On “The Bachelor Watches ‘The Bachelor’” by Jacob Saenz
Click here to read the poem.
In the poem, “The Bachelor Watches the Bachelor” by Jacob Saenz, the author states his opinion on the the world clearly by attacking the popular television show The Bachelor . He compares his life to those on the show. He doesn’t support the status quo “patriarchal idea of what a family should be” (12–14) in which most desire. The man criticizes the fact that the dates on The Bachelor are a sort of fairytale and that they are unrealistic and impersonal, the opposite of what most people want in a relationship. The poem emphasizes the issues that this bachelor has of marriage, American history, and societal trends towards technology and away from living in the moment.
The poem makes clear that the speaker does not support the current view of the normal family structure of marriage between a man and a woman. The speaker states “I’m contractually obligated / to propose to a woman who believes / in a heteronormative, patriarchal / idea of what a family should be” (11–14). By stating this with strong terms, the speaker reduces the system of marriage to a negative concept. For example, the speaker uses the phrase “I’m contractually obligated…” (11), taking the personal element out of the marriage proposal. He also takes away the sense of free choice that the character has by making it an obligation, turning the idea of this proposal into a form of slavery or punishment. Another way that the speaker turns this proposal into a negative action is with his use of the words “heteronormative” (13) and “patriarchal.” (13) The speaker is attempting to say that the woman he’s forced to propose to is in favor of a sexual orientation that he opposes. By using the word “patriarchal”(13), which means a system of government controlled by men, he is associating marriage with sexism, stating that marriage holds women down and allows men to run society. This all shows the author dislike of societal ideas of marriage and family.
In addition to the speakers dislike of societal norms of marriage and family he also disagrees with the way American history is taught. The phrase from the poem that shows how the speaker feels politically is “On another show date, I take two women into South / Dakota where we fly over the heads of white / slave owners carved into a sacred Native mountain.” (32–34) In these lines, referring to Mount Rushmore, the speaker reduces men that society looks up to into nothing more than white slave owners. The speaker’s angry terminology shows that he disagrees with how Americans view history. He feels American history should be viewed to include its negative points; for example, how terribly woman, blacks and other minorities were treated.
The speaker very subtly states his opinion about technology in society. The speaker also demonstrates how he feels about the show when he says, “At the end of every episode, I offer / roses to those I wish to make out w / more / & take out on prepackaged romantic dates / I could never afford on my bachelor budget.” (15–18) By using the term “pre-packaged”(17), making the dates seem impersonal, taking away the romantic meaning. The speaker also addresses the fact that he could not afford such dates, adding another element of negativity. This line attempts to say that society is going in the wrong direction because instead of personal romantic gestures, we fall into a trend of making impersonal ones. Instead of living life in the moment, we live through technology and watch shows like The Bachelor to see people doing things that we could not afford to do. The speaker uses his poem to show that the popular television show, The Bachelor, highlights many issues that he has with society; the societal view of marriage, of respecting people in history despite their treatment of minorities , and living life through technology rather than in the moment.
When I first read my poem the question that I asked was, what can I tell about how the author feels about the bachelor and about society. The first way that I attempted to answer this question was by reading the poem and looking for the deeper meaning the speaker was attempting to convey. I attempted to do this by studying the subtle complexities of the language the speaker used to get his point across. The first example I found of this use of language was the way that he chose to describe how he had to propose to a women. He said it by stating that he was “contractually obligated/ to propose,” making it seem as though he were a slave. This showed me that the author disagreed with the way the bachelor works. That was a negative, hinting to me that the next statement would also be negative. The next terms that the author chose to use were “heteronormative” and “patriarchal.” The fact that he used these terms directly, after displaying he didn’t like the bachelor, shows that he disagrees with the idea of heteronormative marriages. Another time the author uses subtle language to display his feeling about society is when he says “I take two women into South / Dakota where we fly over the heads of white / slave owners carved into a sacred Native mountain.” From this line I realized that he disagrees with societal norms because he dislikes men that mistreated minorities, though most of society glosses over this fact. The final instance where the speaker displays his disagreement with society is when he says he takes women out on pre packaged dates. This showed me that he disagrees with the way society operates. “Pre packaged” implies that the date is impersonal, which is how he believes society has become. It also displays that he feels society lives through technology by watching shows such as “The Bachelor” in order to have life experiences.