Film directors have always known that the spectacle of couples falling in love and making love is in itself too intense for us to experience. It has to be mediated; staged and performed in a signified way – dramatised at a safe distance. In a similar way pornography needs also to be mediated through dramatic irony or even blatant slap stick … like for instance the cliche story line around a plumber entering into a scene to check out a sexy babes plumbing etc.
Why then, does Love Island seem like such a guilty pleasure? Is it because we might in some way feel like we are colluding in the selling out of what we know love to be?
Lacan had a very unusual idea of what love is. He said that love is giving what we don’t have – he was alluding to the idea that as a person we are incomplete, that there is a part of us that will never find satisfaction, it is our desire which can never be fulfilled and when we fall in love we offer that nothing of ourselves as a gift, and we are rendered vulnerable by the knowledge that the other can reject that nothing. And this nothing is something beyond what we possess; our body, our possessions, our knowledge, experience etc. It is the very horizon of our desire.
The big myth that is played out in courtly love is that the act is some kind of exchange, of the body, the personality or other kind of object thing. Maybe the big sellout in a show like Love Island is that it fetishes this myth that love is an exchange of something real and tangible?