Corinne and DeMario: Please Stop Your Troubling Spectacle Of A Relationship Right Now
Whether you’re a devout member of “Bachelor Nation” or you couldn’t care less about 20 and 30-something’s misguided attempts to find love, there was one storyline you couldn’t help but take a bit of interest in: DeMario Jackson and Corinne Olympios. For the first time in its surprisingly long, 15-year history, the silly controversies that are usually associated with “The Bachelor,” “The Bachelorette,” or “Bachelor in Paradise (BIP),” gave way to a very serious accusation of sexual misconduct on the part of Jackson.
Let’s set the scene a bit.
Jackson and Olympios were co-stars on this year’s season of “Bachelor in Paradise,” an off-shoot of the larger franchise in which former contestants are tossed onto an island to try and find a love connection with another member of the “Bachelor” family. More so than “The Bachelor,” BIP feels more like a real dating scenario, allowing men and women to gravitate toward whomever they are most attracted to, not forced to compete against each other for just one person’s affections. And because of this dynamic and the less structured atmosphere of the show, the boozing, flirting and hooking up are definitely taken up a few notches.
Amid all of this boozy fun this season you had DeMario Jackson and Corinne Olympios. Neither were angels on their respective seasons (Jackson was ousted after it was revealed he had a girlfriend that he “dumped” to appear on the show; Olympios was known as her season’s villain and a woman obsessed with using her feminine wiles and platinum “vageen” to get what she wanted). But when BIP came knocking on their doors both accepted and off to paradise they went. According to reports, the two hit it off almost immediately and began to demonstrate their attraction to one another pretty publicly.
And that’s when things went terribly awry.
A sexual encounter near the set’s pool area alarmed a show producer enough that she reported the incident and said that misconduct on the part of Jackson had taken place, claiming Olympios was unable to give consent. Production was shut down immediately as an investigation was launched and the media swarmed around the story. The weeks to come featured an abundance of conflicting reports and, most notably, silence on the part of Olympios. In her first original statement following the incident Olympios said:
“I am a victim and have spent the last week trying to make sense of what happened on June 4. Although I have little memory of that night, something bad obviously took place, which I understand is why production on the show has now been suspended and a producer on the show has filed a complaint against the production. As a woman, this is my worst nightmare and it has now become my reality. As I pursue the details and facts surrounding that night and the immediate days after, I have retained a group of professionals to ensure that what happened on June 4 comes to light and I can continue my life, including hiring an attorney to obtain justice and seeking therapy to begin dealing with the physical and emotional trauma stemming from that evening.”
Her use of the word “victim” struck a notable chord with fans and co-stars alike who took issue with the positioning of Jackson as the perpetrator and her as the innocant one in the situation.
Jackson defended his innocence, recounting that the incident was merely two consenting adults doing what they wanted and that show producers had, either intentionally or otherwise, fallen in line with an age-old racist trope of there inherently being something wrong with a Black man and white woman being intimate. After what seemed to be far too long, ABC confirmed that their investigation had found no wrongdoing and production resumed (sans Jackson and Olympios, of course). It took Olympios notably longer to come out and admit that what happened had been blown drastically out of proportion and that Jackson and her were both victims of a media circus.
The two seemed to make amends in the followings weeks. And if it had ended there, as a mutual acknowledgement that something terrible had been manufactured from an adult interaction and that both had risen above it, we would have been fine. But what is starting to get under our skin is that these two seem to be packing on the PDA at every turn. OK, every turn might be a bit of hyperbole, but it’s surely more than we’d like to see.
Let me explain: It’s not that we are still convinced that Jackson was somehow at fault. It’s not that we think Olympios should be punished until the end of time. It’s that after an incident that left such a horrendous stain on both parties, why they would want to continue to visit the same well is beyond us. Particularly in Jackson’s case, we really wish he would leave Olympios in the past where she and that ugly incident belong.
At the end of the day while Jackson was ultimately cleared by the investigation, the weeks of uncertainty and speculation — all of it incredibly racially-charged — will always be associated with his name. He is never going to be able to completely free himself from the accusation that he had sexually abused Olympios. And let’s be frank, the fact that we are talking about a young, African-American man and a pretty, young, blonde white girl adds a an unfortunate layer of suspicion that will force some to assume Jackson must be somehow at fault, investigation be damned. And let’s not forget that Olympios wasn’t quick to clarify the situation. Whatever her reasoning — lawyers and handlers told her not to speak out, she couldn’t genuinely remember what had happened, etc. — each day of her silence was another nail hammered into Jackson as he was crucified in the press.
And honestly this isn’t to paint Jackson is an overwhelmingly positive light. For anyone who watched Rachel Lindsay’s season of “The Bachelorette,” it is pretty cleat that he is a pompous jerk and terrible liar. He annoys me very, very much and I think it will take one special, patient lady to deal with his nonsense. But when all is said and done, no one deserves the swift, impassioned blame that was hurled Jackson’s way. If he was guilty it would be one thing. Because he’s innocent (though maybe guilty of poor judgment), it’s a whole other.
Look, even I’m not convinced that these two will suddenly go off, have a relationship and live happily ever after. They might just be friends who like to get flirty with each other every now and again, but my struggle with Jackson’s ability to look at Corinne in such a positive way is exceptionally real. I don’t know if the thinks that if he puts on a good show with Corinne that the stain of earlier happenings will suddenly be cleaned up. But hear us loud and clear: it won’t. There will always be that unfortunate specter following you and it’s only serving as a constant reminder of what you were accused of when you’re pictured with Olympios at Disneyland, canoodling outside a club and so on.
Yes, the whole situation was ugly. You both probably want to forget it happened. But it did happen. And not only should you not put yourself in a situation when people are constantly reminded of what you were accused of, but you shouldn’t help to soften the questions around Olympios and her reaction to the accusations. Ultimately, she took a passive stance in the immediate aftermath, followed that up with a statement that undeniably pointed a finger in your direction and then went on an apology to try and smooth things over. Not exactly the remorse we would hope for.