Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Crying Bachelor: A Tragedy In One Act

By Lars Trodson

I laughed and laughed.

That was my reaction every time I saw the Bachelor, Jason Mesnick, "cry." I put the cry in quotes because I simply didn't believe it. I didn't see any actual tears, and I thought the "anguish" that spread across his face like a black cloud was not cued by any human emotion but rather by the camera that was in front of his face.

The crying is, however, an apparently effective strategy, which is this: if Jason acted as though he himself was so destroyed by the thought of breaking up with a woman, then maybe the woman will go easy on him, maybe even take pity on him, and thus spare him the wrath he might quite rightly deserve. It's a great self-preservation strategy.

So that was what I thought was happening. Oh, poor Jason! He's really hurting! How can anyone be mad at him. It may have worked on all of the Bachelorettes, but not for the rest of the world.

I had not seen an episode of "The Bachelor" in years, and had watched none of the previous episodes of this installment, so I didn't have any opinion on this particular guy.

But almost immediately I thought old Jason was a manipulative, creepy jerk. Every kiss he laid on one of the women seemed too "actorly" -- as though he wasn't really engaged in a gesture of affection or even love. Rather it looked as though it was an act meant to project an outward image to the TV audience: look how passionate I am, how sensual, sexual. It made me cringe. Every sentence he uttered seemed like it came from a self-help book. He wasn't soulful. He was a gym-toned ball of id.

And so when he went to the balcony and put his head down in "anguish" after he let the first Bachelorette go -- the one he eventually hooked back up with -- I threw my head back and laughed. No wonder every American male in every sitcom is portrayed as an airhead or an incompetent boob. No wonder we're looked upon as self-centered mama's boys. No wonder we're --

Hey, wait a minute. This is not really so funny after all.