Far too often lately we’ve seen the lines blurred between the entertainment industry and politics. Usually, it’s celebrities who like to play the part of politicians, however this week we saw a Minnesota legislator inject himself into a reality TV show.
Minnesota Rep. Drew Christensen authored a bill banning the “Bachelor” Arie Luyendyk from the state of Minnesota. Luyendyk, who was arrested for driving with a suspended license in 2008, became the “Bachelor" everyone loved to hate this season.
He proposed to Becca Kufrin, from Prior Lake, Minn., during the season finale and then promptly changed his mind, dumped her and proposed to someone else instead.
Just when you think reality TV can’t get any more ridiculous and unbelievable, it does.
Rep. Christensen, a Republican, promised on Twitter to author the bill if his Tweet received 1,000 retweets, which it surpassed. The bill reads: "The state of Minnesota hereby adopts a policy of zero tolerance of Arie Luyendyk Jr. from season 22 of ‘The Bachelor.’ It is state policy that every person in the state has a right to live free from the presence of Arie Luyendyk Jr. in the state."
On March 6 he took to Twitter again and promised to invite Becca to the State of the State Address if his Tweet received 10,000 retweets, which he also received.
Christensen told the Los Angeles Times Thursday, “This entire situation has been done tongue-in-cheek and about supporting the hometown girl. We Minnesotans stick together. It’s been a great civic experiment on how easy it is to get in touch with your elected officials and showing that, yes, we can have a sense of humor.”
A “great civic experiment” is “CYA” political speak.
So, we can rest assured it wasn’t done to gain Twitter followers, or raise his celebrity status. Millions of “The Bachelor” viewers now adore Becca, who also happens to be the newly named star of “The Bachelorette.” Most of those viewers also know his name now, too, but I guess that’s just a coincidence.
If you want to increase your political celebrity status, it may seem like a good PR move for a legislator who’s focused strictly on “The Bachelor’s” popularity. The show just wrapped its 22nd season, and it’s still a ratings palooza. But PR stunts such as this come with a risk: a public servant who cravenly chooses to serve himself instead of the people who elected him can only be taken so seriously. Not all Twitter followers will think you’re funny, many just think you’re ridiculous.
Last Monday’s season finale hit 7.8 million viewers in the all-important 18-49 age bracket -- the demographic advertisers covet. That was a new high for the season. After 22 seasons on the air ABC was still able to win the 18-49 demographic for the finale.
Those numbers either speak to our desire for drama and suspense or our desire to tune in to watch a train wreck play out at the expense of other people. It depends how you want to spin it.
The New York Post printed a story titled: “On-camera ‘Bachelor’ breakup was a disgusting ratings ploy.” There’s a strong argument that can be made that the entire show is a ratings ploy.
Several women compete for the attention of one man during the course of the show, with women being eliminated along the way if they don’t receive a rose. During the final episode of the show, the man generally picks one woman and asks her to marry him by giving her the final rose. So that it doesn’t appear to be sexist here in the 21st Century, there’s also a “Bachelorette,” version of the show.
“The Bachelor” will be back to deliver more drama and entertainment to its loyal viewers for Season 23, and Rep. Drew Christensen can go back to work in the Minnesota state legislature on issues instead of “experiments.”
The “experiment” in merging the world of entertainment and politics traditionally does not end well. Unless you count Rep. Christensen’s likely increased Twitter following, this was no exception.
Often Hollywood celebrities weigh in on political issues with completely uninformed, foolish opinions and the public’s response is “stick to show business.” The corollary principle is true for politicians: you’re not a celebrity, stick to politics.