*Disclaimer This article does not go into the court case against Caroline Flack as I don’t know enough about it to give accurate detail and I choose not to speculate. Speculation from strangers seems to do more harm then good. *
Before I start this, I am aware that of all the people I could choose to write about, Caroline Flack probably isn’t the most expected. I’m a gig going, music video watching, autobiography-reading gal. Love Island? Never seen it.
However, Caroline Flack was someone that I grew up with. I first discovered her through watching the CBBC show TMI, that Caroline presented along with duo Sam & Mark. In a similar style to ‘Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow’, TMI was a children’s entertainment show, with celebrity guests, skits, cartoons and groups of kids entering competitions. The show first aired in 2006 when I was nine years old and it quickly became a firm favourite of mine. It was fun, clever, snappy, and I loved it, especially when the celebrity guests were musicians. The way the three presenters interacted throughout the show was heart-warmingly funny. They all seemed like they were having a genuinely good time and I’m sure that they were. Sam & Mark have both separately paid tribute to Caroline, calling TMI, ‘the most fun show ever’.
Between the ages of 14 to 16, I told anyone and everyone that I wanted to be a presenter. And that was because of Caroline. I really thought she had the life, getting to hang out with celebrities, wear amazing clothes, appear on TV night after night. However, something I didn’t realise at the time was the dark side to her career.
People take anyone who chooses to put themselves in the public eye as a ‘free-for-all’. This person has decided they want a life in front of the camera, that gives us the right to say want we want, correct? One little tweet or comment on an Instagram post isn’t actually going to have an effect on a celebrity - they won’t see what I’ve written.
And of course, then there’s the media. Sites such as The Sun and The Daily Star writing article after article, for our entertainment, to give us the inside scoop. It’s just a bit of gossip, it’s not going to harm anyone right?
Of course, as we sadly know now, this just isn’t true. It’s such a shame that it takes a tragedy like this for people to realise. Those same people who were once sending hate to Caroline Flack are now tweeting their condolences.
Those newspapers that tore her to shreds, spreading toxic lies have now deleted all their previous articles, replacing them with tributes to the star. Why did it take a death for them to realise the impact of their actions?
And I don’t blame anyone for reading those articles because we all do it. Newspapers and online sites purposely use catchy, shocking headlines that intrigue the viewer and make them want to know more. But imagine those articles were about you. And you were being picked apart in front of the whole world.
I know I’m not perfect and Caroline Flack wasn’t either. The difference is, that if I make a mistake; I don’t have to deal with the backlash from thousands of strangers hiding behind a keyboard, I don’t become the punch line to everyone’s jokes. I don’t have artists making Valentines Day cards illustrating my errors for their own amusements.
It was artist Samuel Hague, who made the card depicting Caroline referencing her abuse charge. The card was then featured in an article on The Sun’s website, poking fun at Caroline Flack, and informing the reader where they could get their own. When asked about the card Samuel Hague said, “There’s nothing I wish to add. I’m surprised that’s the card you choose to write about. I’ve joked about much worst.”
Since the death of the presenter was announced on Saturday 15th February 2020, Samuel Hague has removed the card from his website, as well as deleting his Instagram and Twitter. The Sun has deleted the article about the card from their website.
The story of Caroline Flack is one that we have unfortunately seen before and we will see again if there are no changes to the law surrounding tabloids and to how people use social media.
All I can really say right now is be kind and be aware. Be aware that your actions have consequences. Spread positivity in the world. You truly have no idea what someone is going through behind the scenes of their perfect Instagram feed.
And if you are someone that is struggling, please speak out. There are so many ways for you to get help, friends, families, doctors, charities, and crisis lines. It’s difficult and scary and incredibly hard to do but you are a friend, a child, a family member, the world will miss you if you go.
Mental Health UK: https://mentalhealth-uk.org/
R.I.P Caroline Flack, 09/11/1979-15/02/2020