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Damn Correctness, Let’s Talk Politics Please!

by Angshukanta Chakraborty
7 May 2007 • Comment (0) • Print
Posted: Celebrity Big Brother [1] | Commons

Interrogating the Britain that made and unmade Jade Goody.

When I looked up Wikipedia to ‘research’ Jade Goody [oxymoronic as it might sound] I was partly stunned by her stated ‘occupation’ on the webpage: Reality TV Contestant! Having come to UK only a few months back I was of course unaware of the fan following Goody enjoys, neither was I know that in UK, as also in USA perhaps, you could actually make your living as a TV contestant. Precisely the reason I was alarmed to the circumstances that might have contributed to the rise and fall of this once ordinary British woman.

Two things had seriously intrigued me. First among them being, is Jade really indicative of a wider Britain, a Britain that is constantly nagging its inhabitants with heavyweight words like multiculturalism, cohesion, integration and the rest? If so, then how come the Jades of Britain are not embracing such ideas? Surely, then Jade, who is famous for her amazingly ill-informed questions and declarations, is not a part of that Britain that claims to be politically correct? Surely, it’s the population of Britain comprising the Jades and the likes that the BNP finds a fertile ground for breeding more xenophobia? And, surely again, it is this section of British population that is severely dissatisfied with the parties emphasising political correctness, viz. Labour, Conservatives and the Liberal-Democrats. If we dig a bit deeper then, can we really hold Jade responsible for what she had said in the CBB house, given her ‘untutored’ background?

Secondly, what I found disturbing was the declaration of Jade as a ‘national disgrace’ by almost the whole of the British media. As a reality TV contestant Jade was subjected to a sudden unprecedented hype, money and glamour which was not only an artificial media concoction, but also as flimsy and short-lived as an air-bubble. Jade has been constantly listed amongst Britain’s top ten worst ‘celebrities.’ Yet it’s the same voyeuristic media that once had a reciprocal parasitical relationship with Jade that became her nemesis. Shall we ask of a media then, what kind of a political correctness it is talking about? Is it only on camera, is it that superficial? When David Blunkett claimed on BBC Radio Asian Network that he thought it was a ‘breakdown of decency,’ something he would expect in a Saturday night pub [of course he meant the cheap ones where the British white and non-white working class throng and have indecent brawls after heavy drinking], I, who was simply absorbing all the hullabaloo at my university lecture hall, was terribly offended. What class-bias! Mr. Blunkett, here’s an open question to you. What do you mean by decency? Is it only a prerogative of the upper class men and women with whom you ‘get along’ and do the business of being ‘politically correct’ before the hungry cameras? What ‘decency’ are you talking about, given the rising unemployment and termination of quality education amongst the British working class? Aren’t we passé an age which considered decency as a matter of self-imposed or domestically bred morality? How can the British working class be content with your flimsy decency when it’s being continuously neglected by the major political parties in Britain? If Goody was racist, which she clearly was, how was she to make a difference between what was racist and what was not? Had she been taught at school the origin of racism in the imperial Britain’s colonial past? Does Jade even know the word colonialism? Does your curriculum at the school level talk about it at length, or does it figure as an inconspicuous little footnote at the end of a long chapter on British glory and empire?

Then, should we hold Channel Four completely responsible for letting this happen, as does Trevor Phillips? Or as Sonia Deol of BBC Radio Asian Network opines, we should actually be grateful to C4 for bringing the national debate out in the open having become a ‘diplomatic nightmare’? Where are we to locate the prejudices both inside and outside of Britain? Shall we take Shilpa as more of an ‘organic celebrity’ who has been around long enough to deal with the harshness of the media glare, its rapid turning the tables on Jade, its making and unmaking of the so-called ‘celebrities’? What ‘clash of cultures’ were the C4 people talking about? Clearly, as we have ourselves seen, Shilpa wasn’t the incomprehensible alien here; she was rather the fluid global citizen who’s at ease in most civilised places in the world, notwithstanding her eating with hands. Perhaps we ought to ask what had made Jade the alien in her own country? Why wasn’t Jade made aware of the changing relations with the world at large? So, perhaps, we need to realise that it’s the infrastructural weakness in Britain after all, that needs to be ashamed, so as not to make an ‘escape goat’ [in Jade's own lingo] of the erstwhile instant celebrity who was mercilessly gotten rid of when she didn’t suit the purpose.

Contributor biog pending
All posts by: Angshukanta Chakraborty | Email | Website

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