‘The Bachelor’ spoilers find that Matt James has finally made an official statement in regards to the racism controversy surrounding his season of The Bachelor.
James wrote in part that “The past few weeks have been some of the most challenging of my life.” He recognized it was important he “address the troubling information that has come to light” and called the photos of Rachael Kirkconnell, current front runner and the bachelorette most likely to walk away with both Matt’s final rose and a big Neil Lane sparkler, “incredibly disappointing.”
‘The Bachelor’ Spoilers: Matt James Breaks His Silence in Powerful Statement.
For those who have been living under a rock, Kirkconnell was first accused by an ex high school classmate as being racist, ridiculing the girl for “dating black guys”. After a deep dive of her social media, Bachelor fans found that Kirconnell had ‘liked’ several posts with racial undertones, including friends posing with confederate flags.
But it was when a troubling photo of Kirkconnell in college at an Old South Antebellum party surfaced, and Harrison defended this photo to black former bachelorette Rachel Lindsay when she spoke with the long time host as a correspondent for Extra, that things got real.
James’ statement continued with him explaining he’d learned of the situations (referring to the allegations of Kirkconnell’s racist past and Harrison’s poorly received interview with Lindsay) in real time, meaning along with the audience as episodes from his season 25 are still airing, and it “has been devastating and heartbreaking.”
He said the Extra interview and Harrison’s “failure to receive and understand” as Lindsay patiently attempted to explain what James believed as “a piece of history that every American should understand intimately” was “painful to watch”.
James further wrote that he appreciated the conversation and questions the controversy has started and commended the solidarity of Bachelor Nation. He described how he was pushed to process his experience on the show on a different level–not just for himself but all BIPOC contestants past, present and future, as well as the home audience.
This sparked fans to speculate over what this might mean for the relationship between with James and Kirkconnell, if there currently is one.
James concluded his written statement by assuring fans this won’t be the last thing he has to say on the subject and finished with “My greatest prayer is that this is an inflection point that results in real and institutional change for the better.”
James was much applauded for his eloquent statement with Rachel Lindsay commenting on the IG post,
For his part, Chris Harrison has apologized and made the decision to step aside for the rest of the season. While we know this means he will not host the After the Final Rose live finale, fans wondered if it meant the remaining episodes would be re-edited to remove some of Harrison’s airtime.
This appears to not be the case as previews for next week’s Women Tell All is still hosted by Harrison and the subsequent weeks were previewed to be Harrison-heavy as he guides James through his final weeks as the Bachelor.
The Bachelor has long been plagued by allegations of racism with almost zero diversity among contestants until recent years. Rachel Lindsay debuted as the first ever black lead in 2017. The franchise has been on air since 2002. Since her tenure as The Bachelorette, Lindsay has been an advocate for, and pushed for representation of people of color on the show.
The producers behind had vowed to do better when it came to diversity and representation on their hit ABC franchise, casting James as the first black male lead for this current season 25. However, even though James’ season does have the most contestants of color of any season with 25 women identifying as a person of color and 13 women identifying as white, the airtime has proven to be skewed to be in the white contestant’s favor.
Data and picture courtesy of @bachelordata
One could try to argue that editing will favor women who make it far in the show so viewers become emotionally invested, however, three of the four finalist are women of color.
Since Harrison’s step down, speculation has run rampant about Lindsay taking over the hosting role, not only the After The Final Rose live special but Harrison’s hosting duties for upcoming seasons. As far as we know, Harrison has not stepped aside for good yet, however, Lindsay considered the offer saying, “It’s hard for me to think about being host. It’s really toxic and tough. And then, could I talk like this? I don’t want to be muzzled. I really don’t know, I don’t know if it’s for me.”
Lindsay had previously threatened not to renew her Bachelor contract when it expires, so taking on more of a role seems unlikely.
Other names that have been tossed around are JoJo Fletcher, the Bachelorette of season 12 who stepped in for Harrison during the Bachelorette season 16 when Harrison left the covid-bubble filmed show to settle his oldest son in to college, and Wells Adams, a contestant on Jojo’s season and bartender/sounding board on Bachelor spin off- Bachelor in Paradise.
‘The Bachelor’ Spoilers: No word has come from either of JoJo or Wells’ camps at this stage.
Only time will tell if Harrison steps away from the role that has made him a household name forever, and if so, who will step into his well-worn shoes. One thing that is certain is that if the past few weeks are anything to go by, this isn’t going to ‘blow over’ like any previous Bachelor scandals have. Hopefully this means we will see some real change and some real diversity on our screens…if the show goes on.
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