Love Island may be a show where good looking people stay out in the sun and couple up with the goal of winning £50,000, but with the romance comes drama and there is a lot to take away from a show with such a simple premise. With the franchise expanding across the world to other countries, Love Island’s raunchy party games, sun lounge drama and late-night escapades will give us a partial glimpse into the attitudes and lives of ‘beautiful’ people looking for fame and how what they do or say sorely reflects onto us as a society.
1. The Famous Double Standard
We all know double standards exist, it’s a given that certain ‘types’ of people are more easily forgiven than others for the poor choices they make. That couldn’t be more evident than with former islander, Sherif and Maura. Sherif was kicked out of the villa for reasons ITV refused to release until the speculation got out of hand. Accusations of a violent fight, antisocial behaviour and ‘self-loving’, which is against the rules, continued to paint Sherif in ill-favour until they had no choice but to reveal it was an accident and a poor choice of words, not broadcast, that saw him removed.
Viewers were quick to point out the double standard that did make it to air, Maura’s attempts to kiss Tommy Fury despite him turning his head away to avoid her advances. Twitter users made it clear it was unfair to remove Sherif for an accident he had no intention of causing and let Maura stay, despite sexually harassing another islander. But it goes to show that some sort of bias does exist within large organisations that are willing to overlook a white woman’s intended actions and villainise the unintended actions of a young black man.
2. Cancel Culture and Other Toxic Language On Social Media
We saw it first hand in the Twitter challenge that our comments really do affect the islanders who have been away from social media for weeks. With islanders mislead by two-week-old comments, relationships thought strong wavered. While it made for great TV viewing, some of the comments do pose questions as to how we treat public figures who are just as imperfect as we are.
Several islanders have already been cancelled and “un-cancelled” with the drop of a hat. Arabella’s name failed to make the trending pages of Twitter in favour of ‘Umbrella’ and ‘Azerbaijan’ and they’ve all be called more deplorable names than they deserve. With the deaths of two previous Love Island contestants, it’s only too clear that we as a society need to work on how we see and talk about people in the limelight.
3. Smart People Truly Have It Harder
2017 saw islanders confused by Camilla’s job in disposing of old and unexploded bombs in countries such as Zimbabwe, Cambodia and Afghanistan. We were confused too. Why would someone with such an interesting profession choose to join Love Island if they weren’t looking for fame? Her shy personality, brains and beauty certainly kept her popular with the guys but sadly a lot of them couldn’t keep up with her until she met Jamie.
The following season saw fans eager to see Dr Alex, 2018’s Camilla, meet someone in a whirlwind romance of witty banter and posh flirting, but in the end, he left the villa single after not finding his intellectual match. This season, it was 23-year-old scientist and stunner, Yewande who had a hard time finding love. She thought she found it with model Danny, but her safeguarding her heart and his head-turning for ‘supermodel’ Arabella, saw her eliminated from the island after a recoupling. In his recoupling speech, Danny said he chose Arabella because they were on the same ‘intellectual level’.
4. Colourism is Still a Problem, Despite This Year’s More Diverse Cast.
It doesn’t matter how much you diversify a show, people are going to pick who they like and in the first episode of the series, it was more than Sherif’s yellow shirt that made him the girls’ last pick. Last year, it took Samira’s tears in the confession room to highlight the problem of colourism and underlying racism when it comes to being a young person of colour in the UK. Why was she so upset? Shouldn’t she have just taken the rejection on the chin?
Repeated rejection is what a lot of people of colour have to go through, black women and Asian men more than others. That being said, the rise in popularity of Asian dramas, anime and K-pop, means Asian men are bypassing a lot of old preconceived stereotypes and are now deemed more desirable by those outside of their race.
With the black and mixed-race men being popular due to positive racism and other ‘myths’, they are more likely to date women and men outside of their race. There is also the overwhelming popularity of mixed-race people being desirable to white people as they are sampling a more palatable form of blackness, that fits within the largely Eurocentric standards of beauty the UK as a society conforms to. Adding more diversity is not going to magically solve the problem of anti-blackness.
5. Love Island is Ultimately Our Society Summed Up
As much as we don’t want to admit it, shows like Love Island and Big Brother are a representation of the average Heterosexual Cis-gendered Brit and their attitudes towards love and life. Previous seasons may not have been as accurate and hard-hitting as last year, but with islanders from a wider range of backgrounds and ethnicity, the joys and pitfalls of this year of Love Island are accurate enough for us to see that we’re still not there yet, at all.