the baggy trousered misanthropist

missives issued from the lair

As a presenter of X-Factor, Caroline Flack rarely swings by my orbit. She’s fine with that, I’m fine with that. We’re cool.

When she got involved with the woolly looking kid from One Direction, the possibility of a 31-year-old embarking on any kind of relationship with a 17-year-old had never been considered  in the realm of human possibility and the media treated the story with the over dramatic face-palming such a coup warranted.

It was then she appeared on my radar. I wasn’t overjoyed. Neither, I would imagine, was she.

Don’t look! You’ll be set upon! Image: Danny Martindale/Getty Images. 

That was last year. Styles and Flack did not get married and live happily ever after.  They broke up after three months, presumably tired of paps climbing up their drainpipes and hiding in their bins, but not before Flack had been on the receiving end of death threats from furious, affronted One Direction fans. Today, a full nine months later, she wakes up to discover she is the main feature in a One Direction fan magazine, which includes a handy voodoo doll, in case you missed the point.

While no one in their right mind would ever condone the kind of response the band’s fans had to the saga at the time, jealously and hatred toward the partner of a successful male has been around since The Beatles. It’s nothing new and even vaguely understandable in a teenage girl who is trying to work out how she feels about the world.

Tacitly approving it by covering it in the newspapers, probing the propriety of people’s private thoughts and emotions and speculating on the sordid details is new though. Couple this with organised shoals of fans spamblasting offenders on Twitter and infantile condemnations of a woman’s age, look and personal conduct and we have a deeply unpleasant future on our hands.

Without moral responsibility, just exactly how are teenagers going to learn that bullying is in no way acceptable, and certainly not the correct and rational response to provocation? An adult will have approved that page, in which Caroline Flack is described as ‘looking like a goat‘, a ‘grandma‘ and ‘having an outer hide like leather‘. An adult who presumably has no interest in what he or she publishes, just in the sales figures it pulls in.

Meanwhile, Styles has come out of this like the all-conquering hero, a loin-trembling Lothario who is working his way through the over 30’s Z-list like it’s a tasting menu. And all because a few young girls has been identified as a lucrative revenue stream.

It’s almost like they’re trying to perpetuate the gender gap for money, isn’t it?

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