Tuesday, August 19, 2008 

What a difference a year makes...

TONIGHT is a moment of truth for Britain.

Out of nowhere, a Channel 4 show watched by a few million has erupted from being a bit of a laugh to a defining moment in the way Britain is seen by the rest of the world.

Make no mistake. Much more hangs on tonight’s Celebrity Big Brother eviction vote than the issue of whether Jade Goody or Shilpa Shetty stays in the house.

At stake is whether we are happy to be seen as a nation willing to tolerate vile bullying and foul-mouthed yobbishness.

That is why The Sun urges every reader who loves Britain to pick up a phone and make sure the ghastly Jade Goody is kicked out tonight.

SANITY has prevailed. Thank Heaven for that. Jade Goody went into the Big Brother house appearing to be simply a fun-loving working-class girl canny enough to have made millions from her 15 minutes of fame. It was all a meticulously manufactured lie. She has left the house with her true personality laid bare: A vile, pig-ignorant, racist bully consumed by envy of a woman of superior intelligence, beauty and class. Incredible as it may seem, last night’s vote was the most important in Britain since the last General Election.


Hopefully Jade will now slither back under the rock from where she crawled before her debut on Big Brother in 2002.

And so, 18 months later:

Get well Jade: Your messages

PLEASE post your messages of support and goodwill for BB legend Jade Goody

Whether once Jade has recovered from her cancer scare she'll be required to crawl back under her rock again, or once the silly season is over, whichever comes first, is entirely at the whim of Rebekah Wade.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007 

Scraping the bottom of the racist barrel while fleeing the sinking ship.

(As always, the following is based mainly on what I've read and the clips I've seen. I haven't watched the actual show.)

For those who have been surprised by the vehemence of the bullying of Shilpa Shetty on Celebrity Big Brother, the only genuinely astounding thing about it is that such reprehensible behaviour has occurred on the "Celebrity" version rather than the longer running and far nastier normal version for the proles.

Whether the behaviour of Jade, Jo, Jack and Danielle is based on racial prejudice, general ignorance or simple jealousy is harder to tell. Here is a stunningly beautiful, cultured, successful actor, thrown into a house with a failed former pop group singer, a winner of a beauty contest as a result of having her boyfriend on the judging panel and a runner-up in the third series of the same reality show she has now returned to. It was obvious that sparks were meant to fly - that's why Donny Tourette and Carole Malone were there in the first place, but with the former having fled once realising he would have to put up with Jade's extended family and the latter being a kitten in real life compared to the Glenda Slagg she is in print, the show was limping as a result. Ratings were down, fans were complaining that the presence of Jade had ruined the show, and it looked as if the words "damp" and "squib" were going to be universally employed by hacks everywhere.

The producers were probably utterly ecstatic as the conflict between Shetty and the others gathered pace; just what they wanted. They could not have bargained though on just how nasty the bullying was going to become, and how it was going to be seen as racist in nature. Although Jade's mother had repeatedly referred to Shetty as "the Indian", not bothering to learn how to pronounce her incredibly difficult two-syllable name, even doing so in front of the show's presenter Davina McCall once being evicted, without being questioned for being blatantly disrespectful at best and racist at worst, the real outcry only began once it was learned that Jade's boyfriend Jack had allegedly referred to Shetty incorrectly as a "Paki". Channel 4 has since disputed this, claiming that he instead called her a "cunt", but it has not produced the unedited recording to prove this conclusively. Reports on the television have overlooked it, mainly because it would mean having to either bleep their own reporter's use of the word cunt, not to mention the connotations of even repeating a racial slur, but it was this that was behind the original outrage and has continued to drive it ever since.

Unfortunately for Channel 4 and the producers of the show Endemol, if not for their bank balances and the ratings, the bullying has only gotten worse. Some of the nastiest behaviour has not been to her face, such as Danielle and Jo's ignorance regarding her cooking, or Danielle saying to Jade that Shetty ought to "fuck off home", but Jade last night hilariously and astonishingly hypocritically told Shilpa that she needed "elocution lessons". Shilpa, upset, said for the first time that she thought their behaviour towards her was racist, but has apparently today retracted that in a discussion with "Big Brother" in the enclosed diary room.

