As revealed by Yahoo Entertainment, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette host Chris Harrison is currently under fire for comments he made in defense of The Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell after she criticized for attending an Antebellum themed party and was accused of having made racist remarks towards her high school classmates.
The backlash was swift from the online community. Kirkconnell essentially had her entire history unearthed by the he social media mob. Additionally, her critics went as far as to dig up her parents’ voting records.
The irony being she is a contestant on the current season of The Bachelor. And she is currently competing in the hopes of marrying Matt James. James being the show’s first black bachelor.
It’s important to note that at the head of this issue are Warner Bros., who produces the show, and ABC, the network The Bachelor calls home.
There’s a lot happening in Hollywood, with audiences scrutinizing every movement. You would think that the ABC/Warner would try to avoid stepping in the middle of online diatribe. But as we learned from the recent Superman news- Even Warner Bros. can’t help but jump on the bandwagon. And so the show is suffering for it.
Interestingly, the medium caught in the wake of this latest cancel culture storm is usually a more neutral one. Unscripted television does feature its fair share of drama. This is all manufactured to build up tension. And this hooks viewers to tune in for subsequent episodes.
And while entertainment usually servers as a method of escapism from the issues troubling the outside world, those issues have unfortunately come banging on the door of The Bachelor, with the mob demanding that Harrison be fired.
Harrison was speaking with former Bachelor contestant and current Extra host Rachel Lindsay about this season of the Bachelor and what audiences could look forward to in the coming weeks. It’s all softball questions until Lindsay asks Harrison for his thoughts on the accusations of racism leveled against Kirkconnell.
“First and foremost, I don’t know. I haven’t talked to Rachael about it,” replied Harrison. “And this is again where we all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion, because I’ve seen some stuff online.. Again, this judge, jury, executioner thing where people are just tearing this girl’s life apart and diving into, like, her parents, her parents’ voting record.”
“It’s… unbelievably alarming to watch this,” he added. “I haven’t heard Rachael speak on this yet. And until I actually hear this woman have a chance to speak, who am I to say that any of this? “I saw a picture of her at a sorority party five years ago, and that’s it. Like, boom. Like, okay, this girl is in this book now, and she’s now in this group. And I’m like, really?”
After being interrupted by Lindsay, who asserts that Kirkconnell’s attendance of the Antebellum-themed wedding was ‘not a good look’, The Bachelor host countered by asking “Is it not a good look in 2018, or is not a good look in 2021? Because there’s a big difference.”
“It’s not a good look, ever,” argued Lindsay. “She’s celebrating the old south. If I went to that party, what would I represent at that party?”
Harrison then clarifies his position to Lindsay, stating, “I don’t disagree with you. You’re %100 right in 2021. That was not the case in 2018”
“Again, I’m not defending Rachael, I just know that I dunno, 50 million people did that in 2018, between, it’s like there were, that was a type of party that a lot of people went to,” said Harrison. ” Again, I’m not defending it, I didn’t go to it, we are not looking under the same lens. And that is the grace, the compassion, the understanding, with this girl at, I don’t know how old she would’ve been back then”
“I thought, historically, this mansion stood for this guys – it’s not really that woke that we’re here,” he continued. “We need to have the understanding and the compassion of this history of what this stood for, what the people who owned this mansion stood for. My guess? These girls got dressed up and went to a party and had a great time. They were 18 years old. Now, does it make that okay? I don’t know Rachel, you tell me. But, where is this lens that we’re holding up, and was that lens available, and were we all looking through it in 2018?”
Harrison then went on to talk about the adversity Kirkconnell has received from a brigade of an online mob, whom he calls the “Woke Police,” sharing his belief that Kirkconnell will eventually speak to her accusations herself,despite their attacks and denigration of her and the news that he had allegedly been on the receiving end of intense trolling from both left and right, liberal and conservative social media users.
He also said that whatever answer Kirkconnell that, “I’ve seen this movie, I know where this is going.”
However, Harrison did not think it wise for the show to make any movements on this either, telling Lindsay, “I don’t think it is incumbent upon The Bachelor franchise to speak out on everything that everyone wants to hear about on social media.”
