Match Made in Heaven?
Nancy Jennings, American Renaissance, February 13, 2015
The media try very hard to elevate blacks to a central place in American culture. In recent years, Hollywood has had its hands full with two projects: creating largely-fictitious films about black heroes overcoming oppressive whites (Django Unchained, 12 Years A Slave, The Help, Selma); and re-shooting older, race-neutral movies by replacing the original white actors with blacks (Steel Magnolias, Annie, About Last Night).
On television, back programming hasn’t enjoyed mainstream success since The Cosby Show. Tyler Perry creates Afrocentric entertainment for primarily-black audiences, and that’s how it should be. But that doesn’t stop blacks from wanting to share some of the success of such popular shows as Survivor, The Walking Dead, Modern Family, and Grey’s Anatomy. These programs have raked in billions and make their producers and stars millionaires. Blacks want their “fair share.”
So it’s not surprising that Black Hollywood, which has few original ideas of its own, is trying to imitate the success of the pop culture megahit The Bachelor–this time with a black cast. That wasn’t their first choice. As producer Mike Fleiss made a fortune every season, the bruthas wanted to get a piece of his action by trying to make him cast a black bachelor.
When Mr. Fleiss declined, they sued him, his production company, and ABC, claiming that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 required blacks onscreen. Luckily, the judge saw that this was a frivolous attempt to extort money.
Hollywood therefore decided to create Match Made in Heaven, television’s first Afrocentric dating show. The lead, a never-married but once-engaged Philadelphian named Shawn Bullard, calls himself a “property developer/entrepreneur.” He dates a group of 24 women of varying races/ethnicities, gradually narrowing his choices until he settles on a “winner.” He is quick to point out that the show puts no pressure on him to propose.
There have been interviews with Mr. Bullard all over the internet, and he emphasizes that Match Made in Heaven shouldn’t be mistaken for that other show, The Bachelor. Mr. Bullard believes his show is better:
I feel the production company and WeTV made sure that [our] show had style. It was shot a certain way, the dates are amazing, and the women I chose from were very diverse. [emphasis mine]
The millions that The Bachelor spent on mountaintop mansions, fleets of limos and luxury sports cars, private planes and helicopter rides, white sandy beaches at five-star resorts, private concerts by established artists, not to mention overnight fantasy-suite dates in exotic locales worldwide apparently did not qualify as style.
Evidently what does qualify is Mr. Bullard’s mother–yes, his mother–who, in a truly startling innovation, is a kind of co-star on the program. She appears halfway through the first episode with this self-introduction: “You don’ know me! I’ll fuck up a bitch for messin’ up my son’s heart!” In the second episode, she moves into the girls’ house, where she gives them speeches, and tattles on them to her son if she digs up any dirt.
The host of the show, Pastor Ken Johnson, is utterly different from Chris Harrison, the long-standing host of The Bachelor. Mr. Harrison was calm, classy, and deferential. His role was to keep the show moving, appearing now and then to give the girls instructions, or to comfort the bachelor when he had to let down an especially vulnerable girl. Mr. Harrison was the perfect balance between detached and approachable, and spent very little time on-camera other than to comfort the week’s losers.
Pastor Johnson, on the other hand, is the stereotypical overexcited, wildly gesticulating, head shaking, fist-pumping black televangelist–the kind who yells “Oooooo-eee!” and “Praise the Lord!” for no apparent reason. He mixes vaguely-religious-sounding phrases with black lingo and dresses like a Vegas pimp covered in jewelry.
He hogs the camera and shows up everywhere. For example, the women may be introducing themselves, when all of a sudden Pastor Johnson pops on screen:
Contestant: I’ve always pictured myself with a man, married to a man, starting a family, . . . . (quick cut to the pastor)
Pastor: It’s gon’ be a wild ride! Get ready! Hee hee hee!
Here is a clip of the pastor having a mini-seizure when a woman talks about her shoe collection. It’s bizarre.
The Pastor is also a “mentor and adviser,” helping Mr. Bullard avoid the same mistakes he claims to have made with his previous failed engagement. The bachelor says he “never wants to lead someone on and hurt a person again.”
Mr. Bullard doesn’t seem to understand the premise of the show. A bachelor saying he never wants to lead someone on is like a defensive tackle saying, “I’m really excited about the game, but I’m not going to knock anyone down.” Hurt feelings are as important to the show’s success as skimpy bikinis.
One controversial MMIH innovation is how the losers are kicked to the curb. No red roses for them. Instead, the girls get special white phones, and get the good (or bad) news by text message. My guess is that the producers wisely saw the need to put a little physical distance between Mr. Bullard and a gang of angry black women he’s just dumped on national television. Mr. Bullard gets a running start if he needs one.
With his new-found publicity as “America’s First Black Bachelor,” Mr. Bullard now thinks it’s his job to dispense wisdom on social issues. In one interview, he explained why being the bachelor is so important:
For me, it was a great opportunity to show America that men of color, black men, are educated, are successful, we know how to court a woman. Especially in the moment of Michael Brown and ‘I can’t breathe.’ We need a different of type of a role model in the black community. To be successful, we don’t have to be a baller, or an entertainer. We can be CEOs, entrepreneurs. I cherish the moment to be able to express that on the show.
So what kind of role model is Mr. Bullard? He seems like a typical black stud: big muscles, lots of tattoos, broad smile. We get different details at WhoseYourLandlord.com, where renters rate their landlords. It appears that this “real estate developer” rents out properties, mostly to college kids looking for cheap off-campus housing.
He gets some nice reviews, and some may be real, but unhappy tenants accuse him of writing the good ones himself. These former tenants certainly don’t see him as a role model:
“Rent from someone else and let this maggot wither away so he can’t scam other earnest students.”
“Had to be the worst landlord ever! He preys on black females and attends all the college parties . . . stay away!”
“[B]e prepared for him to hit on you. I’m not talking about harmless flirting. I’m talking about inappropriate touching and trying to lure you to the bedroom. He’s a sick fucking creep . . . .”
“HES A LIAR. STAY AWAY FROM THIS MAN.”
“I cant stand him and I wouldn’t recommend renting from him.”
“This guy is a complete piece of shit.”
If Mr. Bullard had been cast in The Bachelor, I’d accuse Mike Fleiss of not vetting him, but he may be the best available. He is a single black man, never married, allegedly with no children, felonies, or outstanding warrants.
The first episode of MMIH spoke volumes about Mr. Bullard’s taste in women. He says he is looking for an “educated, confident” woman to marry, but he kept the sleaziest, loudest, most obnoxious bimbos with the six-inch-long fingernails and tattoos. He unceremoniously dumped the few refined girls in the group, such as the articulate, soft-spoken law student. Perhaps that was good strategy: Anyone with class would probably see right through him.
For the time being, Shawn Bullard gets to play the part of Most Eligible Bachelor and flex his muscles on television while women fight over him and he promotes himself and his real estate business. Time will tell whether he will find love on national television. But one thing is certain: Shawn Bullard is in love . . . with Shawn Bullard.