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ABC’s “Brokeback Bachelor” promo shows how editing fakes reality

With a heavy assist by the celebrity and tabloid press, ABC has been promoting tonight’s episode of The Bachelorette by suggesting that Clint and JJ have fallen in love with each other. While this would be an interesting development, it appears to be entirely the product of editing, not reality.

ABC has long aired promos that are bullshit, with the shows failing to deliver anything remotely close to what’s in the promo. This, however, goes much further in its willingness to use its contestants to generate attention.

It’s also created some problematic responses. While he has embraced the attention, Clint apologized to his dad, as if being gay would be something to apologize for. Worse, he tweeted, “If you have to be a #BROKEBACKBACHELOR, Be Heath Ledger. Always be #HeathLedger.” That reference to Heath Ledger’s character in the film Brokeback Mountain seems to suggest that giving anal sex is preferable to receiving it, because Ledger’s character assumes the role of the top in anal sex with Jake Gyllenhaal’s character.

So,  yes, ABC’s fictional promos are now inspiring homophobic responses from its cast members who are nevertheless delighted by the attention.

ABC knows what it is doing, though, because it has the attention of the press and generates attention (ugh, I’m falling into their trap). Many publications have just willfully or ignorantly played along by taking this promo at face value and not actually thinking about it at all. ABC gave the promo to E!, and in its accompanying story, E! claims that “Clint looks like he has fallen hard.” No he doesn’t. Queerty insists Kaitlyn’s “heart was quickly broken when [Clint] declared his love for another man.” No it wasn’t; besides the promo being just a bunch of soundbites cobbled together, it shows nothing of Katilyn being sad about this not-actually-real situation.

The narrative is actually challenged by TMZ, though because the site traffics in stupidity, its badly written “exclusive” story says that Clint and JJ “are both straight as arrows” and “gave producers soundbites to run with.” Try again. If the two men were in on this as some kind of joke, the promo would be a lot less obvious in how it’s tried to create something from nothing.

A relationship created in editing

Without access to the raw footage, it’s impossible to know just how this was pieced together. But watching the promo offers enough information to show that Clint is not saying the things the promo suggests he’s saying.

For example, Clint seems to say, “We’ve grown very close in the shower.” But only three of those words, “in the shower,” are spoken while we also see his face. The other words sound different, because they were recorded at a different time and different place. They’re also spliced over other footage to make them seem like they’re part of what he’s saying in an interview.

That footage, of course, includes moments like the two men looking at each other–which I think is a thing that can happen between two men without them immediately retreating to the wilderness to have unlubricated anal sex in a tent and then fall in love.

Watch the promo, and then read the three most critical parts, which I’ve transcribed and broken into their various soundbites. You’ll see how unrelated things together have created something new. (Again, with the audio in voiceover, it’s hard to know where those clips come from; they themselves might have been spliced together from multiple, unrelated sentences.)

Clint, voiceover: “It’s absolutely insane.”

Clint, interview: “I never thought I’d meet someone like that.”

Clint, interview: “Falling in love with a man never crossed my mind.”

Clint, voiceover: “We’ve grown very close”

Clint, interview: “in the shower”

 

Joe, voiceover: “Clint and JJ”

Joe, interview: “they’re so into each other”

 

Clint, voiceover: “Kaitlyn’s not the right girl for me”

Clint, interview: “I love JJ.”

Clint, voiceover: “So I need the rose tonight.”

As you can see, Clint saying “I love JJ” is the only thing in the entire promo that is a whole sentence and, when interpreted literally, offers at least the possibility that there is romance. But of course, straight guys who are friends say they love each other.

It seems most likely that that sentence inspired someone at ABC or in The Bachelorette‘s production to construct a fake narrative around that. That’s what they do best.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means. Learn more about Andy.

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