More Flummery and Piffle than Real Contrition over Flack

By Carrie Foster

The current hand wringing over Caroline Flack taking her own life is as predictable as it is nonsense to think that “Caroline’s Law” will ever be anything other than a social media moment.  Blame the media, blame the prosecutors for persecuting a show trial or blame trolls on social media.

Or not.

Because WE are the guilty party.

I’ve done it myself, bought and read trashy celebrity magazines.  I knew it was complete trash and used to joke that my weekly Heat Magazine purchase was so I could turn my brain off for an hour.  I don’t bother anymore because I’m too out of touch to have an interest in most of the celebrities since I no longer watch Big Brother, X Factor and never got into Love Island.  However, I do still read the salacious headlines on various tabloid websites, usually via a link on my FB feed.  What you haven’t?  Balderdash. How did you even know about Flack pleading not guilty to common assault?  Or her lawyers trying to overturn the court order that she remain incommunicado with her boyfriend, the ‘so-called’ victim of the attack.  How did you know she had committed suicide and haven’t we all been busy tell each other on social media platforms how awful it is, and how right it is that love island was cancelled for… one whole night.  I don’t even watch Love Island but I sure as heck watched the video of the Love Island tribute on YouTube.

My daughter (who is ten years old) told me in the car this morning that she watched Dr Phil (not something I have ever watched myself) and relayed how hilarious it was that Dr Phil “mauled” some girl who was branded evil because she had killed her hamster. My response, was that I wasn’t sure if it was appropriate she was watching Dr Phil.  Not how awful for the girl or that it would be better if she got help from a proper psychologist instead of a TV doctor who isn’t even licensed to practice psychology, or why are her parents letting her go on a show like that?

I have failed as a parent.

Every single time we consume this stuff, we become complicit in this circus.  Humans have thrived on human misery since the dawn of time, but rather than witch trials and hangings and beheadings in public squares we now amuse ourselves 24/7 celebrity stories on the gossip pages.  It’s not just a woman thing either, although most media aimed at women focuses on gossip, nope, it’s the tittle tattle for men as well. It’s not even just celebrities, it’s all those other avenues for human maulings; Jerry Springer, Trisha, Judge Judy and Judge Rinder.  Do you think The Jeremy Kyle Show ran for 16 series by mistake?  It’ll still be running now if it wasn’t for the fact that a guest died in May last year.

Ah yes, the guest who committed suicide as a result of failing a lie detector test on The Jeremy Kyle Show. Do you even remember his name?

Steve Dymond

But don’t worry Jeremy Kyle has a new show called “The Kyle Files” where he investigates issues that impact on the lives of people across the UK, same shtick just dressed up as a documentary.

Do you even remember that there was a parliamentary inquiry into the duty of care of participants in reality TV as a result of Steve Dymond’s death and the suicide of two love island contestants who found fame on the show Caroline Flack hosted. Do you remember their names?

Sophie Gradon

Mike Thalassitis

That particular select committee’s inquiry hasn’t been concluded but finished because of the dissolution of Parliament in December.  So… nothing.

But don’t worry there is double the love this year, because Love Island has two series for 2020, the one running currently and a new Winter Love Island in South Africa.  Phew.

Is it cynical to think that Caroline Flack’s suicide will be tomorrow’s proverbial chip paper?  I’m old enough to remember being woken up to the news that Diana, Princess of Wales has been killed, a direct result of her being pursued by the paparazzi.  Oh, how we agonised over the media’s treatment of the people’s princess….fast forward two decades and we arrive at the salacious gossip mongering regarding the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, which got so bad that, amid much furore, they quit royal life and are choosing to live their life in Canada – it hasn’t stopped the harassment from the media – today’s headlines generated by organisations from ITV News, The Times and Cosmopolitan and splashed all over social media (which is how I know) is that Harry and Meghan aren’t allowed to use the Sussex Royal brand.  This information reported gleefully by all and sundry despite the couple stating that their reason for stepping down was because they felt they had no option and hoped for a more peaceful life having been subject to intense scrutiny.

But don’t worry, we will continue to get headlines and highlights about the couple.  I’m sure that even though the media can’t wheel out the excuse that they are on the tax payers dollar so therefore public interest is legitimate, their story will run, and run, and run.


It’s simple economics. The media only produces what sells and what sells is what people choose to buy.  The problem isn’t the media, or the justice system or even the trolls. WE ARE THE PROBLEM.

Until we change our habits regarding what media WE CHOOSE to consume, people will continue to have their lives ruined, possibly dying tragically when it all gets too much… and the show will go on, and on, and on.


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