Reality TV, like all forms of modern dating, remains a compelling mix of humiliation and blind egotism.
However, selling the dream by way of Caroline Flack and £11 swimsuits has become a practice so profitable that, each year, Love Island producers get inundated with some 100,000 applications for the Majorca-based flesh-fest.
This, mind, is in spite of the fact that psychological problems and suicidal thoughts are rife with past contestants, not to mention short-lived careers as presenters, fast-fashion ambassadors and nightclub promoters. A fair swap, indeed.
What viewers seem to forget about those who partake in the eight-week-long challenge is that despite the show masquerading itself as reality television, the characters portrayed are strictly that – characters. Heavily edited and caricatured versions of themselves thrust into the heady spotlight of wholly unnatural surroundings.
Think of one of the more common structured surroundings of which we are familiar – job interviews/driving tests/first dates. Are you totally yourself during these moments? Or are you acting a part to attempt to come across as best you can in a horribly constructed scenario?
Now, multiply that by four million – the show's average ratings on any given night.
What's more concerning is that even beyond the structure of the show, Love Island goes to great lengths to destabilise contestants on a daily basis. Every clock in the villa is wrong, meaning Islanders have no clue what time it is. Swimwear is mandatory – no covering up allowed. And contestants are chastised over a PA system if they speak too much about things that are unrelated to the show.
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This system's calculated aftermath can be seen via the collective flipflop the public do each night when their previously favourite character now becomes the villa's resident villain. Case in point, one Amy Hart.
Here’s the correct and only opinion. Anna is a hypocrite and is a nosey fucking attention seeker. Molly and Tommy are the new best couple. Michael is fantastic. Amber is a joke. Amy is the equivalent of a bounty in a celebrations box. Happy for Moura, Danny & Lucie.. #LoveIsland— Taylor (@Taylor49231377) July 2, 2019
Given the matronly title of 'villa mum' from the get-go, Amy innocent nature and old-school values deemed her the less exciting of the pack – something that had essentially written her off when she coupled with the all-singing, all-dancing Curtis Pritchard.
The relationship subsequently broke down, causing Amy to spiral into psychological distress in a way that didn't favour entertainment-wise with viewers. This, left her susceptible to vast quantities of hate.
Within minutes of the pair's relationship post-mortem chat, hateful tweets criticising the 26-year-old's looks, behaviour and manner flooded social media.
Fast forward less than a week, and the former air hostess takes control back into her own hands by deciding to leave the Love Island villa on her terms and communicating this openly with every one of her newly-minted peers. Cue tsunami waves of support and a 200,000+ friend requests.
While we may subconsciously be aware of this on some level, it's worth noting that these people become nothing more than public play-things during their 15 minutes of fame.
Their dalliances create nothing more than tabloid fodder for their prolonged period behind media bars while their contrived experiences are wholly shaped by public view and ratings.
What's growing clearer is that the only lasting relationships most Islanders will boast are the Faustian pacts they made with this type of personalised celebrity, acutely understanding that they are required to feed the beast in order to keep the merry-go-round moving.
Reality stars often take advantage of their huge following on Instagram post-show, by doing paid posts (dependant on us), promotions (directed at us) and collaborations with brands (constructed solely to make money from us).
When our collective interest backs down, so does their self-importance – something to consider when posting directed hate.
Main image by @amyhartxo
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