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I'm just going to say it: the "egg-throwing game" from Monday's episode of The Bachelor Pad is the most vile, horrifying and offensive thing I've ever seen on television. Years after Who Wants To Marry A Millionaire? and well into the Jersey Shore phenomenon we may have thought reality TV had gotten as bad as it ever could be, but the programming executives at ABC have somehow managed to lower the bar even further. Really, its almost impressive.
I don't watch The Bachelor Pad so I can only guess at the meaning of the game or how it fits into the show itself. All I know is that it involved lining up all the women in the show, clad in identical white bikinis, wearing blindfolds and with targets-- literally, targets!-- painted on to their backs. The men in the show then arrived and, standing about 20 yards away, were instructed to throw paint-filled "eggs" at the woman they either most wanted to vote off the show or found the least attractive. You can watch the whole thing go down here, but if you've got any memories of being bullied as a kid or any fear of being judged while standing in a bathing suit yourself, be warned: it's a little traumatic.
The whole thing goes from humiliating to horrifying when it comes clear that one contestant, Erica Rose, is going to be the target of nearly every egg. Streaked in paint and crying beneath her bandana, she's the embodiment of every childhood nightmare about being singled out and teased; when she defends herself in a talking-head interview by pointing out that there are heavier and less attractive girls in the lineup, it's cruel but somehow even more pathetic. Erica's just using the defense mechanism employed by every girl who's ever felt insecure-- "Sure I'm not that hot, but look at her!"-- except this time she's been literally pelted with eggs for the sin of not being attractive to the meatheads who didn't even have to look her in the eye while they attacked her. Yes, the guys had their turn being pelted by the eggs, but the hits were aimed at several men; no single contestant got the kind of focused beating that Erica did. And as much as we can claim to live in a gender-balanced society, women are far more likely than men to be objectified by the media and shamed for their imperfect bodies-- just ask "fat" Jessica Simpson how Turtle managed to sleep with so many women on Entourage. It's a double standard that Erica's vile treatment reinforces heartily.
I'm usually not inclined to feel sorry for reality show contestants-- they signed up for this, they're getting the fame they so desired, they definitely knew what they were getting in for on a show called The Bachelor Pad. But this egg stunt takes a degrading show and drags it down to abject humiliation, objectifying the women-- and yes, the men-- as mere targets on a shooting range and then punishing the one who isn't up to par. The media has spent months championing anti-bullying efforts like The It Gets Better Project, and then one of the nation's largest networks airs something like this, as all fun and games? And something like this is perfectly fine while the sight of Janet Jackson's nipple still echoes as a national scandal?
I don't care if Erica Rose is a bad person, if she signed up for this, if she was mean to the other contestants as a coping mechanism. Nobody deserves this treatment, and nobody should have to watch this as part of prime-time entertainment, particularly at an age when bullying not unlike this is part of everyday life. I've watched a lot of reality TV and felt ashamed for bothering to watch it. This makes me ashamed to be human.
Who's to blame for The Bachelor Pad's egg game?