The reaction to all of this has been amazingly over-the-top. The majority complaining appear not to be regular watchers or fans of the show, as surely they would be aware that confrontation, hatred and casual bullying is what the show is almost entirely about, when it isn't being a popularity contest at least. The only difference is that the bullying has at best had cultural ignorance and jealousy underpinning it, with racial prejudice being involved at worst. While prejudice has occurred in the show before, as pointed out by Omar Waraich on CiF, it hasn't approached the levels seen in the current series. While complaints about what has been going on should have been expected, for it to cause an apparent "international incident" says more about our celebrity-centred times than it does about British society as a whole.

For this is what this is - a predictable response by four or five deeply ignorant, stupid, poorly educated people to a woman who has everything that they do not and from which none of them can escape from without either the permission of those running the programme or those watching it, at least not without mentally wounding themselves by giving up and throwing in the towel. Danielle Lloyd, a young woman who appears to be even less intelligent than Jade, which makes you wonder how her brain manages to keep telling her heart to beat, seemed to find her behaviour when confronted in the diary room about it humourous and could only answer why she had felt that Shilpa should "fuck off home" with "I don't know", delivered in her noxious sub-Lily Allen twang.

Their behaviour is not obviously racist; they are simply drawing on anything that can be used to beat her with. It appears racist, but whether they are deliberately intending it to be is much harder to prove. This is why calls for it to be taken off the air are so laughable and intellectually flawed: absolutely no one is going to become a racist, or use similar language towards those they meet in their real lives through watching this tripe. All it does is prove that so-called celebrities can be just as flawed, if not much more so, than the average person. It also underlines, as Sunny Hurndal argues, what unacceptable and acceptable behaviour in modern day Britain is. The outcry sets to the sword the lie that political correctness is being forced on the country from on high. Rather, such labels are being shown up for what they are: the reaction of those who can't stand the fact that Britain is changing and already has changed comprehensively.

The greatly amusing thing is the response of some of the tabloids. The Express, the same newspaper which day after day bemoans foreigners, migrants and the death of a woman who died a decade ago, suddenly seems to think that 5 inarticulate people have shamed the country. On the contrary, it's the sensationalist bullshit that middle-class well-educated journalists write day after day for their own politically motivated bosses that should really shame this country into action. Instead, they'd rather heap their bile on 5 people who don't know any better. That they have been utterly complicit in the rise and rise of these idiots only makes the cynical opening of their eyes to the truth even more contemptible.

The Sun's editorial line is even more shockingly hypocritical:

It is unbelievable that the comments of a few pea-brained “celebrities” can blow up into a full-blown diplomatic incident.

But that is what it has turned into and pompous Channel 4 can no longer stand by and do nothing.

In India they’re burning effigies of Big Brother bosses — and somebody could end up getting hurt.

The protests might be a huge over-reaction.

But the public is right to be appalled at the way Jade, Jack, Danielle and Jo have victimised Shilpa — who remained cool and dignified in the face of a torrent of foul-mouthed abuse.

This is not entertainment and we don’t want to see it on the telly.

No, quite right. The Sun has only been encouraging this "entertainment" since the very beginning, offering a cash prize to the first couple to have sex on-screen (as long as they weren't homosexual) and devoting pages and pages day after day to the brainless, vacuous morons who have occupied the house. The show was also featured at least 13 times on the front page of the Scum last year.

The die though has now been cast. Jade is almost certainly going to be evicted tomorrow, with the others who have attacked Shilpa likely to follow after her. As always, we should let the others who want to vote and watch the show get on with it - and continue with the unofficial boycott the show and all other reality tv deserves.

Related post (with a round-up of other posts on the same subject): Not Saussure - The burning issue of the day

Correction: It may well have been Shilpa who told Jade she needed elocution lessons. Apologies.

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