Tuesday 18 December 2018

Television review: Love Island does a soft Brexit

  • Love Island, 3e
Love Island's Hayley Hughes
Love Island's Hayley Hughes
Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

Here are extracts from a conversation which took place between the girls on Love Island, about Brexit:

"What you think about Brexit?"

"What's tha?"

"Where we're leaving the European Union…"

"I seriously don't have a…"

"It was to leave the EU, so we wouldn't be part of Europe."

"Which would mean like, welfare, and things we trade with, would be cut down."

"So does that mean we won't have any trees?"

"Cheese?"

"Trees."

"Doesn't it mean it would be harder to like, go to, like, Spain and stuff?"

"So, it'd be harder to go on holidays?"

"Yeah I think so."

"Oh I love my holidays…"

The last line, "Oh I love my holidays", is said with a note of alarm, as the speaker is struck by this sudden realisation that something terrible has been going on, that nobody told her about until it was too late.

It has always been one of the wonders of this world which began with Big Brother, that the inhabitants or "housemates" seem utterly disconnected from anything that is happening in the outside world. They rarely talk "about" anything, so that if, say, The Bomb has recently gone off and killed about 30 million people, you would hardly hear a passing mention of it.

It's not just that they are isolated in there from the great events of the day, you get the impression that even if they weren't in there, they are so self-absorbed they would miss The Bomb anyway.

Therefore, while there was much raucous laughter at the Love Island analysis of Brexit, perhaps there should have been some acknowledgment that to have a Brexit analysis at all - albeit one lasting about 30 seconds - was quite remarkable in itself.

But it was a slow day on the Island, which in most other respects is making the original Big Brother look like a thing of sprawling complexity - indeed those of us who can remember those early pioneering days of reality TV in the BB house are seeing it as a golden age of character development and thematic complexity. Next to Love Island it was a voyage into the other reaches of the avant garde, a drama as rich as anything put out there by Eugene O'Neill.

Back then a few days, even a few weeks could go by before housemates started getting off with one another, for some it wasn't even the entire purpose of the exercise, whereas Love Island cuts out all that art-school extravagance and just lets them at it.

But then the outside world has changed too in recent years, so that a poolside debate about Brexit by the girls on Love Island is not all that different in its command of the issues to what is coming out of the White House at any time of day or night.

Certainly I found that I was watching Trump in Singapore in roughly the same frame of mind that I was bringing to Brexit on Love Island.

It's always kind of funny to see people blathering about things that they don't understand - or that they might understand if only they could be bothered finding out about them, which of course they can't.

Indeed there is virtually no difference at all between Trump in Singapore and Brexit on Love island, in terms of the character of the contestants - in both situations we are looking at reality TV personalities, interested mainly in themselves and their chances of winning and in figuring out who they are going to screw next.

Except on Love Island, at the end of the day there is no gathering of the world's media asking respectful questions. The press knows what it's looking at there, on Love Island, or at least it knows what it is looking down on, rightly or wrongly.

In Singapore and at other Trump events, at which they continue to regard him as they would regard other democratic leaders, they don't know what they're looking at there, at all.

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