Originally featured here on tmrw magazine.
i have found it impossible to avoid love island.
everywhere i turned, there it was – staring back at me like the ex you never want to see, but always find yourself running into. so what did i do? i succumbed to societal norms and flicked my tv to itv2 at 9pm a couple of sundays ago to watch my first ever episode of the show. i was a complete novice – bar seeing a few tweets, the odd meme and knowing something about jonny breaking camilla’s heart. oh, and the fact that marcel from blazin squad was in this series. if there is life on another planet, the extraterrestrials living on it will almost certainly know it too. what’s good, marcel.
but this isn’t your typical love island convert piece. i mean, yes i am convert, yes i’ve missed two episodes in a row and it’s giving me slight anxiety and yes i would probably cancel real life plans for a night in with my tv and glass of red. but i think the reason i’ve converted comes down to way more than wishing i could be the third person in alex and montana’s relationship.
think about it. the way ‘millennials’ (i’m never not going to put that in inverted commas) can’t stop watching what kem will do next, is almost the way we almost fought against conservative power this recent election. the way corbyn has become the nation’s sweetheart, the way grime4corbyn became an encouraging and influential factor in engaging and resonating with the younger voting generation who felt alienated by the establishmet, the way many media outlets presented all these things to their readers and viewers all had an influence on people’s decisions. and for me personally, it had a huge impact. they’re all linked.
i’ll admit, before there were corbyn memes, a catchy footy chant to sing when i’m drunk, or the video of him eating a pringle through a fence came about, i wasn’t so convinced on the guy. i just couldn’t figure out if he was a tad cheesy and i know some will say that’s blasphemous, but hey, i’m just being honest. however, when your peers and the media outlets you go to as a reliable source of news so fully endorse a candidate, or even a fad, it becomes almost unavoidable not to become a cheerleader for that person, or thing. whether it’s corbyn or love island, i’m now a unashamed cheerleader of both.
in a recent interview, corbyn was asked if he had watched love island, to which he replied: “i haven’t been watching it, but i’d advise that marcel needs a vote… he needs a bit of help. he needs a bit of, shall i say, *dramatic pause* tlc.”
maybe when marcel comes out of love island and forms ‘blazin solo’, he’ll invite corbyn to sample on a track. preferably saying something sassy where he uses theresa may’s own words against her. one can dream anyway.
but my question is, is there a correlation between corbyn being an absolute boy and the rise in popularity of love island? though maybe not at a first glance, the link is deeply rooted. corbynmania has influenced a hysteria on social media that seems to have continued. and not just in politics.
social media is the new public sphere where us ‘millennials’ are banished, and also where the odd 40-something slips through the net sandra will post a “if god wanted me to touch my toes, he’d have put them on my knees” meme on her friend tracey’s wall before liking her own post to reiterate how hilarious she thinks she is. then tracey will reply with, “hello sandra. forget touching my toes, i just need to touch a glass of wine. or that builder we had in to do the bathroom. lol. don’t tell dave !!!” but we overlook these 40-somethings, and their naivety in not realising social media is solely for self-deprecation or self-promotion. and nothing else.
even the guys on love island have phones so they can get texts and take the pre-night-out-even-though-they-don’t-leave-the-villa-selfie. it’s unavoidable. whether they’re on the show to find love, or to become instagram famous so they can sell bulking powder for the next two years, they will still see a rise in their social media presence. and a necessity it in.
what i’m trying to say is, would i be watching love island if it wasn’t for memes? would i have voted corbyn if i didn’t get caught up in how much a boy he was? (well, i would have, but it probably helped me want to vote for him more). there is an invisible connection in the way we use social media, the conversations that go on on the varying platforms, that sucks you in. you can’t help but feel intrigue or a slight adoration for the people or things that are constantly talked about in your sphere in a positive light. and if the conversations happening bring together likeminded people who are interested in politics, and also in watching and waiting for camilla to stop being such a prude and realise she needs to get on jamie, then i think it’s a beautiful thing.
ps, kem for pm.