Is Watching Love Island Ethically Wrong?
DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS TRIGGERING CONTENT SURROUNDING MENTAL HEALTH AND DOMESTIC ABUSE. IF YOU HAVE BEEN AFFECTED BY ANY OF THESE ISSUES, PLEASE STAY STRONG AND RECEIVE HELP FROM THE FOLLOWING HELP LINES
0808 2000 247- Refuge
116 123 – Samaritans
Rape and Sexual Assault
0808 802 9999– Rape Crisis
0845 22 55 787 – National Bullying Helpline
Love Island is currently one of the strongest focuses of society now. This has spilled onto daily talk shows and social media. However, the opposition of the show is just as strong as its fan base, being regarded by some as morally wrong or just down right trashy. However, this essay will argue that there is some basis to watching Love Island and that it can be useful to ethical philosophers as a study for the issues within society, while acknowledging some (but not all) the major issues which Love Island poses.
The superficial values are deep routed in Love Island. In fact, superficial values are the basis to the idea of the entire programme. Love Island works by rewarding those who are in relationships and punishing those who are not; it is only those who are in the strongest couples which succeed in getting the £50, 000 while those who are not are dumped from the island. Also, people are not accepted if they do not fulfil the stereotypes laid out by society. For instance, only attractive people are selected to partake in the show, encouraging the idea that only those who are physically attractive are worthy of love, while those who are ugly are doomed to die forever. This is an incredibly unhealthy stereotype to promote as it is fundamentally wrong and contributes to the image crisis and feeling of inadequacy sweeping the nation. On top of this, it only engages with heterosexuality. This means it ignores and hence isolates the LGBTQ+ community, and therefore fails to completely accurately interpret modern relationships.
However, this is not an issue with just Love Island. Most television shows have a similar policy and are expected to uphold such standards. For instance, news anchors are held to high standards on what they wear and how they present themselves. There are no TV shows were females don’t wear makeup or don’t dress to accommodate the social norms. Therefore, this is not a specific issue with Love Island, but a far more deeply routed issue with society, which should not be ignored and must be changed.
Sex and Relationships
Sometimes, the relationships which Love Island promotes can be abusive. A key example of this is Scott and Kady from Season 2, who had a toxic relationship on screen which led to their breakup after the show amongst domestic abuse claims. This is an issue because the show makes it seem such relationships are acceptable as the producers didn’t condemn this behaviour. This is made more volatile by the fuelling of alcohol. Though programme creators claim alcohol is kept to a minimum within the villa, it is worrying such volatile relationships and extensive sexual relations are taking place in an environment were rational consent may not always be consistent, to the extent that domestic and sexual abuse may seem inevitable.
However, to say this is merely an issue concerning Love Island is foolish. There is a current culture of excessive alcohol intake and sex, which leads the young into vulnerable situations such as being raped or not having protected sex. That is not to say that modern sexual liberty is wrong (that is a different debate) but it is when either one or both parties are unable to give the rational consent they would when they were sober. There has also been a rise in domestic abuse cases among teenagers, were partners have turned abusive and there is a lack of support aimed purposefully for this age group as it is a new issue. As a result, Love Island is highlighting an issue within society which abruptly needs to be dealt with. Therefore, instead of shaming Love Island, we should be actively studying it in order to effectively deal with the problems it highlights.
However, Love Island’s inclusion of sex and focus on relationship can be a good thing. Some people may be horrified by the idea of people having actual sex on TV; they may even see it as pornographic. However, sex is an important part of life and relationships which can’t and should not be ignored. The show is important in this aspect as it demonstrates the realities of sex, which is important in educating the young if we use it in the correct manor, which is using it as a resource for open discussion. If we shun Love Island for it showing real sex, it increases the stigma around sex which itself can lead to shame and guilt. Instead of ignoring the fact teenagers are watching Love Island, or condemning it as a whole, parents should be watching it with them and creating an open discussion around sex which is safe and consensual.
The Twitter Cult
The buzz around the programme and has spilled out onto social media. In particular, this has affected Twitter, due to the ease of sharing opinions via hashtags. However, this had led to extensive issues as people feel entitled to post inappropriate comments on twitter, which overstep the mark of commenting on a TV programme and create a personal and unjustified attacks on individuals. The best example of this is the shaming of Meghan from the current season. Recently, there have been thousands of posts on social media of Meghan before her plastic surgery which have shamed her for how ugly she was. No doubt this will have drastic impact on her self-esteem and has crossed a line, attacking her personally instead of for her role in the TV show. The impact of this cannot be undermined, particularly after the suicide of Sophie Grandon, a contestant on season two, who faced continual harassment. We cannot put sole blame on the Twitter Cult; Grandon had suffered mental health issues for many years before the show. However, the role Twitter played in her decision to take her life cannot be underestimated, and we have to ask ourselves whether this is a reasonable price to pay for a TV show. In my opinion, it is not.
However, I do not feel this is an issue with Love Island. It is an issue with social media in general. Other celebrities have unjustly suffered from abuse online, as well as non-celebrities. In particular, teens who are the main users of social media, which is feeding in to the mental health crisis which is occurring. This is due to the insufficient regulations to protect those vulnerable on social media and the anonymity felt when posting, allowing people to post things they would not say in public. Therefore, I do not feel that we can really blame Love Island for the Twitter Cult that surrounds it, as it is not the cause of the problem; social media is. However, this does not mean that the issue of social media is not a significant one, and we cannot underestimate the drastic danger that the abuse of social media can cause. Despite this, it is a separate issue to that of Love Island, and should be treated as such.
On top of this, the excitement of social media around Love Island does have some benefits; it is an important part of the reaction and developing attitudes towards the program. It is not what the actions are, but how we respond to them as a society. This response is what makes it into an important teaching tool about life. Twitter provides this connection to talk about the ethics of Love Island and provides the education required.
Objectification and Feminism
The women wear bikinis constantly and the men are mostly topless, leading to objectifying them because of their looks People view them as inherently wrong because it makes the contestants seem less human and can be used however someone else decides. Therefore, some argue based on feminism and freeing women that Love Island should be banned.
However, this position must be rejected because the women have consented. For true feminism, we should allow women to autonomously decide the right thing to do and we should respect their decisions due to them being their own human beings. If they want to go on love Island and be objectified, let them! They are not stupid or naïve, and we should certainly not stop them making the decision for themselves. They may find wearing a bikini empowering to themselves, not to attract men. If we did stop women going on Love Island, then we would be as guilty as those who dictate women can’t work as doctors. Women have a right to chose what they do – that is true feminism.
There are many issues which Love Island is attached to. However, watching Love Island is not the problem. It is a product of the issues within society, such as the abuse of social media and the values we cultivate. If we fix the issues within society, then the issues with Love Island will disappear; it will either adapt to the new values or cease to exist all together. Therefore, instead of shaming people for watching it, we should be encouraging discussion around it which, in turn, will cause change within society. In fact, it is an important teaching tool which should be embraced by intellectuals who can engage with the public to challenge societal norms and try to remove the issues which Love Island highlights.