The weekend's papers are all carrying the verdict in Boy George's latest trial for false imprisonment. Most feature the image of the now bloated and sullen pop star as he arrived in court on Friday. His story, from 80s icon through to reinvention as a club DJ, is marred with drug abuse - a rollercoaster of highs and lows, comebacks and downfall.
Perhaps it is no surprise that Boy George finds himself in this situation. He was barely into his twenties when Culture Club exploded worldwide, with George thrust into megastardom. What must it be like to suddenly find yourself the centre of the universe? Especially at this time in a decade known for its excess - it is understandable that many stars of this time ended up trapped in drug addiction. Thats part of rock'n'roll, isn't it? an essential element to becoming a pop brand. The problem is, when the fame fades, who is there to help them pick up the pieces?
In no way should Boy George be summarily excused for his downward spiral - responsibility ultimately lies with him. But I also wonder how record labels get away without fingers being pointed at them. Big corporations have a duty of care towards their employees. Unfortunately artists are not seen as employees (the artists ego would never allow that) - rather they are commodities that labels exploit - but surely the label should play a part in guaranteeing their well-being. For each tabloid column inch reporting Amy Winehouse's perpetual deterioration, seldom do you see a comment from her label detailing what they are doing to help the singer get back on the straight and narrow. Is it because cleaning up her life would detract from the PR she receives for her lifestyle (forcing newspapers to actually talk about her music for a change?).
A court attendant at Boy George's trial was reportedly underwhelmed, muttering over "all this fuss about a has-been". Boy George was an iconic, flamboyant, colourful star that helped to shape British pop music - but ultimately he is as vulnerable to abuse as anyone. In an industry that does little to protect their assets, every artist is destined to become a "has-been". Lets hope that as the music industry starts to reinvent itself it will make more of an effort to take care of its most precious resource.