Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Bachelor: On The Wings of Brain Washing

The Bachelor. Simple concept. 1 eligible, good-looking bachelor. 25 women, who are looking for "true" love, compete to win him over. Only one can survive. Only one can remain on the island. It's an amazing race to happens when you take 26 people and put them in one house...who will be the biggest loser?

err...something like that.

I guess if you've ever seen reality TV, you don't really need to know what the concept is as long as you know what the contestants are competing for.

While it may seem like this monotonous, played-out format would be to the Bachelor's disadvantage, it's actually (amazingly) one of the very root causes to its success. If women were to actually take a look at the show, they'd see that it's not really about love at all. It's actually fairly contradictory to what is generally told to be "love."

Don't believe me? Well, let's take a look.

Let's talk about the contestants; the people our audience is living vicariously through. Unsurprisingly, they're all relatively beautiful. I say "relatively beautiful" to emphasize a major attraction to the show: choosing who you like and don't like. I've seen many a facebook status update, read a blog post about, and listened to tons of conversations about "who really deserves it" and how "what's-her-face isn't even that pretty," as well as "she's just a better person." Everyone loves to be an expert and The Bachelor, like all reality TV, gives you an opportunity to make a judgment on who you think should win. You get little interviews mixed with collaged clips of their happenings in the show. This is supposed to give you the "real" them. You see how they "really" are, right? You see the real them. You know what they deserve. Right?

Back to the ladies. Many of them are successful business women who just haven't met that certain someone. Others are up and coming models or entertainers of some sort. Some do have basic jobs like secretary or waitress, but they all have one thing in common: they're hot! Now you may disagree for whatever reason, but they have to have a certain body type and their general appearance has to be of a specific quality. It's hard to know where they found all of these successful, beautiful women. Maybe this is where all of those strippers who were earning their way through college went? Maybe. The women definitely make the show. They are what's interesting. They cause all the action and the drama. Enough said.

Now that we have the base of the show, let's get into the "love" story that they're telling. The Bachelor is telling its audience that these contestants and this Bachelor are all in the search for true love. So what's their formula to find that answer? Again, let's take a look.

They take 25 women normal women of all walks of life and all shapes and sizes at complete They take 25 women who are specifically chosen for the way they look, personalities, the specifics that the Bachelor gives, and their careers. Basically they are chosen for entertainment purposes. Will they be entertaining enough. Is that how Shakespeare cast Juliet before she met Romeo?

Speaking of Romeo, what about The Bachelor himself? They generally find a good looking, successful man who's a real man's man but knows how to dress and has that sensitive side and really listens while saving children from Africa and rebuilding orphanages in Haiti. I know he sounds too gay to be true, but he's "real" deal. He's that lame cliche of a man whom parents teach their daughters they deserve in life.

So you have your Romeo and your 25 Juliets and the rest is supposed to be a journey of love. The only thing that is confusing is what happens on the show. As all reality TV watchers know, there have to be challenges. On The Bachelor, these challenges are actually dates and are supposed to be ways for him to get to know the ladies. These can sometimes be up to 3 at a time. Doesn't that sound great? Taking 3 women out you've never met, who are competing with each other, and have personalities that scream for attention: specifically for the attention of millions of people? Of course it does. They're hot, right?

What about how many of the women the Bachelor ends up having sex with? There are always a couple womenvwho think that it's going to better the chances if they get in there early. You know, because having sex early in a relationship's totally going to get you more respect and closer to his heart, right? (It will get you closer to one of his body parts) I mean he takes the final 3 on an overnight vacation so he can choose his final 2. I just saw the last one (and I have to admit I've only seen 1 season and a couple of episodes since, but come on it's all the same) and he reads each of them a note that basically says, "I'm giving you one lucky have sex.......with THIS GUY!" Oh and the kicker is all of them act like it's the most romantic moment ever! After he reads it to the 3rd girl and she accepted, they went up to the room and she said, " look how romantic this place is!" I couldn't help but wonder if he was thinking, "you should have seen the other 2 rooms."

This is obviously known by the contestants. I mean, this is the 14th season. They know what's up and they're totally fine with it. If Sleeping Beauty knew that Prince Charming had offered the castle sweet to Snow White and Cinderella, would she have been still singing the same tune? I think she and her animal friends would be keying Charming's horse carriage and then lighting it on fire.

It's just interesting that the love story is so not about love. It's about entertainment. For the fans and, frankly, for the Bachelor. I mean, he's the guy getting all the play! All he has to do is say, "oh, I really do care about her, but I'm so much more in love with these 8 other chicks." We can't blame him. He's just being fair by letting her go now because leading her on wouldn't be fair.

Who doesn't the bachelor lead on? Out of the 13 already finished Bachelors, none of them are still married( and most never got married). None. I think the record marriage length so far is 5 years. On the other hand, a couple of the contestants ended up on some other TV programs (dancing with the stars, the doctors) and even marrying other people who just "happened" to be in the entertainment industry. Oh, none of those worked out either. Maybe, The Bachelor is the American dream of getting to Hollywood?

