Love Island: immoral or educational?

Love Island causes controversy and I’m not just talking about how the relationships unfold in the house. It can create a response a bit like Marmite: you love or hate it.

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So what do different people think about it?

Ophelia Stimpson, a 25-year-old Oxford grad, argues that the programme “operates on a number of levels and is actually quite a clever show because it does create a theatre, which panders to ‘intelligent’ viewers.” She explains: “It actually refers to the people in it as the ‘cast’ and ‘characters’, which is interesting. It’s hilarious because the way it’s edited makes it look like they can only comprehend the situation in front of them, with zero emotional depth.”

Other people really enjoy the pure comedy. There’s clever editing and there’s the simple relaying of conversations. “What’s the Lake District?”, Adam asked Sophie in 2016’s show. “It’s… a district with lots of lakes,” she started hesitantly. “You’ve got Belfast there… What’s the stretch of sea between England and Ireland?” she then asked the other contestants across the swimming pool. “The English Channel?” one of them suggested, which sent all lovers of Geography into a tailspin. This year we had Hayley’s confusion about Brexit.

Georgia: So what do you think about Brexit?

Hayley: What’s that?

Georgia: Where we’re leaving the European Union

Hayley: I seriously don’t have a clue…

Samira: So it was to leave the EU so we wouldn’t be part of Europe

Hayley: Oh the EU, yeah, yeah

Georgia: Which would mean like welfare, and like things we trade with would be cut down

Hayley: So does that mean we won’t have any trees?

Samira: Cheese?

Hayley: Trees

Gerogia: No that’s got nothing to do with it Babe, that’s weather

Dani: Why wouldn’t we have trees?

Hayley: What are yous talking about?

Away from the humour, some people like it for anthropological reasons. “It’s so brutal it’s anthropologically interesting,” says Rosie Litterick, who studied at the University of York. “From a feminist point of view, all the men are awful and treat the women terribly.” It is definitely interesting to view how young people interact in this false competitive situation. The only risk could be that some viewers forget that it is a false competitive situation and think they are watching real life they should emulate.

Finally we’ll turn to Caitlin Moran who said: “I can defend Love Island for as long as I need to. Firstly, because it is the one programme my entire family will watch together. Even the dog seems to enjoy it, and I suspect that’s because it has equal intelligence to most of the people on TV. I don’t have any problems with watching dim people in their pants struggling with small life events; I find that very relaxing given the current political climate in the world.”

“But the thing I find most useful about it is that my children are teenagers, and this is incredibly educational. They’re horrified by the things they see, but at the same time they know that they’re going to be experiencing them in the next couple of years. It’s so hard to talk about sex or relationships with your teenage kids, but when you’re sitting and watching something like Love Island, and you’ve got all these situations happening it just allows you to go into a little rant or ask them questions about how it’s coming across to them or how they would deal with that situation. It’s saved me about a year and a half of embarrassing parenting, all whilst being wrapped up in a light entertainment format.” In class we talk about how the contestants deal with heartbreak, communication problems, taking relationships to the next step and what sort of behaviour is respectful.

Is Love Island harming the moral fabric of Britain?

If you haven’t stumbled upon the ITV2 TV series Love Island then I will leave it to the Independent to explain:

It’s essentially Big Brother – with contestants being slowly voted out of a house (in this case, a Mallorcan villa) by the public and the last pair standing winning £50,000 – only the road to victory is paved with Machiavellian gossiping and condom wrappers. Ostensibly, the ITV2 show is about finding love, but going far in it seems to require successfully walking the tightrope of being honourable without being boring. I should also note it’s quite meta in the sense that the rules literally don’t matter and are changed at the producers’ whim.

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This year’s Love Island has proved hugely popular. The show has become must-see viewing amongst mainly female (67.4%) viewers and under 35s (63.6%). It’s already appeared on the wordpress this year for its discussion on feminism. Last week the a contestant from the show, Chris, was praised for openly showing his emotions and breaking the stereotype that men shouldn’t cry. Chris had been involved with fellow contestant Olivia Attwood whilst in the villa, and was left in tears when she decided to cool things off. In one scene Olivia told Chris not to cry again; which led many viewers to accuse her of being “cold-hearted” and “harsh”. In fact some people went so far as saying that if it had been the other way round she would have been seen as a victim of bullying.

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On this Wednesday’s show the couples all became immediate parents with the show’s producers providing each couple with baby dolls. After just a short while Chris said,  “I think this morning he has already brought out an emotional side in me. With Olivia, we have stopped the mishaps we’ve had together and we’ve got to focus on the baby now, because ultimately he is our main responsibility.” I tell you this programme can be an interesting way to learn about life skills!

Laura Hamzic who works for Brook, a sexual health charity for young people, would agree with me, saying that shows like Love Island can provide young people with an entry point for discussion by reconciling sex with relationships.

“I think we’re still quite quick to judge young people as being sexually irresponsible and promiscuous and that’s something we would challenge,” she says. “They are starved of places to discuss sex and relationships in controlled environments like school, because sex education is very poor. Love Island isn’t exactly the best place to learn about sex and relationships, but it’s better than porn.”

Love Island’s commissioning editor Amanda Stavri agrees, pointing out that the key to the show’s success is relationships rather than sex. “Our feeling is if you’re inviting 12 singletons to live together in the sun, things are gonna get heated under the covers,” she says. “But it’s not salacious, it’s not grubby, it’s not explicit. We’re more interested in the story of the couple who have chosen to take their relationship to the next level.”

If you’re not down with the kids and their lingo then BBC Three have even provided a useful dictionary according Love Island so you can better understand the conversations.

If all this has whetted your appetite for Love Island you can catch up on episodes via the ITV Hub.

ITV2’s Love Island discusses women’s equality

On Thursday’s Love Island broadcast on ITV2 show couple Jonny and Camilla ended up talking about feminism. Jonny claimed that he’s all for “equality” but that “real feminists” don’t want that, they want thing to “slope towards them”. Camilla countered with “I don’t think it’s that, it’s that there’s been several generations that have been preferential towards men, and therefore to redress the balance there has to be in some way an active movement towards equality.” By the end of the conversation Camilla was in tears…

What is a feminist? The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘a feminist’  as ‘An advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women’. The term ‘feminist’ however has always been contentious. This is partly because it implies militancy and an ‘anti-men’ stance.

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All of this talk of feminism leads me to a great new song by Ray BLK called Doing Me which  is an anthem for when you’re feeling yourself and not taking any one’s opinion on board. With great lyrics like “My dressing is expression so don’t judge me by my clothes,”  it will encourage you to be yourself and not worry about what others think. Ray Blk explains, “It’s about being yourself no matter what and not caring about judgement. People are going to judge you whether you do bad or good so you have to do you regardless!”

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