By now, everyone should be up to speed on what’s been described as the Chris Harrison controversy. The only host in the history of “The Bachelor” franchise talked back to cancel culture when it came for one of this season’s contestants over purportedly racist college photos, and he was defamed as a racist himself and canceled. What’s happening now, however, is interesting.
Harrison’s gotten the boot, and former NFL player Emmanuel Acho is here to host in his place for the finale. Obviously, “The Bachelor” producers decided they needed a black man to host, regardless of whether he had any relationship with the franchise. One question nags, however: Why is it that he is allowed to host but Harrison isn’t? — because as it turns out, Acho’s remarks on the Rachael Kirkconnell racial controversy were basically the same as Harrison’s.
“What is the main thing you wanted to get across?” Rachel Lindsay, the former Bachelorette and “Extra TV” host whose infamous interview with Harrison sparked the whole cancel fiasco, asked Acho in a different interview about his upcoming hosting duties and his relationship with Harrison.
Now pay attention to his answer:
Number one is to reconcile. There is so much tension between the photos that have surfaced around Rachael Kirkconnell that’s like, wait a second — let’s try to seek understanding first before we seek tension.
Hold the phone. You might have missed Acho’s answer because instead of harping on it, erupting the internet over it, and hanging this new host out to dry, as she did with Harrison, Lindsay just breezed right past his answer — an answer that was perfectly fine, by the way. But “wait a second — let’s try to seek understanding first before we seek tension,” sounds an awful lot like, “I’m not defending it. … [But] this is again where we all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion.”
While it might be hard to remember what exactly Harrison’s fireable sin was because the entire situation has been reduced to the “Chris Harrison racism controversy” (a complete misnomer), it was that sentiment. Harrison’s interview segment was much longer than Acho’s one-liner, but the takeaway was the same on that point. Harrison pumped the brakes on what he called the “judge, jury, and executioner thing,” and suddenly he was a racist sympathizer. So when Acho pumps the brakes over the Kirkconnell photo tension — what does that make him?
The whole Harrison debacle has been ridiculous from the outset, but the rules are now clear. It isn’t the message that matters; it’s the messenger, and it seems identity politics decides which messengers are safe and which must burn.
Many critics will tell you “The Bachelor” has a bad track record of racial diversity. Now, however, the franchise has a new racism problem on its hands: ABC now seems to be making its firing decisions solely based on race, as the lack of uproar over Acho’s comments make clear. At “The Bachelor,” job security is a coin flip: heads, black man stays; tails, white man goes. That’s equity, baby.