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Caroline Flack’s Death Sparks “Be Kind” Campaign and Media Conversation

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  • Former “Love Island” host Caroline Flack died by suicide in her London apartment on Saturday. 
  • Flack was awaiting trial for alleged assault charges, a legal process that was unfolding in the public eye.
  • The world has responded with tributes and mourning, as well as condemnation for media outlets and social media trolls who aggravated Flack prior to her death. 
  • The message to “be kinder” has gained traction in the wake of the tragedy.

Tragic Death

When news of TV personality Caroline Flack’s death broke over the weekend, reactions ranged from tributes and mourning to anger and speculation over what might have led to her suicide.

Flack, who formerly hosted the popular reality TV show “Love Island,” died by suicide in her London apartment on Saturday. She was 40 years old. 

Flack had been in the midst of a public legal ordeal, as she was awaiting trial for allegedly assaulting her boyfriend, Lewis Burton. She was arrested in December when police were called to their apartment for a domestic incident, but she was released on bail awaiting her trial scheduled for March.  

Within a week of her assault charges, Flack stepped down from her position on “Love Island” so as “not [to] detract attention” from the show. 

“There have been a significant number of media reports and allegations in regard to my personal life,” she wrote in a statement on Instagram. “While matters were not as have been reported, I am committed to cooperating with the appropriate authorities and I can’t comment further on these matters until the legal process is over.”  

Following her Dec. 23 court appearance, Flack posted a message alluding to mental health struggles stemming from the publicity of her legal ongoings.

“This kind of scrutiny and speculation is a lot to take on for one person to take on their own,” she wrote on Instagram. “I’m a human being at the end of the day.”

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Push for Change

The news of Flack’s death has yet again drawn closer attention to the way that public figures are harassed by both the press and people across social media. Some are implying that it was this unfair treatment that pushed Flack to take her own life.

There has been public outcry against infamous British tabloids that extensively covered Flack’s legal charges, with The Sun even previously posting a headline calling her “Caroline Whack.” An online petition calling for “new and stricter laws around safeguarding celebrities and people in the public eye” gained over 549,000 signatures by Tuesday morning. 

Another petition was created to urge social media platforms to make online abuse illegal and has gained over 142,000 signatures. The hashtag #CarolinesLaw was trending over the weekend urging these sentiments. 

Even politicians have weighed in. On Monday, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson told BBC, “The industry must continue their efforts to go further. We expect them to have robust processes in place for removing content breaching their acceptable use policies.”

Russell Brand also blamed the public scrutiny of Flack for her untimely death, comparing it to that of Amy Winehouse.  

“I am angry and sad that Caroline Flack found herself in that place,” he wrote in a post on his website

“I am angry because I have watched this play out before with vulnerable people in the public eye and I would like to slay with some righteous sword the salacious, foaming, incessant poking, trolling judgment that chased her to the grave,” he added.

At the end of his post, Brand wrote that he hoped for a better future.

“Our best hope is to build relationships and communities based on kindness, forgiveness and compassion, not easy values to maintain given the complexity within us and without us but Caroline’s death shows us that the alternative is just too sad to bear,” he wrote.

“Be Kinder”

Aligned with Brand’s words, the message that has been repeated over and over following Flack’s death is to “be kinder” to each other.

Iain Stirling, the Scottish commentator on “Love Island,” gave an emotional tribute to Flack during Monday night’s episode with this message.

“We are all absolutely devastated by the tragic news that Caroline, a much-loved member of our Love Island family, has passed away,” he said. “Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this dreadful time.”

“My only hope is that we can all try and be kinder, always show love, and listen to one another,” Stirling added.   

Global fashion brand In The Style created t-shirts branded with the same message that Flack shared in one of her final Instagram posts in December: “In a world where you can be anything… be kind.” All the proceeds from the shirts are being donated to Samaritans, a charity that supports people with mental health struggles and suicidal thoughts. More than £100,000 has already been raised, according to the brand.

“In light of recent tragic events and recognizing ongoing mental health challenges faced by so many, we feel it’s so important as a brand to use our platform to raise further awareness to mental health and the impact surrounding this,” In The Style said.

