A young woman has tragically taken her own life. There are so many aspects to all this, it is quite bewildering. Trolls, the media, the CPS and ITV are getting a kicking.
As far as I can tell, Caroline Flack was a successful, well liked TV presenter. I did watch her in Strictly and she was amazing. There was an expression in her dancing that the other contestants could not compete with, as though she had a bottomless well of emotion she could tap into at will. She was, quite rightly, lavished with praise.
Love Island is one of those shows that fascinates a young demographic who are nimble with their thumbs, like my millennial offspring and their partners. Caroline Flack had 2 million followers on Instagram. Feeding that beast must be quite a burden. I notice Davina McCall said yesterday that she was going to have a quiet evening on social media and it struck me that her followers must expect daily or even hourly updates. Clearly, maintaining your celebrity status involves a lot more than just looking pretty.
Then, there’s the incident. Flack’s boyfriend called the police claiming she had tried to kill him by hitting him over the head with a lamp. Plod turned up to find boyfriend with a head injury and the accommodation trashed. He failed to co-operate but the police persisted and the CPS thought there was enough evidence to charge. A previous boyfriend, restricted by a non-disclosure agreement, said he wasn’t surprised, hinting there might have been previous. Flack, declaring her innocence, removed herself from Love Island to await trial. As part of bail conditions, she was prohibited from any contact with the alleged ‘victim’. In the meantime, the press had a field day speculating on all the details.
There are convincing reports of serious depression. Her description of waking up the morning after winning Strictly captures depression perfectly. She said she felt so low it was as though she was secured to the bed with cling film, completely unable to start the day. She had tried a number of anti-depressants but, apparently, found they made her numb. That’s what they do, neutralise the troughs and the peaks. Today, posthumously, people say they knew she was ‘fragile’ and ‘vulnerable’ but it’s unclear what support she had in place.
Has Flack been hounded to her death by nasty comments on social media, inaccurate press reports, a cold vindictive CPS and an irresponsible lack of care from ITV? Or was she a privileged individual who felt she was entitled to smash someone over the head with a heavy object and get away with it but realised she was going to get her comeuppance?
Either way, it’s a tragedy. It’s hard to imagine that she would have faced much punishment, even if convicted, and she would soon have made a glittering comeback. Everyone adores a prodigal celeb after a period in the wilderness, wearing a hair shirt. Just look at Ant. Now that the job of being a celebrity involves a social media presence, are they not taught to rise above the trolls and ignore the news cycle when something has gone wrong? Nasty, tasteless comments aren’t going to stop until anonymity is removed and the press/TV have always depended on celebrity mishaps to shift units to a voracious, rubber-necked public.
Fingers can point in many directions. Things are never as simple as they seem. Facts are hard to pin down. It’s unlikely the truth will ever be known through the fog of misinformation and hearsay. Poor Caroline Flack has become another victim of the celebrity meeja wars, canon fodder for the massive money-making machines of tech and media in today’s rapidly moving world. She won’t be the last.
Here she is enjoying life: