Just how innocent is the television show that is taking the U.K. by storm?
We all love a TV show that allows you to switch off and bask in other people’s mishaps – especially when it involves matters of the heart. Most people have been in love and often it doesn’t end well, and by watching the ups and downs of others from the comfort of your own living room, you can see just how sofa-television is changing how young people live and work.
What is Love Island?
‘Love Island‘ is a show where a group of ‘manly’ men and a group of ‘girly’ girls go into an island resort for longer than ITV should allow. In the show, they attempt to pair up with a compatible mate of the opposite sex aiming to win £50,000. The public vote who they think are the best couple.
The show has been a hit for the past few years with women and men alike, tuning in every night at 9PM to see challenges and love affairs that should be enough to put you off love for life. The show even has a cult following by those as young as 13!
It is interesting just how much this show tells us about our society.
What’s wrong with it?
The show is a hit, there’s no doubt about that. I hate to say it, but I’m a fan of it myself and have a WhatsApp group dedicated to the evening’s Love Island gossip. The problems start to arise when we think about what kind of impression that this is giving to the youth that we work hard to educate every day. Is it damaging youth culture?
Firstly, the contestants are selected for beautiful. [Insert your definition here]. I don’t think that it’s unfair to say that these people were not chosen for their wit or intelligence.There are beautiful people everywhere! However, when there is a villa full of some of the most physically refined humans in the U.K., on television every night, people are bound to begin feeling insecure.
What impact will this have on the students we teach?
Adults tend to have a bit more understanding that most of these people. We know they do not naturally look the way they do and that they may have had a little helping hand from Doctor Botox. When it comes to the young people who are watching the show, who are desperate to fit in with their peers, we can find ourselves as parents, teachers and extended family members, reassuring them that they don’t need anything extra to make them look beautiful.
Secondly, the ideas surrounding gender on the show means people are placed exclusively into one of two groups. On the island, you are in the gender category, male or female. Not anywhere surrounding that pool will you find someone who could even slightly blur the lines.
Now, the students that we teach are growing up being taught that it is okay to be a bit different, to not fit into one of those boxes. Unfortunately, Love Island gives them our students the opposite impression – and there is a serious obligation required from television producers to think beyond ‘number of viewers’.
Our students are viewing quick fixes to stardom and bling. A life on the surface – that if you want to be on television – which requires little hard work and no qualifications. One simply needs make sure that you are at the top of your ‘gender game’ by ensuring that you are the Alpha (insert 1 of 2 gender-standard pronouns here).
Thirdly, we know that love does not come from joining together in the hope of winning £50,000. If only it was that easy, eh?
Love Island, while great entertainment, doesn’t show love. It shows a shallow imitation of love that amuses us as adults. The idea that you can literally ditch someone who you’ve been building up an albeit superficial relationship with, to hop into someone else’s bed as soon as they walk into the villa (Adam), is damaging our young people’s mental health.
For our students, ‘television-love’ puts the idea in their mind that it’s ‘okay to treat people as if life were like Love Island’. The show fails to (perhaps indirectly) teach viewers and participants about respect and love in the way that we’d like to see it. Instead, it teaches us all that it doesn’t matter what hurt you might do to people, as long as you get what you want.
“Throw me the remote!”
The problems arise when the young people that we educate feel as though they need to become like the contestants in order to succeed in life and love. Instagram, money, clothes and looks dominate the world of many of our students – Love Island consolidates the belief that hurting others through lack of substance or thought matters more than anything else.
For a light-hearted look at Love Island, see Mr P’s ICT ‘What would Love Island look like in a Primary School Staffroom?‘