Is Love Blind or Are We? An Ideological Approach to Reality
Any kind of competition reality show about love is already enforcing the myth of the American Dream. It reinforces the idea that failure is your fault, love is out there, and it’s up to you and your effort to be romantically successful. Beyond this observation of the genre as a whole, the show verifies society’s ideologies that fit the norm by omitting alternatives.
The premise that love should be based on emotional rather than physical connection reaffirms the American ideals of marriage. Marriage in America is based on finding emotional connection, whereas in other cultures it may be more focused on other aspects like social class, familial arrangement, or economic advantage. Rather than a historical materialist view, Love Is Blind takes on a culturalist ideology, with contestant LC saying that if you reject your need for love, you are lying and need to go to therapy. This statement seems true and comforting to many, but omitting the possibility that there may be people who are content in their singleness gaslights a viewer who may be thriving in independence.
The show uses multiple aspects of framing to omit ideologies. Men and women are immediately split up and blind to the opposite sex but not to each other. This reinforces heteronormative ideologies, as there is no room in the show’s premise to develop a same sex relationship. Secondly, referring to the show as an experiment frames two people falling in love without physical attraction as a rarity, only reiterating how deeply the idea of physical attraction is ingrained into our society. By calling it an experiment, it further entices the audience to watch it. Knowing that success is not guaranteed increases the show’s stakes. Furthermore, turning the show into a competition brings in ideas that human needs are in competition with one another, supporting a historical materialist perspective. This omits the idea of polygamy. While polygamy isn’t a widely accepted ideology, two men automatically assume they must fight and perform to get the girl rather than enter a polygamous relationship. Love Is Blind also assumes that romantic relationships evolve in a vacuum, with no other social life, work distraction or familial approval. Parental approval of a spouse is culturally important, and the omission of this attribute only reinforces the American value of individualism. Not including one ideology can consequently affirm another.
It’s important to consider our own ideologies and biases while analyzing pieces of media as well. It was personally shocking when Jessica and Barnett were crying that they were soulmates after they both expressed that they just want “someone to come home to." Considering both the human emotions at play in both the audience and the contestants is important to factor in. Contestants on this show have agreed to this production because they are most likely desperate. In the same way, the audience’s current dating situation may also affect how they analyze the dating situations. Someone single with high standards would find this low standard absurd. Simultaneously, someone going through a breakup may tear up at having the thought of merely having someone. As the audience, how we might perceive these relationships is relative to our current experience. Nevertheless, as the audience we must develop a critical eye about what the show portrays as normal. Love Is Blind omits rarer ideologies through framing, reiterating what a heteronormative, monogamous, marriage looks like in American society.