It's very interesting that the Bachelor's success is based on the idea of the "happily ever after" fairy tale. They find the prince and he tries to place the glass slipper on the right foot. Unfortunately, they give him 25 Cinderellas who all seem to fit that slipper so, like all good princes, he weeds out the boring ones first, and then has sex with the rest to find out which one he'll date for 7-8 months before they realize that the camera's off and nobody is watching. There's nobody to entertain and the "real" people come out. Not so happy after all.

Maybe I'm just a cynic; a hater. I'm just not giving them a chance. Maybe, but after looking at the statistics (0% happily ever after) do you really think they have a chance? I may also just be an elitist. Someone hellbent on proving the classics are the true love story. I don't think so. I mean, I don't think all love stories need to end with Romeo and Juliet killing themselves.

On the other hand, I do think that the show would be way better if the bachelor and his choice ended up killing each other to prove their love. No not really....

ok, maybe.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ella 's World

Many may stare at the picture above and see a mass of junk. Some may see a mom who has been cleaning up the living room and has placed the remnants of a child's clutter on the table before she puts it all away--for the 4th time. Some may see a carefully placed arrangement of pieces that create an amazing artistic statement (ok, probably not, but work with me people). There are probably 1000s of things one could see when staring at this photo (maybe that's where they get the phrase a picture's worth a thousand words), but to me this says Ella Kalia Ripley.

I know most parents know that in general, kids will play with anything. When it came time for Ella's first Christmas, I can't remember how many times I heard people reciting-- as if they were the original source-- "it doesn't matter what you get them. They'll love the box and paper more." Then we would pretend to laugh and have to hear about how children seem to intentionally only be interested in things that have little monetary value; as if we didn't understand their played out cliche. I always thought this was just one of those lame jokes that people used for small talk. You know, at first the kids only want to play with the wrapping, but in the end it's the toy that matters. I mean, how else would the toy industry get it's billions each year? (In 2005 the US spent 22.9 Billion dollars on toys. I tried to find a more recent statistic, but it's kind of late and I'm kind of very lazy). I just can't see kids wanting to play with crap, right?


These pictures are of someone's treasure--and that person is Ella Ripley.

While you may see some of what we may consider standard toys, most are not. There are some clear containers with white tops that used to hold sprinkles for food decoration. Now they're used as drinking cups for tea parties, salt and pepper shakers, and sometimes telephones. There's also a can of green beans and bottle of conditioner that I have no idea what she uses them for, but I have seen her talk to them quite a bit. There's also a deodorant stick that she uses as a microphone, an electric shaver, and even chap stick. Ella's imagination is very frugal and wants to squeeze out every possible use it can out of whatever treasure our little pack rat finds.

In this picture, Ella is sitting in a box that Shalie was given to hold her groceries from Costco. Ella uses it as a bath tub, a car, and a house. She's also holding in her right hand her sword that is actually that thingy (anyone know what it's called?) that opens an closes the blinds. In her left hand--in all its ghetto glory-- is a half-chewed piece of raw top-ramen ( I wonder if people will think Ella's homeless when they find out she plays in a cardboard box while eating uncooked noodles and talks to cans of green beans?)

If a picture says a thousand words, then the ones with your children in it say 1,000,000 reasons why you love them. I love how creative my daughter is! I love how meticulous her pack-ratting is! I love how careful she is with each and every "treasure" and how it should be played with! I love watching what she creates and sitting front row while she creates it! I love my little ghetto pirate as she sales the sea in her cardboard ship while rationing her ramen noodles! I love Ella's world...

because she's my everything. She's my world.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Back by Universal Demand

A couple of nights ago, Shalie had picked me up from work and we were talking in the car. It was our usual rundown of the day, "How was work?" "How was your day?" "Was Ella good?" A pretty standard end-of-the-day quiz.

And then Shay got this look in her eye.

At first I thought it was, you know, the look to you know...I'm a guy. That's generally what I think of first. Sue me. Anyway, after realizing it wasn't that look (which is usually 90% of the time :( ), my ears actually tuned into what she was saying. She had received some strong vibes that I needed to start writing again. Really?

"Where are these vibes coming from?"

"The Universe."

Oh yeah....she went there.

Apparently, the Universe needs to hear my voice through rhetoric and out in the blog world. Luckily, my wife is so fine tuned to the universe that I received this message. I don't have that universal antenna. It must be a wife thing.

You see, I was done with the blog world. I had decided that my voice was not to be heard. Not to give my opinions on current events, my favorite TV shows, and recent trends that I find ridiculous. Nor to exaggerate how "wonderful" my family is or tell the insignificant details of average days to make my life sound interesting when it really isn't.

No more blog voice from Sita Ripley. Believe it or not.

And then...

The Universe sends "vibes" to Shalie to rekindle my writing career to the 20 or so who will read it and the 3 who will actually comment on it (1 comment will probably be someone who is just saying how excited they are that they found Shalie through "blogstalking" and will have nothing to do with this post).

Like a good boy, I'm going to listen to the universe (it's probably just something Shalie wants, but then again, she is my Universe). Who am I to deny the Universe? So I'll be writing more often on our family blog. That's all this post is saying. Sorry, if you expected more.

Here's to you Universe!