Okay, you didn’t watch ‘Love Island’. Just don’t bang on about it
There’s a certain class of person who smugly revels in their ignorance of pop culture. Not me anymore. I'm familiar with Dani Dwyer and Ned Sheeran
Congratulations on not having watched Love Island. “Am I the only person who hasn’t watched a second of Love Island?” you ask. No, you’re not. There are millions, and a fair portion of those millions rejoice in bragging about their brilliant ignorance. Maybe we can secure you an honorary doctorate from the University of Proudly Not Knowing Stuff. There is no limit to the material you might not have read or seen.
Some of this went on with the World Cup as well. Indeed, much complementary ignorance separated followers of events in Russia and enthusiasts for the ITV reality show. Draw a Venn diagram covering people who feel totally awesome about not being able to recognise a photograph of Dani Dyer. Draw another covering those who proudly can’t tell the difference between Lionel Messi and Lionel Blair (or some more current Lionel). I predict only a tiny handful of defiant ignoramuses occupy the crossover space. No matter. It’s still worth hunting these people down and placing them behind barbed wire.
I can’t say with sincerity that I want to be able to tell one younger Kardashian from another
Let’s be clear what we’re talking about. I’m not getting disproportionately furious about people who haven’t got round to Love Island or people who can’t be bothered with football. I didn’t watch Love Island myself, but – until now, anyway – I haven’t felt the need to go on and on about it. You know who I’m talking about. They’ve been rocking back on their heels and boasting about not knowing stuff for centuries. They particularly enjoy “confessing” to ignorance about pop stars and, when more than usually overcome with comic genius, will unconvincingly savour getting the names wrong. “I honestly couldn’t name a single song by Ned Sheeran,” they might say. “Which one is Bing Crosby? Is he the one with the trumpet?” they used to say. “You tell me ‘Little Nell’ is at death’s door? I’m sorry to hear that. Is she a relative?” someone probably once said. It’s one thing to have no knowledge of a corner of popular culture. It’s another to trumpet your ignorance as if this sets you above beasts of the field in their Taylor Swift T-shirts.
We have all done it. Few of us have got through life without once smugly enjoying ignorance of a popular phenomenon. I can’t say with sincerity that I want to be able to tell one younger Kardashian from another. Nothing will stop me enjoying the fact that I can only identify one Irish rugby player from the current century. (The one that’s married to Amy Huberman. Is his name Brian O’Donovan? Ha ha! Do you see how annoying this is now?) An awful smirk comes across my face when I pass advertisements that feature men with arboreal necks applying toiletries or standing enormously beside expensive motorcars. “I know these men are famous rugby players because they have heads like stuffed cows,” I want to tell every passing stranger. “But I genuinely don’t know any of their names. Can I have a Nobel Prize?” Heck, I actually wrote a whole column about how I couldn’t identify a single Ed Sheeran song.
I too am a sinner. But I have acknowledged my sin and am committed to rehabilitation. Listen and prepare for your own redemption. There are two angles here. Firstly, the proud ignoramus – where sincerely ignorant – has insufficient information to permit disdain for the thing he or she seeks to disdain. People in the film reviewing line tend to get a bit of this.
“I don’t go to the cinema anymore because there’s never anything good on,” somebody says.
Russian socio-political satire
“Oh, I wouldn’t agree with that,” I say. “Did you not enjoy Russian socio-political satire X, delicate female coming-of-age drama Y or surprisingly intelligent horror film Z?”
It’s always better to have that useless information than to not have it
“I didn’t see any of them as I don’t go to the cinema anymore. There’s nothing good on, you see.”
You don’t know that Love Island isn’t a hoot. I haven’t seen enough stupid rugby to justify my calling it “stupid rugby”. Don’t knock Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again until you’ve seen Meryl Streep rise from the grave to sing Super Trouper with her 21-year-old self.
Secondly and more importantly, general ignorance of even the most irrelevant fact is bad for the soul. It’s always better to have that useless information than to not have it. It doesn’t matter if information gathered about Love Island or Ed Shanahan (I’ll stop now) brings you closer to an understanding of their appeal. It doesn’t matter if that information does nothing to justify your hitherto uninformed hostility either. Information is fuel. Information is energy.
You are not the only person who saw not a single second of Love Island. You are, however, less well informed than those who managed much more than that.
Dani and Jack won. You can have that for free.