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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