“Just because, the toxic relationships or bullying, or whatever, it’s like, ‘Why hasn’t the franchise talked about this? Why hasn’t it talked about Rachael?'” said Harrison. “We’re not in the business of dealing with every problem that you have. That’s not how this works. We don’t have the time of day to handle everything that people come up with on social media.”
“What I do think is interesting, is the show does push these social issues,” he concluded. “I don’t believe the show needs to speak before Rachael does. I don’t think that’s fair.”
To that, Lindsay said she agreed and stated she looked forward to speaking with Kirkconnell about it as well. In the end, the discussion, by all accounts, looked like an amicable discussion where two colleagues who did not necessarily agree with the other’s opinion were able to at least understand their counterpart’s position.on
Ultimately, Harrison didn’t really take a position, instead choosing to leave the door open for explanation and discussion, while Lindsay was eager to ask other contestants, and particularly James himself, about everything that has transpired.
And then, almost overnight, the public perception of that interview changed drastically.
The Mob Chimes in
Soon after the interview, Lindsay would do a 180-degree turn on her position during a discussion with Billy Bush on Extra, expounding on unconscious biases, stereotypes and misconceptions before declaring that what Harrison said was wrong.
The Huffington Post writers Emma Gray and Claire Fallon would also slam Harrison in an op-ed. They headline their piece with a declaration that “Chris Harrison’s Recent Interview Proves He’s The Wrong Spokesperson For ‘The Bachelor'”.
“By going on the record to beseech the audience to have ‘grace’ for her and to wait patiently until she’s ready to speak before casting judgment. And to slam her critics as the ‘woke police,’ he’s sent a very clear signal that ‘The Bachelor’ will support white contestants over people of color who are hurt by their racist behavior,” the two wrote.
Matt James also saw the interview. And he chimed in with his thoughts about the situation on Instagram.
“Chris’s failure to receive and understand the emotional labor that my friend Rachel Lindsay was taking on by graciously and patiently explaining the racist history of the Antebellum South, a painful history that every American should understand intimately, was troubling and painful to watch,” wrote James.
“As Black people and allies immediately knew and understood. It was a clear reflection of a much larger issue that The Bachelor franchise has fallen short on addressing adequately for years.”
Taylor Nolan, a former Bachelor and Bachelor in Paradise contestant, shared her own opinion of Harrison. She told Yahoo Entertainment that she was “surprised that he didn’t catch himself.
“I was surprised that for as well-trained as he is, that he didn’t know he should probably shut his mouth because he’s about to show himself,” said Nolan. “He just let his truth out, which many of us already know, but he’s never done it in such an overt way. At the same time, I’m not surprised he didn’t catch himself because he really believes in what he was saying. He really didn’t think he was saying anything wrong. He thought that was a great conversation!”
She also added, “Who you vote for [does say something about you]. I think he was projecting onto Rachael K. These are things that people in the franchise… are well aware of. That Chris is more conservative, that he’s Republican, that he’s a very wealthy older white man in a high position of power who has rarely, if ever, shared his power with marginalized groups of people.”
Harrison has since apologized for the remarks he made during the interview, even going so far as to announce in an Instagram post that he will be stepping down as the host of The Bachelor.
“I have spent the last few days listening to the pain my words have cause, and I am deeply remorseful,” said Harrison. “My ignorance did damage to my friends, colleagues and strangers alike. I have no one to blame but myself for what I said and the way I spoke. set standards for myself, and have not met the. I feel that with every fiber of my being. Now, just as I taught my children to stand up, and to own their actions, I will do the same.
“By excusing historical racism, I defended it,” he added. “I invoked the term “woke police,” which is unacceptable. And ashamed over how uniformed I was. I was so wrong. To the Black community, to the BIPOC community; I am so sorry. My words were harmful. I am listening, and I truly apologize for my ignorance and any pain it caused you.”
Harrison continued, “I want to give my heartfelt thanks to the people from these communities who I’ve had enlightening conversations with over the past few days. And I am so grateful to those who have reached out to help me on my path to anti-racism.”
