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Caroline Flack: Forgetting past mistakes and the toxicity of the media

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Quite rightly, the nation has been saddened by Caroline Flack’s death. It’s horrendous to think that anyone ever feels the need to end their own life (and if you ever find yourself in this situation, please call Samaritans on 116 123).

In Flack’s case, it’s also devastating to think that the intensive media scrutiny she faced contributed to her suicide, as many people have stated.

Yet, in the wake of her death, I do think that people seem to have forgotten why the media started to criticise Flack in the first place. At the end of the day, she was arrested for allegedly hitting her sleeping boyfriend over the head with a lamp.

Since her passing, this act has been dismissed as ‘an argument that got out of hand’, with her supporters protesting that ‘arguments happen in every relationship’.

Personally, I think this is massively insulting to survivors of domestic violence, who shouldn’t have to see the abuse they have suffered trivialised.

Moreover, spreading the idea that such behaviour is ever ‘normal’ is toxic and, in the worst-case scenario, may even discourage some victims of such behaviour from seeking help, if they are led to believe that to do so would be to ‘over-react’. Whilst it’s true that the media provided excessive, and often scathing, coverage of Flack’s fall from grace, we shouldn’t use this as an excuse to claim that media criticism is the sole ‘reason’ for her suicide. After all, she had been accused of a serious crime, and her actions were scrutinised as a result.

Of course, Caroline Flack is just the latest in a long line of celebrities to receive such treatment, with any negative behaviour forgotten after their deaths. Moving forward, I think we need to remember that it’s perfectly acceptable to be sad that someone has died, without acting as though their actions are suddenly above all criticism, simply because they have passed away.

Em Richardson

We can all agree that the death of Caroline Flack was a tragedy that could have been avoided. Yet in the aftermath of her death, we must ask ourselves if the way we mourn dead celebrities is sufficient.

Twitter has been filled with outpourings of love and compassion towards Flack and those close to her, but as is usual with twitter, there are a few who wish to erase all the negatives in Flack’s life, including the allegations of abuse towards her partner.

However, in today’s society many people, myself including, have decided that all people must be held accountable for their wrongful actions. As many people, mourn her death, they have offered their condolences whilst also saying that she should be held accountable for her actions.

Instead of arguing about her death, the issue we should be discussing is the media and their toxic hounding of celebrities in the media, vis a vis Princess Diana and her tragic death. Flack’s death could have been avoided if the media did not hound her with the vigour at which they did.

Despite what she may or may not have done, no one deserves the treatment she endured under the media’s gaze.

Whether or not she was guilty of abuse, we may never know, but what we can take from this tragic event is that the media’s dogmatic hounding of Flack and other celebrities of interest is toxic and ultimately benefits no one but themselves. Is a sensationalised story really worth the life of someone?

I highly doubt that anyone among us will ever answer in the affirmative. So why does the mass media seem to be invulnerable to valid criticism, that they themselves seem to peddle on a daily basis? As consumers of mass media it is up to us to change the way in which mass media writes about celebrities.

Patrick Young

Last modified: 27th February 2020

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