‘Caroline Flack’s death is tragic but now is not the time for blame game’
I haven’t slept well since the news broke about Caroline Flack. I can’t stop thinking about it.
My friends are all the same. Obviously it’s horrible, and would affect anyone with a heart, but the way it’s dominating our thoughts is… unexpected. A bit confusing.
None of us ever met her, we didn’t know her. But we felt like we did.
Caroline connected strands of popular culture like no one else: Strictly, The X Factor, I’m A Celebrity, Love Island, the royal family, One Direction.
We were invested in her in many different ways, from lots of separate angles.
And now, the loss of her stings, in many different ways, from lots of separate angles.
It’s that peculiar experience of national mourning for a stranger, like Princess Diana or Jade Goody.
But in this case, the widespread sadness almost instantly became anger, aimed scattergun-style in every direction.
People were desperately scrabbling around to discover whose fault it was. The blame game had commenced.
And so, fingers were pointed:
– At ITV, because it’s claimed they didn’t support Caroline the way they did Ant McPartlin after his drink-driving charge. Yet they insist they were in contact with her throughout. At Love Island, because it’s the third suicide associated with the show. But Caroline was the host, not a contestant.
– At David Walliams, because he made a joke at Caroline’s expense at last month’s National Television Awards in front of millions. But the worst you can say about that was that it wasn’t funny.
– At the media, because the domestic abuse charges against Caroline were reported, and so were details of her court appearance. Yes, she was famous so people were interested – but court appearances by non-celebrities are reported every day. It’s about justice being seen to be done, no matter who you are.
– At the Crown Prosecution Service, because they pressed ahead with the trial, even though Caroline’s alleged victim boyfriend didn’t want them to. Legal experts have explained this happens because otherwise it rewards those who successfully coerce their partners into withdrawing accusations. One thing is clear – it is possible to be devastated Caroline is dead, and still take the charges against her seriously.
– At social media, because for years she’s faced a barrage of relentless abuse. Caroline admitted she’d been advised to stay away from it, but that must have been difficult, as she’d engaged with it so thoroughly beforehand. When you’re used to sharing everything, not doing so at all is maybe too alien a concept. And knowing people are talking about you, but not having a look at what they’re saying would take a strength not many possess.
Perhaps we’re looking for someone to blame because subconsciously we all feel guilty. Maybe we read the stories, looked at the photos, consumed the social media, followed the ups and downs of a glamorous, turbulent life, or all of the above. I truly believe that no one – even the most vicious troll – ever thought that this might be the end result though.
Caroline’s story is important. A parable for our times. It says as much about us as it does about her.
And when the dust settles and the shock subsides, hopefully we’ll be able to work out what that is – and do something about it.
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