I've left the papers alone for a while because there are times when it becomes too polluting to keep feasting on the rancid brain sausage they keep serving up. But I read something the other day that was so truly unpleasant that I couldn't leave it alone; it turns out that I'm drawn to these things like a bluebottle to shit.
There's something about these stories that is at the same time both searingly intimate and intrusive, yet utterly cold, without empathy or understanding of the consequences of things, or even bothering to consider that if - and it's really an if - this person did try to kill herself, then do we think it's in the best of taste, or entirely ethical, or understandable, or adds anything to our understanding of anything ever, for us to speculate as to what the causes might be? Maybe we know nothing of these people's lives; maybe it's not our right to know, just because someone is a model, or an actor, or a celeb of some kind, every detail about their private lives.
But no. It's all reduced to a sordid little priapic guessing game while a woman recovers from an overdose. Was it because of this man, or this man? And the speculation just carries on:
I don't know, is it? Well, you won't be amazed to discover that we don't really learn the truth in this article. We learn what 'friends' and 'sources' say about what has happened. Isn't it always lovely that 'friends' of someone going through a trauma, instead of rushing to that person's side to help and support them, do the much more decent thing and pick up the blower to the tabloid press to make sure they stick the knife in? That is, of course, if these people quoted really exist at all. You be the judge:
‘Noemie is extremely worried about Carl and has been suffering extreme angst,’ said another source in Paris.
‘Her relationship with Claude Makelele is important to her, but only because he is the father of her child. The real love of her life at the moment is Carl.’
Is it true or not? Did someone really say it? Is it just a feeding frenzy of speculation, without any consideration of the reality of what might be happening, of the traumatic events involved for the person at the centre of it, and their family and loved ones? Or isn't that important, if this is the woman from the M&S adverts and you get to show a lot of pictures of her in her pants, so we all understand exactly what she might look like in her pants, in case we weren't aware of what she might look like in her pants?
The Mail has form with these things, of course. Who can forget the delightful muckraking over the events surrounding TV presenter Mark Speight's disappearance, with readers allowed to pitch into the debate over his character and suitability as a human being when he was - as it turned out - feeling suicidal? Don't worry: the ill-informed kneejerkers who read the story about Noemie Lenoir have been able to have their say, as well, to really enlighten us and lift our understanding of this most sensitive of issues:
Those were the worst rated comments when I read the story. But sometimes the best rated comments don't appear to be a whole world better.
I think the thing is that no comments are really right for this story, because the story isn't right either. Even if someone does try to kill themselves, isn't that a private matter, even if they're a celebrity? (There is one well known example of a politician's family member attempting suicide and newspapers agreeing not to publish details. Why do that for them, but not for other people in the public eye? Who decides who gets privacy and who doesn't?) Does it really need to be feasted upon by people who don't know these people, and who drift into meaningless speculation about what's happened and why it might have happened; then for readers to pitch in with their views on how they've lost all respect for this person due to what they've supposedly done?
It's tawdry, and demeans every single thing around it. These newspapers are like rats on the slaughterhouse floor, licking the blood off their whiskers and revelling in the stench of it all. They couldn't care less about this celebrity's life, or about the million and one complex things which can come together in a person's mind to make them feel suicidal - if this is even what happened, and there's no way of knowing for sure. They couldn't care at all. They're just hoping we click on the picture of the pretty lady in her knickers, or find the page first on a search for 'Noemie Lenoir suicide' (and it's top of the Google search results right now, so trebles all round for a job well done!), and that's all there is to it. They really don't care about the humanity of the people in these stitched-together little tales at all. They're just meat for the grinder.
There are real issues with detailing 'suicide bids' and mental health issues - and it's not just the Mail who are the big culprits when it comes to this. They're pretty much all in a dead heat when it comes to stuff like this. It's a question of being as graphic as possible, as sleazy as possible, of digging up as much dirt as possible in as short a space of time as possible - and sure, if there isn't quite someone there to speak to on the record, because for some reason those close to the person involved care more about them than getting into the papers, then fear not... you can always rely on a 'friend' or a 'source' to come up with the perfect quote to fit into your story. Chop it up, slap it together, and let everyone throw a bit of shit at someone who's come close to death.
It's low. It's miserably tawdry and intrusive. And it's depressingly predictable.
See also: Septicisle - Callous, unfeeling scum.