Hello and welcome to yet another article on Love Island, this time a look at how it is shaping the career landscape… yes really.
Twenty years ago ‘reality star’ was not a career title the world was familiar with, today you’re hard pushed finding any actual news in a paper since every story seems to feature a half naked woman with very good teeth and a rumoured sex tape.
Between Geordie Shore, Ex On The Beach, The Only Way Is Essex, Made In Chelsea and of course, Love Island, the media is rife with people who have opted to make being them a full time job.
Alongside appearing on the television every week or so to drink, shag or stare awkwardly at one another (holla MIC), the realms of the job expand to a social media presence that probably pays more than the TV producers do.
Showing off watches, teeth whitening products and food supplements, as well as appearing at club openings, taking over brand’s Instagram accounts and ‘designing’ clothes with brands such as InStyle, no one can say these people aren’t busy.
Sure it’s not the hard work our grandparents did, it’s not ‘difficult’ in the way we know factory working or doctoring or lawyering to be, but there is no disputing that reality stars turned influences are busy people.
The lines blur somewhat as you bring the term ‘influencer’ into it as that, in it’s own right, is a full time job. As much as most of us loath to hear it used, bloggers are often put under this umbrella and I’ll attack you with a sharp pencil if you dane to come at me with this ‘blogging is easy’ bollocks.
Sure having to ensure that every photo that appears on Instagram is just right is hardly the fulfilling career most parents dreamed of for their little babies, but there’s graft to be put in there and it can’t be disputed that this is a viable career option now.
But influencing via a blog is different to influencing via reality TV.
Influencing via a blog, I speak from experience when I tell you, is fucking hard work: between actually being able to, y’know, WRITE, you need to be your own social media manager, you need to be a photographer, head of marketing and of PR, you’re the intern and the boss and very rarely not busy.
Influencing via reality TV (she says with no experience) is a different game altogether; the contestants now leaving the Love Island villa are doing so with over half a million more Instagram followers than they went in there with, a management team on standby and an inbox bursting with sponsorship deals.
Assuming they accept the help from whatever agency it is greedily licking their lips at the thought of them, they’re about to walk into a very profitable job.
Sure, they sell their souls, but at least they’re getting a good price for it.
Knowing what I know about ‘influencing’ I won’t for a minute suggest that it is easy and, as the conversation of mental health and aftercare following Love Island is thrown into the forefront, I don’t want to even insinuate that this career is remotely joyous.
Whilst it might be the dream to so many, I suspect the reality is somewhat different.
What is it that they say about the grass on the other side??
Nevertheless, people are lining up to do it. Did you hear (from EVERYONE) that more people applied to be on Love Island this year than Oxford or Cambridge? I’m sorry but there aren’t that many 20 year olds in the world desperately looking for love. There might be that many looking for a million Instagram followers though…
It is now a widely acknowledged idea though that most the people entering the Love Island villa, and partaking in other reality shows, are doing it for the influencer status; Instagram followers, in this day and age, translate directly into money, if you are that way inclined.
Adam for example, a man that has raised serious concerns regarding emotional abuse with his behaviour in the Love Island villa is clearly ready for the inevitable Boohoo contract that awaits him on his arrival back at Luton airport, that man is looking for love in there about as hard as I look for cactuses to sit on.
He went in there because he knew that he was going to launch a career; how long will it last? No-one knows. If Instagram disappears tomorrow, what will these people have? If their looks fade? The silicon drifts? The veneers all out? Who knows. But for now, it’s a great way of making a fast buck and stroking an already magnified ego.
But what of those who already had careers to start with?
Remembering Camilla of last year we were shocked and in awe of her for the work she did before entering the villa, working for humanitarian organisations to safely remove landmines from war-torn countries, a far cry from the part-time models and shop assistants that we were used to seeing.
And whilst that is not to disregard those jobs, I am not for a minute implying that modelling or working in retail are easy or things to be ashamed of at all, but the way that we treat people based on their professions whilst they are in there is worth talking about.
It is a fair assumption that any model heading in there is doing it to boost their following and thus, their job opportunities. As for those working in retail or as assistants? I suppose the fact that they are able to take an eight week holiday probably means they are willing to give the day job in and try their hand at influencing instead.
So what of those people in the villa this year with big careers, Rosie, evicted last week, a solicitor and Alex, the nation’s sweetheart, this year’s Camilla, the A&E doctor.
It was only this morning Rosie found herself being grilled by both Piers Morgan and Lorraine for choosing to go and do this show, ‘giving up’ her career as a solicitor, something that she worked towards for eight years.
“You were a lawyer.” Piers said, “what do your family make of you giving up this successful law career to go and make yourself look stupid on TV?’
She got a grilling that I suspect Alex will not get.
Rosie explained to Lorraine, who had asked similar questions, why she went on the show “when you work 18 hours a day for a law firm, it’s not really glamorous” to which host Lorraine Kelly replied: ‘I don’t think law is meant to be glamorous…‘ – as if Lorraine, the TV presenter, has the first clue what it means to be a solicitor in the first place.
The assumption that Rosie is a bimbo for choosing to do this show annoyed me, not least of all because I suspect when Alex leaves the villa and tells Piers, Susanna, Lorraine, Holly, Phill and whoever else asks that it was great to have the chance to look for love in the villa because being a doctor isn’t very glamorous and he works too hard to find the time, they will sympathetically agree with him, concluding that he deserved this chance.
We talk a lot about the issue that Love Island raises, the lack of body diversity, the double standards, the misogyny, but something we have never really addressed before is the career snobbery, particularly this year when we bring gender into the equation.
As Rosie took part in that somewhat cringe photo shoot with Megan I couldn’t stop myself from thinking: oops I don’t know how seriously I could take her if I showed up at a legal firm needing advice and she was my solicitor!
Not once, as I watch Alex be so hopelessly irresponsible with his suncream application and his awkward snogs have I thought: I hope I don’t show up at A&E and need him to save my life! On the contrary I think it might be rather fun to have him patch me up.
The sad reality is, Alex has probably set himself up for a great gig as a telly doc following on from this, if he wants the job. Rosie? I don’t think she’s going to go back to her office job anytime soon, I worry too that TV companies are not preparing to cast her as their resident TV solicitor… in truth I think that by doing Love Island she might have stopped anyone from taking her seriously as a professional… ever.
I’m dreading the day I see her advertising a new tooth paste and just hope I’m proved wrong.
It’s an interesting time to be working, in that the definition has become so loose; for people like Charlotte Crosby, going out clubbing is her job, looking good on Instagram pays for her house. It’s not our place to question it anymore, it’s certainly not our place to judge it.
People go into that villa for a magnitude of reasons, most of them, I suspect, are Instagram related, but I don’t think that means we can think any less of them as professionals anymore.
To assume that reality stars are good for nothing, that they are too stupid to do anything else, I think is really outdated.
Sure, it’s not your dream job and no, you don’t think it looks like too much hard work, and you might be right about that, we don’t know, but I think it ought to be acknowledged that whatever happens when these contestants leave the villa, they’ll have some hard work ahead of them, and ours is not to question it.