Kerre McIvor: Huge appetite for the banal

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Jordan Mauger became the target of national hatred.
Jordan Mauger became the target of national hatred.

I'll start with a disclaimer. I don't watch a lot of television. If forensic scientists were to examine our remote, you wouldn't find my fingerprint or a trace of my DNA.

The television is the domain of the husband who will, from time to time, persuade me that something is worth viewing. Breaking Bad for example. Or Veep.

The Bachelor has not ever been a programme he has recorded for my viewing pleasure, but given that it was commanding a lot of column space and air time, I asked the husband to switch channels one night so I could see what the fuss was about.

Jordan Mauger's search for true love seemed to involve him fossicking among a group of pliant females, discarding the ones he didn't want, until he was left with the one who was least annoying.

I watched about 15 minutes' worth - Mauger was taking a couple of the girls for a ride in a seaplane. Those who hadn't been selected for the joyride sulked at the palatial residence where they were ensconced.

The conversations were so stilted, awkward and banal that I decided I'd seen enough.

I got the premise of the show - the girls seemed to be on a perpetual job interview for the position of the first Mrs Mauger and that was enough for me.

We all have different ideas of what affords fun and I know a number of very intelligent women for whom The Bachelor was appointment viewing. Most of them had high-powered jobs and a number of them had left their careers to take a break and raise their babies.

For them, The Bachelor was like intellectual chewing gum. You could switch off, sit back and treat the show like a Victorian melodrama, cheering your favourites and boo-ing the baddies.

Four of the yummy mummies even dressed up in bridal gowns, gathered at one of the women's homes and cracked open the Champagne for the final episode.

I'm pretty sure they just used the show as an excuse to drink Champagne on a school night, but whatever. A bit of mindless fun and where's the harm in that?

But in this series of The Bachelor, the drama happened once the series was over. Jordan chose Fleur over Nasty Naz, presented her with the Michael Hill diamond ring and they looked set to live happily ever after.

Except that Jordan decided the relationship was doomed to failure.

The glitter barely had time to fall from the rafters to the floor when Jordan told Fleur it was over.

She tearfully recounted the news and in a heartbeat, Jordan became public enemy number one. Vitriolic abuse was hurled at him from the brave keyboard warriors " there were death threats for heaven's sake.

Opinion pieces were written, one reassuring Fleur that she had dodged a bullet; another, demanding that Jordan apologise to all New Zealand men for being an arse. Astonishing stuff.

And it must have been quite an eye opener for Mauger.

Having worked on the fringes of the industry, he must have assumed he knew what he was getting into when he agreed to star in the show.

But knowing something and actually living it are vastly different experiences. You can know that the rip tides at Piha are dangerous. It's quite another thing to be caught up in one.

So Mauger felt he couldn't endure a sham relationship, even if it was only to do the rounds of lucrative magazine interviews. Does that really make him a vile human being? So the women entered a show in the hope of getting free hair extensions or a career in television or finding true love?

In this age of Kardashian/Jenners, does that make them so very different from most young women their age?

Naz certainly didn't deserve to be treated with the contempt Thane Kirby showed her when he interviewed her on George FM.

It was base, misogynistic and in very poor taste. The mums I spoke to with young teenage daughters were uncomfortable about their girls watching a show they felt demeaned women, but they reported that their daughters were far more savvy about the construct of the show than they ever imagined.

And just to show you how much of an impact these shows have, NZME's head of entertainment Joanna Hunkin reported that the Bachelor break-up was one of the biggest news story ever on the Herald website.

Bigger than earthquakes, terrorist attacks, royal babies.

What does that say about us? While there's an appetite like that, you can be assured that media organisations will do their best to sate it.

Kerre McIvor is on Newstalk ZB, midday to 4pm, Monday to Friday.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- Herald on Sunday

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