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In light of recent tragic events and the ongoing mental health battles faced by so many we feel it’s so important as a brand to use our platform to raise further awareness to mental health and the impacts surrounding this. You honestly NEVER know what goes on behind closed doors and being kind costs nothing. We have created a ‘Be Kind’ tee and will be donating 100% of ALL profits to @samaritanscharity – They are a charity on hand 24/7 to support people who are suffering with mental health and suicidal thoughts. We want to be very clear that as a business In The Style will make no money whatsoever, we have also waved all delivery charges for purchases on the tee as this is solely to raise money and awareness for a very worthy charity and hopefully in light of such devastating news, we can all learn a very valuable lesson that in a world where we can be anything… be kind. ❤️

A post shared by In The Style (@inthestyle) on Feb 17, 2020 at 10:34am PST

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Fans have echoed the message across social media.

See what others are saying:(The New York Times) (BBC) (CNN)

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Joe Rogan Says Grimes Did Not Give Dave Chappelle COVID-19

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  • Comedian Dave Chappelle is under quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19. He is asymptomatic and his remaining shows in Austin, Texas have been canceled.
  • The news comes just days after Chappelle was photographed with Joe Rogan, Elon Musk, Grimes, and several others backstage at one of his Austin performances.
  • “Because people are asking, I was not exposed to the person who had covid and I have tested negative every day this week,” Rogan wrote on Instagram Friday. “Also, the person that gave covid to Dave was NOT Elon’s partner @grimes.”

Chappelle Tests Positive

Comedian Dave Chappelle has tested positive for coronavirus and is currently under quarantine, according to one of his representatives.

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, that rep also confirmed that he is currently asymptomatic and has canceled all of his remaining shows at Stubbs Waller Creek Amphitheater in Austin, Texas.

“Chappelle has safely conducted socially-distanced shows in Ohio since June 2020 and he moved those shows to Austin during the winter,” the statement read.

“Chappelle implemented COVID-19 protocols which included rapid testing for the audience and daily testing for himself and his team. His diligent testing enabled him to immediately respond by quarantining, thus mitigating the spread of the virus,” it continued.

Joe Rogan Speaks Out After He Was Photographed With Chappelle

Two of the remaining Austin shows were supposed to include fellow comedian Joe Rogan. Rogan took to Instagram Friday morning to announce that they will be rescheduled as soon as possible.

Still, many fans had questions about Rogan’s current state of health. The news of Chappelle’s positive test comes just days after he was photographed maskless with Rogan, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, musician Grimes, and several others backstage at one of his Austin performances.

Since Grimes, who is also in a relationship with Musk, recently had COVID, many were concerned that she may have exposed the group. Others wondered if Chappelle may have spread it.

Rogan eventually updates his Instagram caption to dismiss the ideas.

“Because people are asking, I was not exposed to the person who had covid and I have tested negative every day this week,” he wrote.“Also, the person that gave covid to Dave was NOT Elon’s partner @grimes.”

See what others are saying: (The Hollywood Reporter) (CNN) (AP News)

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Netflix Passes 200M Subscribers as Other Streamers Struggle With Retention

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  • In a letter to shareholders, Netflix said it has hit over 200 million subscribers following a successful year of growth.
  • The pandemic gave Netflix a significant subscriber boost in March and April. The company continued to perform well even in its final quarter, gaining 8.5 million subscribers when it was only projected to add 6 million.
  • The data also highlights how relatively unaffected Netflix has been by new streaming services entering the market. While companies like Disney+, HBO Max, and Peacock continue to grow, they also struggle to retain the subscribers that sign up.

Netflix Passes 200 Million Subscribers

Netflix has topped 200 million subscribers following a year of strong growth in 2020.

In its Tuesday letter to shareholders, Netflix announced that it added 8.5 million subscribers in its fourth quarter. This exceeds projections, which estimated the streaming giant would only add around 6 million. In total, Netflix gained 37 million new memberships throughout 2020, bringing the company to 203.6 million subscribers.

Pandemic lockdowns gave Netflix a substantial boost in March in April. In the company’s first two quarters, it added a combined 25.7 million subscribers. According to data from the letter, Netflix had added over 10 million more subscribers by May of 2020 than it had by May of 2019.

