So mocking the former Bachelor contestant for it isn’t *really* a drag
@madiprewwe got this one @tonyaprew @coachprew ##MakeMomSmile ##momsoftiktok ##guess ##fyp♬ original sound – madiprew
In response to the video, one TikTok follower tried to low-key drag Madi for how much the phrase applies to her real life, commenting: “[It’s] funny cause Madie [sic] wants to be an influencer.” Madison quickly responded to the comment, writing back: “So bad I’m dyingggggggg to be one!!!!” We get the sense that the Bachelor runner-up’s comment was meant to be a joke, but Madi, girl, sarcasm does *not* always come across on social media.
But more importantly, so what if Madison—and really anyone from Bachelor nation—wants to become an influencer? Thirty-plus seasons into the hit franchise, it’s pretty much been established that people go on the show for either a) the wrong reasons (a.k.a. fame and notoriety), or b) to maybe find love but to 100% find fame. Because TBH, with 30+ contestants and one suitor in a single season the odds are more in favour of a person finding fame than a husband or wife. Either way, the fact that most contestants leave the show as influencers of sorts—or at least with a couple thousand more followers—is a given. And honestly, why should they be ashamed of it—because most of us non-C-list celebs are looking for online fame as well.
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The Bachelor has always been about getting views
Although the women on Peter’s season of The Bachelor, which Madi took part in, were arguably the pettiest and worst group of contestants in the show’s history, it’s not like they invented the Bachelor-to-influencer pipeline. Contestants have been parlaying their screen time into brand deals and sponsorships for years. Former Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe has made a career off her on-screen quirks (you know, loving wine and being generally spunky), with Kaitlyn launching her Off the Vine podcast and line of wines. Former Bachelor Colton Underwood also capitalized on his time on the show, releasing a book in March about his experience on the show that directly referenced his season’s iconic fence-jumping moment.
Contestants have also been partnering with clothing brands to give them publicity and exposure in exchange for free clothes to wear on the show. The world watches these men and women fall in love and make fools of themselves, so why wouldn’t they also want to watch out for what they’re wearing while doing it?
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But the way people view Bachelor contestants *has* changed
What has really changed, and contributed to the rise of Bach contestants-turned-influencers, is the way we view celebrity. A change that is, perhaps, in part due to the popularity of the Kardashian family, whose transition from reality TV stars to certifiable celebs has opened the door for others to follow suit. As viewers, we’ve begun to perceive the stars of our fave reality shows, like Love Is Blind, Vanderpump Rules and The Bachelor, as bona fide celebs. As much as the Kardashian-Jenners (and Kim Kardashian West, specifically) are criticized for getting famous for “doing nothing,” you can’t deny that they’ve secured themselves firm A-list celeb status through the use of social media and their ability to control their own narratives.
Many cultural critics have tried to put their finger on what *exactly* accelerated the famous family to elite star status, and a large part of it seems to be due to the perfect storm of factors, including the rise of social media during the 2010s. In a December 2109 article for BuzzFeed, writer Zan Romanoff talked specifically about this timing, and how well it aligned with the demise of print media. “At the same time that free internet content was eating into print revenues, celebrities’ ability to tell their stories on their own social platforms was also eradicating their reliance on traditional media,” Romanoff wrote. “Magazines needed cover stars they knew would attract attention, so having a strong social following made you not just popular but powerful. And whatever else the Kardashians lacked—talent, class, a clear reason for being famous—they had a stranglehold on public attention, and the ability to direct that attention as they saw fit.”
And it’s 100% true. The rise of social media has changed how viewers engage with celebrities. We no longer want someone unattainable, but rather, someone we can chat with on IG Live, subtweet and DM. While Anna Wintour inviting KKW to the 2013 Met Gala and putting her on the cover of Vogue in 2014 solidified the reality TV maven as someone notable, in 2020 magazines like Vogue no longer dictate who the top celebrities are. Instead, it’s online virality and popularity that has made TikTok stars, YouTubers and Insta-famous models like Gigi Hadid to grace the covers of major mags because of their ability to garner views.
And it’s this switch in industry gatekeepers that allows for hunks like The Bachelorette‘s Tyler C. to ultimately thrive and ascend to celebrity status, starting as a contractor starring in a reality TV show, becoming an in-demand model, dating a legit A-lister and now, starring in his own show on Quibi.
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And so has the way we interact with social media
It’s not only C-listers and people on The Bachelor who are using social media—and their growing audiences—to become influencers. A lot of us regular folks are doing it, too. Social media is the main way to communicate, whether that’s on a personal level with our friends or a professional level as a way to brand ourselves (something that’s now more important than ever to do in the gig and freelancer economy). Plus, with consumers looking for more and more transparency in their advertising, being a social media influencer has become a somewhat viable and acceptable career option. Even if you’re someone who’s not explicitly looking to become a full-time influencer, are there really that many among us who *don’t* post an Instagram photo wondering if maybe Mejuri will send you a free ring or necklace to show-off on the ’gram? Probably not. (And even then, they’re likely a dying breed of social media user.)
And so what?
Which is all to say that dragging people on reality shows (or IRL) for trying to gain a little online clout (and maybe a sponsorship deal with Revolve) isn’t actually that effective or hurtful. Because TBH, we’re all doing it to one degree or another. And to be even more honest, we should really respect people’s hustle.
I have complicated feelings about the Kardashian-Jenner family and their seriously problematic ways, but there’s no denying that they’re famous for a reason—and a lot of that reason has to do with their own hustle and talent for branding themselves online. It takes work and that shouldn’t be overlooked.
So yes, maybe Madi *does* want to become a social media influencer. And if that’s the case, our only question is: so what?