New Season, New Drama

For 7.8 million people, winter wasn’t too cold and lonely.  Their break was filled with anticipation and whispers about Juan Pablo Galavis, the new bachelor on ABC’s hit show The Bachelor.  As the first Latino to be featured on the show, his good looks and Spanish accent had women across the country swooning.  Now, almost three weeks later, Juan Pablo is still causing a stir – but for very different reasons.

In an interview this past week, Juan Pablo gave a very controversial answer to whether he thought The Bachelor should make a gay or bisexual version of the show.

“I respect [gay people], but I don’t think it is a good example for kids to watch that,” he said.  “There’s this thing about gay people — it seems to be, I don’t know if I’m mistaken or not — I have a lot of friends like that, but they’re more pervert in a sense.”

Bachelor Nation recoiled at Galavis’ less-than-sexy response.  Some Juan Pablo fans rushed to his defense, but members of the gay community were more outspoken.  One Facebook user accused Galavis of knowing exactly what he was saying, as “pervertido” is the Spanish word for pervert.

Even Bachelor producers felt the need to do some public relations acrobatics.  Producers tried to shift any blame away from the show and entirely onto Galavis, saying “Juan Pablo’s comments were careless, thoughtless and insensitive, and in no way reflect the views of the network, the show’s producers or studio.”

juan pablo

Juan Pablo later apologized through Facebook. He insisted that throughout the interview, he had nothing but respect for gay people and their families.  He did not mean to use the word pervert, but misspoke because of his limited English vocabulary.  He claimed to have only meant that gay people are more affectionate and intense, which might not be viewed positively by some of the TV audience.

Juan Pablo probably meant to use apologia, a rhetoric in communication that is used in defense for one’s actions or opinions.  However, to many members of the gay community, it was perceived as a non-apology apology – something quite the opposite.  A term that first appeared in the ’70s, a non-apology is when you apologize – but only if you have to.  Many celebrities or companies involved in a scandal will attempt to enact crisis communication by “apologizing” for offending anyone, rather than for their actions.   To the public eye, Juan Pablo’s apology had non-apologetic written all over it.  Pulling the “I-don’t-speak-English-so-good” card as one CNN reporter so delicately put it, is one such red flag.

Was Juan Pablo sincere in his apology? Or was he just trying to cover up some ill-used “palabras”?

– Christine Schulze