When it comes to the success of their fourth quarter, Netflix pointed to shows like “Bridgerton” and “The Crown.” The fourth season of “The Crown” hit the platform in November, prompting many to return to older seasons of the show. Netflix claims the series has been viewed by 100 million households since it first aired in 2016.

Success Amid Growth of Competition

The year 2020 could have been a difficult one for Netflix as new streaming services entered the market. Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Peacock and more have all made waves with their original programming or by taking some of their brand’s content from Netflix to host on their own site. User-based content on YouTube and TikTok also became increasingly popular throughout the pandemic, further posing as a threat to Netflix. 

Still, it reached a massive milestone. 

“Our strategy is simple: if we can continue to improve Netflix every day to better delight our members, we can be their first choice for streaming entertainment,” Netflix said in the letter. “This past year is a testament to this approach.”

Netflix potentially sees Disney+ as the biggest competitor among new platforms. In its letter, the company noted that the streamer added 87 million subscribers in its first year. In a Q&A, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings seemed enthusiastic about this competition.

“It’s super impressive what Disney’s done,” he said. “It’s going to be great for the world that Disney and Netflix are competing show-by-show, movie-by-movie. We’re very fired up about catching them in family animation, maybe eventually passing them, we’ll see. It’s a long way to go just to catch them, and maintaining our lead in general entertainment that’s so stimulating like ‘Bridgerton,’ which I don’t think you’re going to see on Disney anytime soon.”

Streamers Struggle with Retaining Subscribers

Even as new streamers have had impressive years, there is one hurdle that many are still struggling to jump over: retaining the subscribers who sign up. The Los Angeles Times named Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock, and Apple TV+ in particular, writing that people create accounts with these services, watch the TV shows or movies they are interested in, and cancel once they are done.

An October survey from Deloitte said that 46% of respondents canceled at least one streaming service in the last 6 months, which is up 20% from January of last year. Most who had canceled said they did so because they had finished watching whatever programming it was that brought them to that service. 

Places like Disney+ and HBO Max are really vulnerable to this because they have banked on drawing people in with exclusive marquis titles like “Hamilton” or “Wonder Woman 1984.” However, since they are newer, they are still building their original programming catalog, meaning that people can quickly burn through highlight titles. 

See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (Wall Street Journal) (The Hollywood Reporter)

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Paramount+ To Launch March 4

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  • ViacomCBS is launching Paramount+ in the United States and Latin America on March 4 before rolling out to other markets internationally later this year. 
  • The streaming service will be a relaunch and expansion of CBS All Access. It will include content from Nickelodeon, MTV, and more on top of the CBS-focused selection. 

Paramount+ Gets Launch Date

ViacomCBS will be launching its streaming service Paramount+ in the U.S. and Latin America on March 4 before rolling out in more countries throughout the year. 

It will be an expansion and rebrand of CBS All Access, the service the company currently offers that is used by nearly 8 million subscribers. Paramount+ will go beyond the CBS-centric content promoted there, including works from brands like Nickelodeon, MTV, BET, Comedy Central, and the Smithsonian Channel.

More details about their streaming strategy will be released during an investor event on February 24. Right now, ViacomCBS is boasting that the service will have over 30,000 episodes and movies in their catalog, which will also include live sports and breaking news. 

“The Paramount brand is known and loved all around the world, and is synonymous with great entertainment. It’s always brought people together, which makes it a perfect fit for a streaming service that’s uniquely positioned to do the same,” Josh Line the chief brand officer of ViacomCBS said during a brand announcement in September. “The Paramount+ streaming service will elevate ViacomCBS’ iconic family of brands.”

State of the Streaming Wars

Paramount+ has already announced a slew of original projects including a revival of “iCarly” and a series about the making of “The Godfather” titled “The Offer.”

The service is entering an already crowded battlefield as the streaming wars wages on. It will have plenty of uphill battles to fight since brand recognition for Paramount is not nearly as strong as it is for studios like Disney or NBCUniversal. It will also have to compete with Netflix, which leads the pack in subscribers and unveils new content regularly; HBO Max, which will be home to Warner Media’s new theatrical releases; and Hulu, which hosts original content as well as shows currently airing on cable and network television. 

ViacomCBS has not released information on pricing, but that will likely come during or before the February investor event.

See what others are saying: (Variety) (Deadline) (CNBC)

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