Label Volunteer writer, Katrina Sweeney, discusses the recent death of Love Island star, Caroline Flack.
Recently, we were all shocked to discover that Caroline Flack took her own life, leaving many people sad, confused and angry- understandably so.
Several events before her death have been seen as contributions to, or reasons for, Caroline’s unfortunate death. Being in the public eye brings many difficulties and her passing calls into question how the British media and newspapers may be responsible for or have contributed to Caroline’s death.
Caroline was predominantly known as ITV2’s Love Island host, whereby she immediately became a target for online abuse and trolling. It is common knowledge that she was under constant scrutiny from the British public, from mocking her slow-motion walk to people demanding for her replacement.
We recently learned through various newspapers that she’d been accused of assaulting her boyfriend after he called for help and stated Caroline had ‘cracked his head open’. The newspapers reported there was some kind of argument, leading to an ongoing case and Caroline facing a trial over the accused assault. Some may argue that the media escalated the situation and indirectly encouraged a surge of online abuse. As stated in Caroline’s final unpublished Instagram post, the incident was a private argument between the couple and announced, ‘I am NOT a domestic abuser’, calling into question how we are easily encourage into the ‘guilty until proven innocent’ mindset by newspaper and magazine articles. The media manipulated this information of the report crime to portray Caroline negatively, accusing her of being a domestic abuser.
Yes, she may have made wrong choices, and violence should never be condoned but she was condemned before she had even gone to trial. How would we, as a nation, cope if all of our mistakes were publicised for the world to see? Where acting out of hurt and anger, could result in the downfall of your career and then continued suffering and exploitation in the media, leaving you feeling hated and isolated? It’s important to consider tabloids may exaggerate and potentially worsen the mistakes celebrities make, to create interesting press, often at the expense of the individual’s feelings.
Can we take the newspaper’s words as truth? Was it fair to condone and demonise Caroline as guilty? Portraying a story that may not be the truth?
Whatever we may think of the information reported in newspapers, reliable or not, it seems the power the newspapers have directly impacts upon social media, influencing the opinions and views of the British public. Thus, these articles encourage individuals towards negative perceptions of celebrities, fuelling hate comments and trolling. Newspapers are influential in compelling the public’s dislike of individuals. It can be hard not to blame newspapers, with The Sun’s now removed article, titled “Brutal Caroline Flack Valentine’s Day card mocks troubled star with ‘I’ll f*** lamp you’ message’’ and The Daily Mail’s now deleted article, titled ‘‘This is the interior of Love Island presenter Caroline Flack’s £3,000-a-month apartment where she killed herself’’, exhibiting no sensitivity to the severity of the events.
Many are now campaigning for those in the public eye to be protected from newspapers condoning them as guilty. As Laura Whitmore summarised ‘to the press and newspapers who create clickbait who demonise and tear down success, we’ve had enough’. Author Matt Haig made an important point of how the media treats women ‘From Amy Winehouse to Rebekah Vardy, from Lily Allen to Meghan Markle, from Princess Diana to Caroline Flack, from reality TV stars to royalty. The women change, but the will to humiliate doesn’t. There is something deeply rotten here’. It is evident, change is necessary. Online platforms need to hold people accountable for their words and tabloids should be analysed before publication to consider the well-being of the individual being discussed, not preying on the vulnerable- as mental health is an important issue that should be taken seriously.
Newspapers need to exercise compassion, offering an objective perception rather than a highly opinionated approach to articles. People online should be held accountable for their words, but how can we control this? Is social media or newspapers solely to blame for this tragedy? Or society as a whole? Likewise, we all have our part to play. Maybe if we boycotted negative articles about people, demand would lessen and thus the negative stories would cease to exist, ending the cycle? But is this realistic? Why do we feel compelled to judge others?
Seeing people through a screen does not make them any less human. Caroline Flack’s death has led to the proposition of Caroline’s Law that would make it a criminal offence for the British Media to knowingly defame a person, whether they be in the public eye or not, till they take their own life.
One thing we should remember from this unfortunate event is to be kind.