“The Bachelor” director Matt James has broken his silence over the escalating controversy surrounding the show as longtime host Chris Harrison remains under fire during a recent interview for perpetuating racism.
James, the first black star of “The Bachelor,” not only calls Harrison out for his “disturbing and painful” words, but blames the entire franchise for dealing with diversity and race over the two decades that it has taken place -Air.
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“The past few weeks have been some of the most challenging of my life, and while there are still some episodes of the season left, it’s important that I take the time to address the worrying information that has come to light since we finished filming. James posted on his Instagram on Monday, hours before a new episode of “The Bachelor” airs on ABC.
The controversy first broke out earlier this year when previous photos of contestant Rachael Kirkconnell – a current front runner still running in James’ season – surfaced on social media and viewed them at an aKirkconnell has also been charged with racially insensitive behavior on TikTok, including preferences for photos with the Confederate flag.
Harrison then hit the entertainment newscast “Extra” to sit down with former Bachelorette correspondent Rachel Lindsay, who asked Harrison about the Kirkconnell controversy. During the lengthy discussion with Lindsay, Harrison went to great lengths to appear to defend Kirkconnell, which sparked widespread criticism and resulted in Harrison apologizing for “speaking in a way that perpetuates racism”.
Shortly thereafter, Harrison announced that he would be leaving the franchise for an undisclosed period of time, including not appearing on “After the Final Rose,” which will serve as the final episode of James’ season.
In his statement on Monday, James questioned both Harrison and the “incredibly disappointing” photos of Kirkconnell, in addition to the entire franchise, which he said “fell short” on dealing with diversity and race.
“The reality is that I am learning about these situations in real time, and it has been devastating and heartbreaking to put it clearly,” wrote James.
“Chris’s failure to receive and understand the emotional work that my friend Rachel Lindsay did in graciously and patiently clarifying the racist story of Antebellum South, a painful story that every American should fully understand, was troubling and painful to look at, “James continued. “As blacks and allies knew and understood immediately, this was a clear reflection of a much larger problem that ‘The Bachelor’ franchise has not adequately addressed in years.”
“That moment sparked critical discussions and reports, raised important questions and inspired inspirational solidarity from the Bachelor nation,” continued James. “It also made me reevaluate and process my experience with ‘The Bachelor’, not just for myself but for all the color candidates, especially the black candidates of this and past seasons, and for you, the audience too Home. “
James concluded his heartfelt statement by writing, “I will process this experience further and you will hear more from me in the end. My greatest prayer is that this will be a turning point that will lead to real and institutional change for the better. “
Previously, James had spoken about Kirkconnell’s social media photos, but his first comments came before Harrison’s controversial interview and before any further information about Kirkconnell came to light – at that point the candidate had not yet spoken about the authenticity of the photos.
“I haven’t spoken to anyone since the show ended, but I would say you have to be really careful what you do on social media,” James said in an interview with Entertainment Tonight in early February when asked about the allegations. “Rumors are dark and evil and can ruin people’s lives. So I would give people the benefit of the doubt and hopefully they have time to talk about it. “
As James wrote on his social media on Monday, he and the viewers at home have discovered new information since the filming of his season.
Shortly after Harrison’s “extra” interview with Lindsay, Kirkconnell made her own apology. “While rumors have circulated, truths have also come to light that I need to address. I hear you and I am here to say I was wrong, ”Kirkconnell wrote in part. “At some point I didn’t realize how insulting and racist my actions were, but that doesn’t excuse them … I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist.”
As the controversy escalated, many candidates from “The Bachelor” have come together to speak out against the franchise’s racial issues, including 25 women from James’ season who have had a variety of performers so far.
“We are the women of the ‘Bachelor’ season 25,” the women announced earlier this month. “25 women who identify as BIPOC were cast in this historic season that was meant to represent changes. We are deeply disappointed and want to make it clear that we denounce any defense of racism. Any defense of racist behavior denies the lived and continued experiences of BIPOC individuals. These experiences must not be exploited or symbolized. “
ABC has not yet issued an opinion on the controversy at this point. diversity has asked the network to comment on James’ post.
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