Sunday, 22 February 2009

Jade Goody Killed by the Big Brother that made her

I feel very sorry for Jade Goody. Dying from cancer at a pitifully early age and in the public eye is not a fate I’d wish on any hapless entertainer. There's clear class conflict going on here with a lucky member of the "underclass" (tabloidese for bottom of the working class) made famous, given riches, then chewed up and spat out, for our edification. Let this be a lesson for aspiring chavs: don’t get above yourselves.

The idiot agent who encouraged her to return to the Big Brother house, like Ayesha walking back into the flames that gave her immortality in She, has as good as killed her.

For some, being “fick” is schtick; for Jade and her tribe, it’s the way they are, testimony to our fabulous class-free education system. Without friendly editors on the job, Jade was doomed. Come in number Epsilon, your fifteen minutes is up.

Yes, we know it was wrong for Jade and her undereducated family to unleash race-fuelled spite at Shilpa Shetty as the pressure on the reality show ratcheted up. And it was a joy to see Britons condemning her for her bullying. But she wasn’t Bernard Manning or Richard Littlejohn, and this wasn’t a capital offence. Such was the shock of the whole entertainment machine turning on this stupid but normally amiable woman, with a viciousness usually reserved for murderers and rapists, that it probably triggered her fatal illness.

We knew she was fick. Why were we surprised when she acted fick? She was no-where as sharp as fellow housemate Carole Malone who, channeling the spirit of Iago, began to poison the atmosphere against Shilpa when Malone was up for eviction. Accordingly, Malone’s acolyte, the dumb WAG whose name thankfully escapes me, diverted her hurt at the imminent loss of Queen Bee and mother figure on to the named party. Jade tried to offer solidarity and comfort to her mate using the only way they knew how: target the person who’s most different, with a lot more style, better-looking, and looking hot to win, define her as Other and keep snapping away at her like a pack of yappy dogs around a hobbled panther. Meanwhile, the smarter women on the show slipped the shiv into Shilpa far more deftly while other housemates bravely turned a blind eye. (Before we get all complacent, this was the same dynamic I saw at work in the left and in the SWP in particular.)

The sad thing is that, unlike more cynical performers who’ve had to seek redemption through charitable works, Jade took the subsequent onslaught to heart. Shilpa was impressive and offered a hand of kindness that was allowing Jade to learn. Having had all her windows smashed, her income drying up, finding herself suddenly a national object of shame and hate, Jade tried to learn by going to India and overcoming her fear of “abroad”. She didn’t do too well, what with her colossal cargo of ignorance sabotaging every move she made, but in her oafish way she was trying.

So now it’s terminal and she’s trying to gather as much dosh as possible in a world that runs on money for those she leaves behind. Who can blame her? With a world-wide depression with no end staring us in the face, would you turn it down if your death might save your family? Look at the role models she’s had in her short life, the example set by that dignity and decorum-free zone, two of the greediest bastards ever to occupy Number Ten Downing Street, f’rinstance. But, no, let’s not get angry with the educated posh men and women making money from a war they started and who presided over the looting of Britain. Let’s get the funny stupid slag who showed us her kebab and enjoy the snuff-fest.

Jade Goody is the distillation of everything this society admires: the worship of money and fame. That is a cancer in itself. There is something horrific and yet fitting about her end: death as entertainment. It is sad that she was wafted in on a circus and now exits the same way, but I can’t condemn the poor girl at the centre of it. She’s never had power over her miserable life and now she’s losing it. The lesson I draw is that we need to have a complete shift in our values, and build something better where no-one has to prostitute themselves in any capacity.

For another perspective, see Hagley Road.

Item picked up by France 24 The Observers


Mrs. M. said...

honestly i feel very conflicted when i see all the stories about her illness accompanied by all the many, many, many pictures of her in a wheelchair. on the one hand, like you said, I see where she is coming from. Trying to cash in as much as she possibly can in order to provide a better life for her children after she is gone.
on the other hand, the morbid fascination with it all-watching not a dying celebrity but a dying woman being paraded around repeatedly to remind us that yes, she is still dying is sort of...sick. and tacky. and while yes, it is of course very sad that she is terminal at such a young age, there are millions of other women dying for the same/similar reasons all across the world. And i hope that she can serve as a reminder to that rather than just being some sort of new toy for the press that they can use until there's a new one to be played with.

Madam Miaow said...

Hi Mrs M,

I am actually amazed that Americans know about this. So she was an even bigger celeb phenomenon than I realised.

It's a difficult one because we see things that are precious to us and valued above mere money — marriage, death, children — paraded before us in a money-making operation. It's definitely sick and tacky. But I can't feel anger for her when the whole system is so skewed. It's just so sad.

Apparently cervical smear tests have gone up 20% since her illness was announced. But the government recently raised the age of testing from 20 to 25 to save money, meaning some women are now dying who would have been caught under the old rules. Now that's what I call sick.

splinteredsunrise said...

Oh, that Carole Malone is a bad sort. Her career as a columnist has really been based on doing over other women. What I especially remember was her columnar stalking of Abi Titmuss, hardly letting a week go by without calling a woman "fat" who was not only half her age but half her size. This went on for months till it got really creepy.

Trying to avoid reading your BSG reviews... still can't watch it...

Madam Miaow said...

Only four more episodes and then a TV film and it's all over, Splinty. (Last episode is a two-hour special.)

harpymarx said...

I too find this issue difficult to get my head around and find it unnerving. It's voyeuristic and involves the commodification of death.

I was hoping that somewhere along the lines Max Clifford et al would be raising general issues about cancer and preventative medicine esp. around cervical smears, increasing awareness and raising consciousness but I haven't seen anything..maybe I just missed it.

Madam Miaow said...

Hi Louise,

Commentators have picked up on this, not to mention women whose numbers taking the pap tests have increased by 20 percent.

As I wrote in my earlier comment above, this hasn't been helped by the government raising the screening age to save money.

harpymarx said...

Yes, indeed, I read a couple of articles recently about women who were told they were too old for a cervical smear (one was 25 and sexually active!)Both developed cancer. I was 19 when I had my first smear and my doc was adamant I should have one (that was in 1989). So it is utterly shocking that the government is playing russian roulette with womens' lives.

And opinion is also divided about whether women should have a smear every 3 or 5 years.

DAVE BONES said...

Nice one. lets do it.


So the vile Piers Morgan is going to do a F I N A L (!!!) interview with Jade.

PM - So, Jade wotcha been up to today?

JADE - Well, pm, I stayed in bed dying a bit.

PM - Whatya gonna to do tomorrow Jade?

JADE - Stay in bed and die a bit more, perhaps. Then I have an audition with the Big Heaven House. I shall be good, I always am. The loser with the least votes goes to the OTHER place.

Mrs. M. said...

well at least something good has come out of it (cervical cancer awareness).
but sadly JG has really only become popular over here because of her illness. In other words, the sicker she gets, the more popular she becomes. On one hand i think if you can portray a sort of "you don't have to be afraid" attitude about death it can be inspirational. On the other hand it's like Jesus! Let the woman have 5 seconds to herself without capturing every one of her "last moments".