Just as much as his impossibly decorated and lengthy NBA career, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will be remembered for being an unfailingly thoughtful, intelligent and passionate citizen, who is occasionally kind of a goof. And on Monday, he published a guest essay in The Hollywood Reporter on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette and their collective, negative impact on American society. It’s as perfectly Kareem as a sky hook.
Kareem’s central thesis is a sound one, and one many reasonable folks can agree on — the shows are harmless entertainment in a vacuum, but their ubiquity and popularity gives them an outsized impact on culture, and their insistence on mainstream body image and dialogue dumbed down for drama has a harmful effect when it’s broadcast to so many young, impressionable minds. Once he’s established his point, though, he launches into his wonderfully unique voice, which is pretty much him using laughably florid language to make points he’s quite serious about.
So, what’s so wrong with a little harmless entertainment of watching people scramble for “love” like ravenous crabs on a washed up seal corpse? In the short term, nothing. Just good, clean fun. But the long-term effects of their choices — from the types of people selected to be on the show to the promotion of a subversive, childish concept of love — is like smoking or listening to Kenny G: it can have serious consequences.
It’s like an 18th-century satirist giving an after-school special, and it is delightful. One more: