Maguire has dominated chatter about the show — and not for reasons she may have hoped for.”
“Bachelor star Keira Maguire’s cult upbringing shock!”
“F-bombs galore and Keira loses her sh*t!”
I’d be losing my shit too.
These crappy, clickbait articles are digging into Keira’s life, trying to find justification for her deviant behaviour.
Her ‘cult’ upbringing? That explains her audacious inclination for “real talk.”
Here’s an example of Keira’s outspoken behaviour:
“I’m fun, I’m successful. I have amazing style. I’ve pretty much got the whole package.”
Fucking great, me too. Let’s go get a drink some time.
How dare this woman, this character, defy our conventions by being so unapologetically forward, by being so true to herself!?!! How dare she give no shits about making her self likeable?!?
Likability is a huge element in critical reception in every level art and culture. It’s why something like Gogglebox is so popular. We are judging them on their likability and realness while they judge others, critical reception inception.
We want our characters to be human and flaunt what freedom of nothing looks like, to live the lives that we wouldn’t dare. We admire them for their freedom and we tear them down for it.
Above all else, a woman must be seen as vulnerable for us to sympathise with her. If we can’t sympathise with her, we can’t admire her, we’ll cast her off as unlikeable and watch her burn. When a man is unlikeable he is seen in the light of the flawed noir figure, admired and respected. It’s fucked, but that’s how it is.
In her essay “Not Here to Make Friends.” Roxane Gay writes:
“This is what is so rarely said about unlikable women in fiction— that they aren’t pretending, that they won’t or can’t pretend to be someone they are not. They have neither the energy for it, nor the desire… Unlikable women refuse to give in to that temptation. They are, instead, themselves. They accept the consequences of their choices and those consequences become stories worth reading.”
That is why these “real talk””super villain”ladies are a reality tv producers wet dream. They chew up the girls and spit them out, leaving the carrion for the audience to feed on until there’s nothing left but a bi-monthly red carpet opening at Fanny’s in Newcastle on a Saturday night.
I’ll continue to watch the stoic, Aussie Bachelor assign likability to the various 1 and 2 dimensional characters tv executives have placed around him because I’m a human being and that’s how I get my jollies.
I’ll leave you with this thought: all of the women are on this show because they fit the cast and mould of a particular character, but they are also real people. Think about that before you send your next mean tweet.