Should reality TV producers have a legal duty of care?
UPDATE: Susan Boyle has been admitted to The Priory after suffering a nervous collapse, Britain’s Daily Mail reports.
Susan Boyle’s life has changed for ever. It is now rumoured that she will obtain a recording contract, a book and movie deal. Her days of unemployment and living in public housing in a small village in Scotland have come to an end. But is she at risk of exploitation and will she be able to handle to the pressures of fame? Should the producers of Britain’s Got Talent have a duty of care because they ‘created her‘?
Even though you may not know who won Britain’s Got Talent, you will know Susan Boyle was runner-up. The 48 year old frumpy spinster became an overnight sensation when she auditioned for the popular UK show. The audience who originally laughed at her gave her a standing ovation once her beautiful singing voice was revealed. Add in 100 million hits on YouTube and you have an international superstar.
In fact Britain’s Got Talent producer’s were the first to exploit her by allowing her to be laughed at during her audition because she appeared to be ugly, old, and thick. Since then stories started to emerge which would indicate an emotional immaturity, a previous learning difficulty and the possibility she is mentally unstable.
Incidences reported include storming out of a hotel after judge Piers Morgan praised another contestant, and losing her temper with two strangers who were out to “wind her up”.
Also The Sun reveals her nickname in the village is Rambo after the troubled fictional film hardcase “for years”.
A neighbour told The Sun: “The reason is because if Susan doesn’t get what she wants, she goes wild.”
Another added: “It’s not unusual to see her freak out over the smallest thing.
Reality TV thrives on the quirky, deluded and the freaks for laughs particularly in the audition processes of Australian and American Idol. Unfortunately they sometimes allow the vulnerable and the mentally unstable to be used as their TV fodder, but very rarely will they make it past the audition phase. Susan Boyle did.
Susan who appears to have led a very sheltered life will be vulnerable to grasping managers, corrupt accountants, and lotharios who will want to get their hands on her money.
Support systems need to be put in place to help her cope with her new found fame and the pressures this will bring. Also once her fame starts to decline, which it inevitably will, and she is no longer a marketable commodity it is likely she will need assistance to cope.
Since Britain’s Got Talent has now made money from her because of the interest she generated, they do have a responsibility for her emotional and mental well being. They need to ensure people she can trust will guide her career, and protect and assist her emotionally.
The majority of people see the Susan Doyle story as a fairy tale with a happy ending, however it is a story that may have a sequel which may not be so glossy.
By the way if you are wondering who won first prize on Britain’s Got Talent it was an urban dance group called Diversity.
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