Yes, it’s hard to believe that ABC’s The Bachelorette and the works of Jane Austen could be mentioned in the same sentence. Even though Austen is several centuries before our time, both are cultural phenomenas of the modern age. The Bachelorette has been going strong on American televisions for about 15 years, while movie and TV productions of Austen’s works are just a normal part of the Western entertainment experience. Certainly a reality T.V show and the works of classic British literature are not on par in regards to their long-term significance. But that difference aside, Austen’s writing and the reality show have much in common when it comes to the core of each’s appeal: offering a narrative of love and romance. While it could be easy to write off Austen as out of date, her wide-spread, long-lasting popularity reflects that she must be striking a nerve with modern audiences. The Bachelorette’s obvious allure reflects the same thing. Now granted, many people probably watch the reality show as a guilty pleasure, and not with a serious eye. But I think there’s more there, and I’d like to make two very general propositions to help prove my point.
- Entertainment, as vapid as it may be, is created out of a worldview
- T.V shows rely on producing media that lots of people desire to consume, so it has to be appealing to the thoughts and feelings of, well, lots of people.
If these things are true, then that would mean that the two subjects of this post present ideas from a worldview that resonates with audiences. However, I think in particular that these ideas would be openly criticized by many people, but maybe deep down they would actually agree with it.
What are these ideas? Well, I think one overarching concept is… that there is absolute truth in regards to love.
This isn’t a popular opinion.
Many might argue that love is relative, self-defined, merely biological, etc. But I would like to propose that there is absolute truth when it comes to love and use, as exhibit A and B, the oh-so-familiar but not-at-all similar, cases of Jane Austen and The Bachelorette. (Well, the main args will be presented in my next post, this was just an intro 😉