Ciara O'Connor: 'I'm A Celeb is no Love Island – there's too little snogging and too many clothes'

Viewing figures for I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, or as I like to call it, ”I’m a Celebrity, and I’m too famous for a normal job but not famous enough to afford my tax bill!” have plummeted since the launch episode, which pulled in 10.63m viewers.

Last week’s offerings were watched by only about half of that, amid criticism that this year’s line up aren’t well-known enough, aren’t single enough and aren’t showering provocatively enough.

Basically, despite the fact that we’re only just recovered from the last series of Love Island, and that there’s a supplementary winter series of it starting literally next month, ITV viewers are absolutely furious that I’m a Celebrity is not, in fact, Love Island.

In fairness, I can see where the confusion arose, with the communal bedroom and participants at their all-time lowest weight, and the powerful schadenfreude that characterises the viewing experience, with fellow humans humiliating themselves and others and being tortured by ITV producers. It is tantalisingly Love Island-y. But they insist on letting in people over the age of 30, who are not ostensibly looking for love. There’s too many ordinary folk and not enough snogging.

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Cast your minds back to 2006, when Myleene Klass had a shower on telly in a white bikini, resulting in an image so engrained in our cultural DNA that we know Myleene’s semi-naked body better than we know our own. It rapidly became the point of I’m a Celebrity; but they were more innocent times, just on the cusp of broadband internet, when the idea of nudey celebs at our (metaphorical) fingertips was somewhat novel.

The people complaining about a lack of ”Myleene moments” this series seem to have forgotten that if they want to see pretty ladies in bikinis, they can search that exact term on their phone and get 64,900,000 results in 0.54 seconds.

In fact, they could quite comfortably watch a fugly happily married soap star eat spiders on TV at the same time as replaying Myleene’s shower scene on their phone. There’s enough celebrity-in-bikini content out there to cleanse your mind several times over of any residual images of Andrew Maxwell in budgie-smugglers. And if it’s snogging they’re after, well – they’ll be more than served by Google.

The best shower content we have had so far on the series is Nadine Coyle in an alarmingly high coverage non-push-up white bikini, paying no heed at all to her camera angles and diligently shampooing her hair, the way normal people shampoo their hair, not like a Herbal Essences advert. Meanwhile, Caitlyn Jenner gives Kate Garraway, who is wearing an aggressively bulky towel around her waist, an unsolicited cosmetic surgery consultation.

I’m a Celebrity should give the people what they really want in 2020: cherry pick the most objectionable Love Island alumni, sprinkle in a touch of Celebs Go Dating and make the jungle uniforms much, much smaller.

And bring back Myleene Klass.

*******

Last week, a rash of Spotify screenshots appeared over social media, as the music-streaming app gave subscribers a run-down of their most-played artists, songs and albums from the year. Obviously, people shared the results for an ideal opportunity to humble-brag about their off-beat and surprising tastes. I saw precisely zero people boasting about having listened to 900 hours of Ed Sheehan, and yet Spotify revealed that he is one of Ireland’s most-streamed artists for 2019 alongside Post Malone, Billie Eilish, Lewis Capaldi and Ariana Grande.

It’s tempting to look for hot takes about what this says about contemporary Ireland – but the truth is that (bar Lewis Capaldi) these artists are the most-streamed globally.

So if we are to learn anything about Ireland, it’s that we have no defining musical tastes at all, bar a more slightly larger soft-spot for sentimental Sheerany nonsense as represented by Capaldi – which perhaps offers a modicum of hope for our national identity.

The internet has dissolved musical borders: a teenager in Cork is likely listening to the same thing as a teenager in New York. And Spotify has ushered in an era of heavily-diluted hip-hop influenced muzak, easy-listening rap, and sad-man background music.

Streaming has made music into a passive activity, and these boring men who you just want to hose down and scrub vigorously, are as passive as they come.

There’s even a name for this kind of algorithm-honed sound: Spotifycore. Hooks and choruses come quicker to lower the ”skip-rate” – which can hurt a song’s chances of getting on to those all-important king-making Spotify-mandated playlists.

We listen to Sheeran, so Spotify recommends Lewis Capaldi. When you listen to Capaldi it will recommend Post Malone and so on in a nightmarish loop. Ireland never stood a chance.

But don’t despair, because the list of Ireland’s most-watched YouTube videos was more illuminating – and more Irish.

The top two spots were occupied by American YouTube global megastars: first came make-up prodigy turned millionaire influencer and businessman James Charles’s account of the profoundly boring feud between him and another influencer back in May. It’s 41 minutes long and I don’t recommend it.

Second, bafflingly, is feature-length conspiracy nonsense by original YouTuber Shane Dawson, who talks about phones listening to you and appears to believe that consumer researched-based marketing is a conspiracy: threatening music plays as Dawson hammily tells us that watch adverts usually show clock faces at 10:10 because it resembles a smiley face, which makes people happy.

The number three and four spots are occupied by honest to God good homegrown Irish man-comedy.

Four is a sketch by Foil Arms and Hog about our favourite national sensitive subject: the Irish language, the dearth of fluent speakers, and our tendency to exaggerate our skills when abroad.

At number three is Could Have Been County a song by The 2 Johnnies which shines a light on a comedically-underserved archetype: the lad in the pub who’ll tell you he could have gone all the way in GAA. Oh My God What A Complete Aisling has almost certainly squeezed all the laughs it can out of a certain type of normal Irish girl; but The 2 Johnnies have written her male counterpart. Or they actually are her male counterparts; Man-Aislings; Manshlings. It’s hard to tell. Ireland, it seems, really does have a very sweet sense of humour. And an incredibly high tolerance for listening to absolute sh**e: go figure.

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