Taking the Flak

A TV presenter has taken her own life. Whatever the context, that is tragic. People are shocked and upset that a life has been cut short.

Many others are pretending to be shocked and upset and demonstrate this through a cascade of sanctimonious dogpiling onto whomever they can link with the event. Some press outlets moved swiftly from sensationalism to the opposite pole of sanitisation – ‘[TV Presenter] has died’, which somewhat evoked natural causes rather than an unceremonious auto-exit. They are looking for maximum distance from any sense of dramatisation. The hypocrisy is palpable, but do we expect any different?

But let us not completely pan the press. Half the celebrities they cover, particularly the airhead presenters and wannabe stars are up to their necks with the tabloid and other arse-wipe periodicals. They all work together to create public interest which sells papers. That’s what the gutter press is all about. The hitch is that once the ‘star’ is established in the public eye, anything they do will sell papers. Then, any story is fair game, so the arrangement changes. In fact, there is no longer any arrangement. Reality parvenus, who think they can use the tabloids as a publicity adjunct to their own personal staff, get a rude awakening.

And they can hardly complain when the press spin it all and make up bollocks, because most of the good stuff is bollocks as well. So enough of this hounding talk – it is largely crap. Stars just learn the hard way that you’ll get burned when you play a game without understanding the rules. And it’s big boys’ games, big boys’ rules, baby.

Of course, the truly dubious hacks who were ferocious in dirt-digging and who are now reverse-ferreting with gushing tributes can of course be rightly slated for rank hypocrisy. That’s the risk they take in the whole mendacious cultivation of froth and bubble, so shed no tears for those arch-pricks. Yet even as their sausage digits are furiously tap-tapping delete on their most heinous journalistic tripe, most of it will be in vain. The internet keeps its receipts.

Next up for a bucket of Twittershit has been the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) who have been taking flak for charging the late star with assault, after she had hit a man with a lamp, causing a head injury. While he was asleep. You could imagine the furore if a man had full-on battered his sleeping spouse with a blunt instrument. The public would already be anticipating a deserved and unpleasant stay with Her Majesty, possibly illustrated with a lurid anticipatory account of an intimate encounter with ‘Big Leon’.

Instead, we recourse to the discourses of the past, namely that of the harmless and relatively minor ‘domestic’. It wasn’t so long ago that the CPS and police were being praised for tackling the hidden misery of the behind closed doors. How the woke opinion can change in a heartbeat. But in spite of the heroic post-fact legal argument presented that the sleeping lampee was a ‘witness’ not a victim, that case wasn’t going to hit the buffers any time soon. And it had nothing to do with high profile-scalp-hunting. Nobody should be above the law. But it wouldn’t have got much more parodic if they’d wheeled the victim out Steve Carrell, Anchorman-style, to proclaim, ‘I love lamp’.

Well, whatever the actual sequence of events that preceded the lamping, or even the lampooning as it has now become, the rozzers insisted on bail conditions of no contact between the two even though his evidence wasn’t required for the prosecution. That can only mean that they feared for the man’s safety. What other reason could there have been?

Now, I get the argument about the pressure of the process, even the one that states that care needs to be taken over the mentally vulnerable. Christ knows, I only recently wrote about it. But as for opening the floodgates to drop charges against anyone potentially fragile, well that would see an immediate halt to the majority of prosecutions in the UK courts and would herald the enthusiastic criminal exodus into a black holed loophole. Everybody would be opting for the big ticket to Walksville. Yes, there might be lower-level cases that merit out-of-court disposals but whacking someone over the head while in the land of nod surely won’t be one of them, particularly when there can be no doubt that it happened. We are not talking Fantasy Island, let alone Love Island. Another day, another angle – maybe a different lampshade – and we could have been talking murder. Then I wonder what the headlines would have been?

Who are they going to blame next? A defence lawyer who might have told her the truth that a custodial sentence was real possibility? The bottom line is, she knew this was a biggie. And yes, pretty scary to think that you’re off to the finger-house with the real risk that your cell mate might beat you senseless in your sleep.

Meanwhile, the blame game continues and a comedian, who made a joke about the presenter at a recent awards event, is now himself being ‘blamonged’. Guys, he’s already been punished – the joke was shit.

All these tree-hugging, mental health social justice warriors soon abandon their discourse on the complexities of mental health in order to dump on the nearest convenient patsy that presents itself and the party that ‘flicked the switch’. If suggesting that it was understandable that the poor girl had opted for the big offski after it was suggested that she had sneaked back onto television in a hedgehog suit, then by my reckoning, Tony Slattery must have propelled himself headfirst into a blender in about 1994.

By the time the punchline had been delivered, the late TV host had already long since clocked the bloke with the lamp, been cast defenestrated from her job (albeit on the elasticated rein of a suspension) and had her leopard skin collar felt. There was only one person responsible for all that, and it wasn’t the guy of the hedgehog bants. The lampee clearly wasn’t the only person in the wrong place at the wrong time.

So, back to the main topic: a young woman has deliberately ended her own life for her own reasons. It’s sad and tragic, but all those right-on bandwagonistas seeking to whitewash the context need to wake up and smell the Kofi.

She crashed and burned at the end of a long rollercoaster of booze and domestic violence and didn’t fancy what was coming next. It is of course appallingly depressing that she took that decision, but the only way to begin to understand the tribulations of mental health is to acknowledge that the problems stem from within. Keep focusing on everybody else and all you’re doing is ignoring the real issues and preparing the ground for the inevitable. There are many lessons to be learned but press regulation won’t be one of them. Nor will the censorship of jokes be another.

The most constructive lesson will be for all of us to stop consuming all this plastic self-absorbed reality shite and the associated social media toss that comes with it. The fake world it creates attracts fragile souls in vain attempts at self-actualisation and morphs into a breeding ground for generations of substance-abusing crash-test dummies. Not to mention providing oxygen for all the bandwagon-riders to further their fatuous agendas and use the ensuing tragedies as a vehicle for the justification of their own pointless existences.

Sadly, on this occasion, the person concerned killed herself to prevent her life getting worse and succeeded only in ending any chance that it might have got better.

We’d better gear ourselves up for the next one.

unsplash-logoJan Kopřiva

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