The Big Mood: It is what it is

One week, one mood: Moya Lothian-Mclean’s deep-dive into the feel of the week.

Love Island came ooz­ing back onto our screens this week. The nation plugged in, some­what duti­ful­ly. Cloud­ing pro­ceed­ings was a per­va­sive sense that sum­mer 2018, with its weeks of inter­rupt­ed sun­shine and night­ly foot­balling highs pre­ced­ing Love Island broad­casts, might have been the peak, for both the pro­gramme and the nation. But we sol­diered on any­way and were quick­ly reward­ed with a phi­los­o­phy for the ages.

It is what it is,” mut­tered Love Island con­tes­tant Sherif Lanre dur­ing the first episode, after being round­ly reject­ed as a poten­tial part­ner by all the women. Fel­low Islander Michael Grif­fiths, an extreme­ly attrac­tive Scouse fire­man with a bio­med­ical degree picked it up just min­utes lat­er, upon being ditched by Lucie Dolan.

Like my type on paper”, and my heads been turned” before it – imme­di­ate­ly, the phrase gained traction. 

It is what it is. It is… what it is. At once begrudg­ing, petu­lant and mag­nan­i­mous by turns, the beau­ty of this par­tic­u­lar mantra lies in its ulti­mate accep­tance. A sit­u­a­tion has been assessed, per­haps found want­i­ng but still, there is noth­ing to be done and there­fore only one route remains: to make your peace and look towards the future. 

It is what it is’ is a state­ment of the lit­er­al, sure, but it is also a expres­sion of the abstract, of a state of poten­tial­i­ty’, as one psy­chol­o­gist put it. What it’ refers to depends on the con­text and as such, the sen­ti­ment of accep­tance takes on dif­fer­ent tenors. 

It’ could be hap­pi­ly sink­ing into the oily embrace of Love Island and its inevitable dom­i­nance over all social feeds for the next eight weeks. It’ might refer to the nau­seous real­i­sa­tion that no mat­ter how many peo­ple oppose the state vis­it of a qua­si-fas­cist, the UK is going to roll out the red car­pet regard­less, shake hands and plot to sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly dis­man­tle nation­al health­care togeth­er.

By turns, it’ is good and it’ is bad but what­ev­er it’ is, pow­er­ing it is the knowl­edge that life must go on and you must – in the words of a wise children’s film – accept it and let it go”. It is what it is. Big mood.


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