In a second image included in his Instagram post, Harrison added further. He spoke of ensuring “this historic of The Bachelor would not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions.”
He would be “Stepping aside for a period of time and will not join for the After The Final Rose Special”.
“I want to ensure our cast and crew members, to my friends, colleagues and our fans: this is not just a moment. But a commitment to much greater understanding that I will actively make every day. From here I can only try to evolve and be a better man. And I humble myself before all of you. I hope I will again live up to the expectations you all rightfully have for me and the expectations I have for myself.”
Conveniently, Lindsay is in talks to host The Bachelor for the After The Final Rose Special.
Eventually, Kirkconnell would also issue an apology for her ‘past racist behavior’. She told her followers on Instagram that “While there have been rumors circulating, there have also been truths that have come to light that I need to address.”
She admitted, “I hear you, and I’m here to say I was wrong.”
“At one point, I didn’t recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn’t excuse them,” said Kirkconnell. “My age or when it happened does not excuse anything. They are not acceptable or okay in any sense. was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist.”
“I am sorry to the communities and individuals that my actions harmed and offended,” she further apologized. “I am ashamed about my lack of education, but it is no one’s responsibility to educate me. I am also learning and will continue to learn how to be antiracist. Because it’s iomportant to speak up in the moment and not after you’re called out. If you are a person who doesn’t understand the offense in question, I urge you to learn from my mistakes and encourage you to use them as a teachable moment.”
“As I was thinking about what I wanted to say, I couldn’t help but think about how sick people must be reading these kinds of statements. How a person didn’t realize the trauma that their actions would inflict on other people,” Kirkconnell continued. “It must get so exhausting. I want to put my energy towards preventing people from making the same offensive mistakes that I made in the first place. And I hope I can prove this to you moving forward.”
“Racial progress and unity are impossible without (white) accountability, and I deserve to be held accountable for my actions. I will never grow unless I recognize what I have done is wrong. I don’t think one apology means that I deserve your forgiveness. But rather I hope rather I can earn your forgiveness through my future actions,” she concluded. She further noted in the post’s caption that “my statement and apology is for the people of color that I have offended. If you do not identify as BIPOC then it is not your apology to accept. Please be respectful to those who have been affected.”
In a follow-up video, Kirkconnell would implore white people to step up and take accountability. She declared that “things won’t change if we don’t work together toward the unity that we all want.” And that going forward she would “use her platform and privilege to shine a light on issues and do what [she] can to take a step in the right direction.”
Kirkconnell would also ask people to stop defending her. She states, “It’s not our place to tell people what they can and can’t be offended about. That’s wrong. And that’s part of the problem. So please stop saying that I did nothing wrong. That’s not true.”
She would also implore her audience to hold encourage her and others. “To learn what we can do to see these unconscious biases and this embedded racism that this country has.”
The Takes Keep On Rolling
However, there are critics of this move by Harrison. Political Satirist Tim Young told Fox News that Harrisons removal was cancel culture in full swing, asserting that “Essentially, Harrison is being canceled for noting the nuance of cancel culture, not for his support of going to some party. This is a meta-cancellation. He’s being canceled for pointing out that cancel culture has shifted in three years.”
Vice President of Media Research Center, Dan Gainor, called the entire situation surrounding Harrison “insanity.”
Yet, even after Harrisson and Kirkconnell’s apologies, the calls for cancellation did not stop. In a February 23rd episode of her Bachelor Happy Hour podcast, Lindsay described Kirkconnell’s Instagram posts as “vapid” and stated that “I don’t think [the situation] could get any worse, unless [James] chooses Rachael.”
It also appears that the the calls for Harrison’s cancellation have already reached a fever pitch. A source spoke with People about Harrison’s role for The Bachelor in the forseeable future. “A lot of work is being done behind the scenes to make the appropriate changes and proper moves going forward with the franchise.”
The source also noted that “There are talks happening regarding Chris Harrison and his future with the show.”
What do you think of the cancel culture seeping into unscripted television and making rounds in more areas of entertainment? Sound off in the comments below or let’s talk about it on social media!