Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What I Learned from Last Night's Bachelorette

Whatever. Laugh at my post's title. I don't care. I watch the ABC show "The Bachelor/Bachelorette". A lot of you watch it and are too ashamed to admit it. I get that. My significant other got me into it a few years ago (I hated it at first, wanted to barf at the screen, but, much like Stockholm Syndrome, I have come to have empathy and even a little love for my captors). God help me, I enjoy watching fleets of men humiliate themselves for a shot at marrying a woman who inevitably reminds me of that girl I dated in high school and then, one week in, started faking illnesses to avoid.

For the uninitiated, last night marked the first episode of the 7th season of The Bachelorette. I'm not going to go into any more detail because, well, my grandkids may see this post someday, and I want them to have a shred of dignity left by the time they finish reading it. So anyway, here's my point: this guy Jeff, one of Ashley Hebert's (that's "Hebert" with a silent "H" and "t") potential love interests, entered the "mansion" last night wearing a facemask.

Not a SARS facemask. Or a catcher's mask. I'm talking a full-blown, Mardi-Gras-meets-Batman black mask that obscured half his face. It seemed creepy to me at first, as it did to several of the other men in the cattle herd. But as the night wore on (somewhere in the second hour of the show), I started to see his point. As guys bent themselves into pretzels pouting their lips and waxing faux-philosophic, Jeff lurked in the background, taking it all in.

During his confessionals, Jeff kept saying that we live in a society that puts so much emphasis on appearance that he wanted to take his own appearance out of the game. If he got a rose at the end of the night, he implied, it would be for the right reasons--because he's a person of substance--and not because he's some smoking hot GQ model. Which, judging by his hangdog cheeks and stubble, I doubt he is anyway.

Fast forward to 11:00 and Batman did indeed get a rose. I know it's stupid, but I felt good for the guy. I don't know if he'll take off his mask during the show (part of me hopes he doesn't, just because of how much it creeps the other stiffs out), but he made his point loud and clear.

And, even though there are a million more intellectually noble things I could be devoting brain space to, Jeff's stunt got me thinking. When indie authors pay to have a beautiful cover made, when they mount a well-designed marketing campaign, when they say all the right things on their guest blogging tour and post funny entries to their super-sleek website, to me, that's akin to what all the other Bachelorette contestents did last night: they gave Ashley gifts of wine bottles, they picked her up to show how manly they were, they recited (lame) poems to her as they furrowed their heavy brows. But not one of them said much of substance to her. They were just pretty ephemera.

But not Jeff.

Though the dude didn't say much (he pretty much just held up a mirror to the asses who panicked at how weird he was), he articulated exactly what a good book should do: he was different and he had a purpose for being different. You should do everything you can so that your book stands out, but make sure that once you've achieved the "standing out" part of your grand plan, the reader is rewarded by reading something spectacular. I only hope Jeff doesn't turn out to be Bruce Lame.

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