Our culture—particularly that of Western nations—thrives off the idea of building those in the public eye up and knocking them back down when the chance is granted. The death of Caroline Flack, who is well known as the host of Love Island and a winner of Strictly Come Dancing, on Feb 15 has caused celebrities and fans alike to call for others to #BeKind, paying homage to one of her final Instagram posts.
View this post on Instagram
Been advised not to go on social media … but I wanted to say happy Christmas to everyone who has been so incredibly kind to me this year….. this kind of scrutiny and speculation is a lot to take on for one person to take on their own… I’m a human being at the end of the day and I’m not going to be silenced when I have a story to tell and a life to keep going with …. I’m taking some time out to get feeling better and learn some lessons from situations I’ve got myself into to.I have nothing but love to give and best wishes for everyone ❤️
We are totally heartbroken. Caroline you were a ray of sunshine. You were always so kind and compassionate and your laugh was the best thing ever. Our hearts go out to Caroline’s friends and family. The world has lost someone truly special. Choose your words wisely and #BeKind pic.twitter.com/at46gPBlke
— Little Mix (@LittleMix) February 16, 2020
Caroline Flack (1979-2020)
As the sun sets on an island of love, you will shine on forever in a paradise above.
Rest In Peace Caroline.
Love @allontheboard #CarolineFlack #RIPCarolineFlack#RestInPeaceCarolineFlack #LoveIsland #BeKind #allontheboard pic.twitter.com/HT8qLjcAKm
— All on the board (@allontheboard) February 23, 2020
Flack was faced with heavy scrutiny following her arrest for allegedly assaulting her former boyfriend Lewis Burton, 27, (who has remained adamant about her innocence) in December.
Publications such as The Sun and Daily Mail were responsible for various negative articles dedicated to Flack’s personal life. The Sun even published an article—which has since been removed—mocking Flack’s court case in a Valentine’s card featuring a drawing of the presenter with a message saying “I’ll fucking lamp you,” only a few days prior to her death. The Sun is also responsible for publishing the most articles mentioning Flack in the six months before her death—with a total of 99.
In a heartfelt unpublished Instagram post released by Flack’s family, the reality TV host wrote, “The reason I am talking today is because my family can’t take anymore. I’ve lost my job. My home. My ability to speak. And the truth has been taken out of my hands and used as entertainment.” As advised by her management, Flack’s open letter was kept hidden until only days after her passing. She speaks of the feeling of being enclosed by the media, suggesting that maybe she needed to be heard.
At times like this, I often question why it takes tragedies—such as someone taking their own life or seriously harming themselves—as a basis for change? It seems as though we’ve accepted the media for what it is. Celebrities are often told they’re too “sensitive” and negative attention is only a byproduct of their decision to be in the public eye.
It may be the lack of accountability we hold. In tragedy, we often look for someone or something to blame. We want to point fingers at trolls, social media, the press; We want to point fingers at just about anything that makes it seem like it’s not our fault.
In reality, we all contribute to the broader picture. People who shouldn’t have the platform to speak of their opinions now have that. The press, who often chase engagement rather than sympathy, has an incredible grip on how we treat celebrities as a whole. It’s always anything for laughs which is not fair to those who have to undergo the effects of being berated day in and day out. Flack’s passing hasn’t been the first and surely will not be the last on account of the media.
There have been some positive steps taken in her honor, however, salons have decided against gossip publications and a petition has racked up over 800,000 signatures in a plea calling for “the British media to knowingly and relentlessly bully a person” to be made “a criminal offense.”
My condolences go out to Flack’s family and I hope for nothing more than a little more sympathy from the media. However, I think that starts with us.
Feature image via: ITV2