Monday, January 22, 2007

A Mite Jaded

So the “BB racism row” (as it is currently known in tabloid land) reached a climax of sorts last Friday with Jade Goodey being evicted from the house in disgrace. Hurrah!

I must admit, seeing Jade emerge to a muted and silent reception and then face quite an uncomfortable and unforgiving interview by Davina McCall (well, unforgiving by Davina’s standards) gave me quite a bit of satisfaction... at the time.

Now though, having lived with it for a few days, read the news articles about it, watched the news storm run itself ragged on the TV, my overall feeling is one of deep dissatisfaction and frustration.

My main feeling is that Jade’s biggest crime is stupidity. She is the victim of a thoroughly rough and ropey upbringing by Jackiey which has left her completely ill-equipped to deal with ordinary people in the ordinary world let alone “celebrities” and the celebrity world. You want evidence? Her comments about Shilpa were indisputably racist yet even after having them played back to her she was still just too stupid – genuinely so – to see that they were racist; her argument running along the lines of: look, when I was stabbing Shilpa with the knife I didn’t actually mean it in a stabbing kind of way I was just being nasty... Oh. Well that makes it alright then. Dopey effing cow.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t about to turn into a defence of Jade. Far from it. She, Jo and Danielle are nasty, vicious, vacuous bullies. Certainly they are all guilty of exhibiting offensive, racist behaviour towards Shilpa but I can’t help feeling that they have in some way been unfairly hung out to dry by Big Brother. Isn’t the racist guilt of the nation being unjustly dumped on their doorsteps? They’ve become scapegoats just to make the rest of us feel righteous and that just isn’t right. All three certainly deserve a good telling off but do they really deserve the full mass of global derision and hatred that is currently pouring in against them (and God knows I’ve been guilty of producing some of it)?

Jade plainly can’t cope with it given the floods of tears she’s doused various interviewers with since her eviction. But while she certainly deserves to feel bad and cry some real tears of shame I don’t think she deserves to be spat at in the street or lynched or made public enemy number one. Her crime was ignorance. That can be resolved given time. The same with Jo and Danielle. I don’t like either of them but I don’t want to see them both run into the ground by baying mobs of thugs who are “enjoying the kill” a little too much for it to be healthy. It won’t solve the racism problems of this country. It’ll just make half the nation feel superior for about five minutes and then everything will just carry on as normal.

Look at it this way: does Shilpa want the lives of Jade, Jo and Danielle to be permanently ruined? Definitely not. And as she is the injured party I think the rest of us should take our lead from her.

That doesn’t mean ignoring the problems of racism and bullying that this incident has highlighted. Far from it. Let’s stop burning effigies in the street and get some positive, fruitful dialogue going please.

Lastly, I can’t help feeling that for all they didn’t put those words into the mouths of Jade, Jo and Danielle, Big brother is ultimately culpable for this whole debacle. It could have been and should have been nipped in the bud long before things got this serious. If BB is happy to step in and intervene when its own petty game rules are broken then it should have taken a more responsible attitude to the housemates generally – people who are effectively in their care – and stopped all this nastiness before it went a step too far. That would have sent out hugely positive signals to all who were watching that bullying and bigotry will not be tolerated by this society.

Instead, they did too little too late and it now appears that racism and all its ensuing fall-out is merely a branch of the entertainment industry.

That is not good.

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