I love, ‘Love Island.’
Last year, along with the rest of the nation, I watched every spat, sob, and snog with unbridled glee. And I wasn’t even watching it ironically: I genuinely enjoy watching people fall in love. Love’s brilliant, however contrived the conditions under which it develops. Whether those initial seeds of passionate devotion are sown under the dim lights of a candlelit restaurant, across the blue lights of two smartphones, or under the bright lights of prime time television cameras, its all the same to me; as long as people are falling in love, I’m happy. Watching the stars of last year’s ‘Love Island’ argue, bitch and cry their way to romantic bliss was a genuine, heartfelt, heart-wrenching, heart-warming pleasure.
But this year, although I love the show, I’m not watching it. And I’m disappointed with those that that do.
This year, I’m taking a moral stance in not watching it. Here’s why:
‘Love Island’ perpetuates negative ideas about how the human body should look. I’m a 32 year old male and struggle greatly with the fact that I do not possess the marble six pack exhibited by almost all of the male stars of the show. When I imagine what this show must be doing to young peoples’ perceptions of their own bodies I shudder. People who watch this show are adding to the viewing figures of a show that makes some young people feel crap about their bodies.
My second grievance is that the show isn’t diverse enough. I see lots of brown skin, but it is the brown skin belonging to tanned Caucasian bodies. This simply isn’t good enough and it’s not reflective of multi-cultural Britain. People who watch this show are adding to the viewing figures of a show that makes some young people feel that to be desirable, you have to be white.
Casual sex under the influence of alcohol, rife misogyny, and casual use of ‘sex shaming’ (when a person-always a woman- is made to feel shame for the number of sexual partners she’s had) are all major parts of ‘Love Island’. People who watch this show are adding to the viewing figures of a show that make some young people feel that it’s okay to make a woman feel crap about herself simply because she’s slept with what might be considered ‘lots’ of men.
People (usually people who watch the show with the same unbridled glee as I watched last year’s series) will tell me that simply not watching it won’t make a difference. That kids are watching it and therefore as a teacher it’s my moral obligation to watch it so I can support the kids. Well, the only reason kids are watching it, is because it’s there to be watched. The fact is, I can’t reliably call myself a feminist or a person committed to equality and give this show viewing figures. The simple fact is that if nobody watches this show, the show gets cut. I want this show cut.
Many teachers, aggrieved by my so-called ‘virtue signalling’ have explained that the show provides many opportunities to discuss the issues I’ve mentioned above, with students. Opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t have arisen. For me, that’s like bringing someone off the street into assembly, beating them to a bloody pulp with a baseball bat, and saying, ‘Right kids. Let’s discuss violence.’ We do not need to subject kids to racism, sexism, and psychological bullying in order to discuss with them, racism, sexism, and psychological bullying.
I’m also aware that I’m full of contradictions. But this is my feminism. I accept that it may be different to yours.
Perhaps I am virtue-signalling. Perhaps I’m simply jealous that this year, I no longer get to gawp over a load of good-looking people arguing and kissing. Or, perhaps, I’m just a little bit right.
*The original title of this blog post had ‘teachers’ rather than ‘people’. I quickly realised that this was little more than clickbait wankery and so have changed it. Teachers are people. This isn’t a teacher problem; it’s a people problem.