Tuesday 20 August 2019

Ian O'Doherty: 'Trashy TV is a guilty pleasure not an issue for the watchdog'

Controversy: Longford’s Maura Higgins has sparked 500 complaints to Britain’s Ofcom
Controversy: Longford’s Maura Higgins has sparked 500 complaints to Britain’s Ofcom
Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

Oh, the humanity! The horror! The untrammelled sexism! The appalling, erm, 'unconscious' racism! And did you see the sizeism on display?

Unless you have been living under a rock with your head in a bucket then you're no doubt aware of the impending doom that's set to befall society.

You'll be aware that the younglings have absolutely no morals. You'll have learned that racism is apparently endemic in society; a society so evil and mean that fat people aren't even invited on reality shows to have sex with each other.

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Yes, it's Love Island time, the ITV/Virgin Media broadcasting behemoth that, for some unearthly reason, has become the most-talked-about TV show of the summer.

For those of you who have remained in blissful ignorance, the premise is simple. It's so obvious that only an evil genius could have conjured the concept - get a bunch of fit-looking 20-somethings together in the sun and encourage them to flirt and shag and break each other's hearts.

It's like a Valentine's Day party for the inmates in Bedlam. And we're all invited to watch.

But wait - there's more! Because not only are we all invited to watch, but we're also invited to complain and make a fuss, and this year's show has already received - at the time of writing - nearly 2,000 complaints to British broadcasting watchdog Ofcom. Interestingly, a large proportion of those complaints involve Irish girl Maura Higgins, who has amassed more than 500 objections to her apparently "predatory" behaviour.

Her sin? She tried to convince a bloke to snog her, and this immediately prompted the usual "well, what if a man had behaved like that?"

Since arriving on the show, Higgins has been determined to make some waves and has certainly succeeded in capturing the attention of the British tabloids.

Even her dear old Longford mammy was forced to come out and refute claims that Maura has had €10,000 worth of plastic surgery. She has, says Mrs Higgins, only had some lip fillers. Whatever they are.

But while those complaints were simply silly and another sign of how some people are never happy unless they're moaning about something, the other set of objections regarding 'gas-lighting' and controlling behaviour were a fascinating barometer of just how incredibly infantile society has become.

One of the blokes, who all seem to be an interchangeable bunch of bland, gormless types, was apparently displaying controlling behaviour when he told one of his dates to stop flirting with the other interchangeable, gormless type because it made him insecure.

This prompted 800 complaints, and calls for him to be reported to the cops. I didn't realise being bland and gormless was a crime - but you learn a lot from watching this show - and warranted the intervention of women's charities.

Women's Aid released a statement reminding us that: "Controlling behaviour is never acceptable, and with Love Island viewers complaining to Ofcom in record numbers about Joe's possessive behaviour towards Lucie, more people are becoming aware of this and want to challenge it. Love Island viewers are now very vocal in calling out unhealthy behaviour between couples, and this is a positive development."

Ah, but is it? Is it really?

Do we really want to learn our life lessons from a show that's dedicated to getting people to sleep with each other?

Similarly, the sense of emotional investment from many of the viewers is something which will keep pop-culture historians busy for decades to come.

Why is it that the generation now most likely to complain about things, and who seem to take everything personally, is obsessed with a show that is almost genetically designed to trigger them?

Is it because... whisper it... they just like being offended? Is it because they want to enjoy the trashiest of trash TV, but also want to get on their high moral horse about it?

The other Irish contestant, Yewande, became embroiled in a minor race row when people were convinced she wasn't being picked because she was black. The more plausible reason is that she simply seems smarter and, well, more normal than the others - and smart doesn't play well on Love Island.

There is an obvious reason why people go on the show - they get their 15 minutes of fame, a few pages in Heat magazine and a couple of quid, if they're lucky.

There's also an obvious reason why even some normal people watch it - it's a guilty pleasure.

But as for the people who watch it and then make furious complaints about people they don't know doing things that are none of their business?

Well, God knows why they bother.

I'm just concerned about the fact that they're also entitled to vote.

Having said that, if Yewande doesn't win, I'm going to wreck the gaff...

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