I realise this blog post might ruffle a few feathers, but I genuinely believe that what I’m saying needs to be said by someone.
A so-called “Reality TV Star”, Caroline Flack, committed suicide in the UK this week. Apparently she was unable to cope with the pressure of public scrutiny of her life, and an impending criminal trial for assault on her boyfriend. This is sad; any suicide is a tragedy for those intimately involved and deserves our compassion. However the media, both print and digital, and those who inhabit the “celeb-o-sphere”, have been quick to generate and feed off a storm of faux grief. Caroline Flack, and her loved ones, will not be allowed to Rest in Peace while there is a buck to be made out of the story.
Reality TV isn’t real. Celebrity isn’t ‘real’, and yet for many people, it seems especially the young, pursuit of ‘fame’ seems to be a worthwhile ambition in its own right. The fact that TV shows like “Love Island”, in which Caroline Flack participated, even exist demonstrates the vacuousness of this cult of narcissism. Holding up body image (sculpted surgically or otherwise) as sufficient passport to fame is abhorrent because it preys on the vulnerable minds of those millions of young people for whom the “right look” and the “right life” is key to love, happiness, and security.
Caroline Flack found out the hard way that this is not true and yet the media is beating its breast, and crying crocodile tears, in an effected soul- searching for how she was let down. However harsh this may sound, if you put yourself in the lion’s cage you can’t complain if you get mauled. Celebrity, especially manufactured celebrity, needs the oxygen of public scrutiny. If one deliberately courts that scrutiny, as a career choice, there is no point in complaining about it. Those people who use celebrity as a career, and those who make money from them, are responsible. The managers, publicity agents, advertising executives, TV production companies and their sponsors, are responsible. Those people who “follow” the lives of celebrities, whether digitally or in person, are responsible. Those people who will, inevitably, gather in mawkish tribute, laying flowers and teddy bears in shrines, are responsible. The sooner we stop promoting and consuming this toxic rubbish the better. No chance.