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The Male Gaze or Male Gays? From Romance to Bromance through Performances of Gender and Sexuality by two of Love Island’s Favourite Characters

Silverio, SA, Wilkinson, C and Wilkinson, S (2021) The Male Gaze or Male Gays? From Romance to Bromance through Performances of Gender and Sexuality by two of Love Island’s Favourite Characters. Sexuality & Culture. ISSN 1095-5143

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This paper draws on two favourite characters from British reality television show, Love Island 2018: Jack Fincham, a former stationery sales manager, and Alex George, an Accident & Emergency [A&E] doctor, to explore how heterosexual norms are constructed and challenged. We study the romantic on-screen relationships these characters have with the female contestants, and between the two male characters themselves through the notion of ‘bromance’. Through a textual analysis of the spoken words and physical interactions between characters in episodes forming the fourth series of Love Island and analysis of social media posts and articles in popular press outlets, we use the notion of gender performativity to explore how these characters perform both hegemonic and, what we argue is, ‘threatened’ masculinity. We use the ‘Male Gaze’ to methodologically lens the performances by characters and their romantic interactions on the television show. In particular, we focus on Jack and Alex’s budding relationship and the condemning of this relationship by the public amid Alex’s termination of his romantic relationship. The decision by Alex to end this relationship led to many viewers questioning his sexuality, with specific reference to his adoration for Jack. Whilst broadly, this paper contributes to debates on the sociological potential of reality television shows, such as Love Island, its specific contribution is to a small, but growing body of international scholarship on homosocial relationships and male love stories in television and film. With this paper, we also contribute towards redressing the marginalization of women within the study of bromance.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 1117 Public Health and Health Services, 1608 Sociology, 2002 Cultural Studies
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Education
Publisher: Springer
Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2021 12:23
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 05:33
DOI or ID number: 10.1007/s12119-021-09860-7
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/14849
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