OK, I don’t exactly do Big Brother. Not in a “I’m too elite for pop culture canon” sort of way; though I once told my mother that “I do not engage with popular culture” when she asked if I had seen something on TV, and her reply was uncharacteristically unprintable. My mother does not swear, so I learned my lesson – even if you don’t intend to be a pretentious f*ckwit, and are pretty sure you are not, it is best not to give the appearance of being one.
Anyway it’s my middle class friends (unlike working class heroes like me 😉 ) who actually watch BB- either with genuine pleasure, or with fashionable ironic something-or-other that I’m just too thick and proletarian to get. Still I understand that is where Miss Goody made her mark. I knew nothing about her, till her infamous remark about “East Angular being In North Africa” reached even those of us who are too absorbed in the 13th century to pay much attention to the 21st — well those of us from Suffolk at least. (Bits of Suffolk, mainly the farming communities, are probably more feudal now than the thirteenth century ever managed*…)
Not of the Brightest
So she was badly educated, and not so bright, a bit like that American lady , a singer or some such, who thought Chicken of the Sea Tuna might be Chicken. So what? I might make the same mistake, and I have plenty of education, and can think. I still sometimes wonder if County Durham might be in Northern Ireland (of course I know it’s not) and I frequently make tragic mistakes while shopping that make Miss Jessica Simpson, for such I think it was, chicken/tuna quandary look quite sane. Supermarkets are another country: they do things differently there.
Then I heard from Beast, and he likes Jade Goody. What does the mighty browed Mekon, the most academic thing ever to walk across humanities, social sciences, engineering and natural sciences, probably the most intelligent thing on the planet today, see in Miss Goody, sorry, Mrs Tweed as she now is? (Sincere congratulations!) No idea, but he likes her, and thinks she is pleasant and was annoyed by the criticism of her. There is nothing “fashionably ironic” about beast. Fashion and Beast are not just separated: the divorce was the trial of the century. He is to cool what Hell is, and I mean in the usually prevailing climate, not when it’s frozen over. That is what makes Beast so awesome.
What’s so wrong with Living TV, hey?
And I saw his point: here was a woman not unlike the guys I grew up with, indeed not unlike some of my friends now. Sure she worked on a lot of Living TV shows – er I’ve appeared on a couple myself, and have a great deal of respect for Living TV. Back in the days when it was run by Richard Woolfe and Jane Millichip it was a great place, filled with ideas and energy, a sort of televisual Woman’s Realm. I miss those days… Anyway, Jade is OK. One does not have to be Archimedes to have a kind heart, and what is this gnosticism that denies value to the simply thick? Why do you have to be bright to be worthy? What a stupid idea! I’m pretty bright I think and I can be an utter tosser. In what way should moral worth be equated with intellectual achievement? Are we really trying to outdo the Americans is sheer inanity here, with their curious notion that dollars make you worthy, and we in the UK are just substituting academic ability, or how articulate you are, or the ability to do crossword puzzles, for this? That’s obscene – completely obscene. I don’t care fi your IQ is 40, so long as you are pleasant, kind, loving and thoughtful. I might well prefer you!
Now it might be that Jade’s crime is to be working class, in a post-Thatcher “classless” Britain where 95% seem to see themselves as middle class. I call myself working class and my friends laugh – they point out I’m underclass, as the one thing I seem to rarely do is actually work. Yet there is no crime in being working class as far as I know, and the people who seem to be the most vicious towards “chavs” are those who only in this generation have escaped that sort of background. I don’t think anyone would call me a chav, but I’m definitely working class. Maybe “chav” really was a huge experiment in psychohistory, and Jade was manufactured to enforce the “do not be this” message — I have often suggested as much. In a society which prides itself on egalitarianism and having finally dismantled class prejudice that would have kept Jade hidden from us in even recent decades – a form of segregation in broadcasting every bit as prevalent and vile as that practiced in the USA in the same period, that is well in to the 1950’s – Jade still had the power to offend. Why? We are still unconscious racists snobs?
Am I racist?
Then came the racism thing – Celebrity Big Brother. Amusingly I managed to offend a lot of people myself, when I said Jade was a bully, not a racist. I may well have been wrong, I did not watch the footage, but Shilpa Shetty and her were both of the same race surely? How could this be racism? Both are Caucasians, as am I – Shilpa from India, Jade from the UK – and part-Indian. There is a difference in skin tone, and that is all. Shilpa is of the same race as probably most of the readers of this blog, in as far as race has any meaning.
Mind you, I still get in to trouble for refusing to call myself “white”, instead preferring “pinkish grey”. I see very few white people on the streets as it happens, though there are a few.Most people range from pinkish to copper to chestnut to a few who really are black. Maybe we should base peoples race on Dulux colour charts, if skintone is all that counts? Anyway, Jade was culturally ignorant, bullying and dumb. She was not as far as I can make out racist.
Slaughtering teenagers endorsed
Next time I heard of her was when her boyfriend set about a teenager with a golf club. I know nothing of the rights and wrongs of that incident, and shall say no more – the courts decided I believe, passing verdict on the fellow. “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”; when it comes to maiming teenagers I refuse to be hypocritical, but I suspect that if my opinions were widely adopted the bridges of most cities would have a lot of pikes with gobby brats heads, which would be a lot more useful and some might argue decorative than Britain in Bloom.
This is so not funny
So, then the tragedy. Jade find out, on TV, she has cancer. And now she is dying. And people makes jokes about it, and seem to think somehow being famous make sit all so deserved. We all hate some celebrities, and wish they would die I suspect – and indeed often say so – but when they do, should we not reconsider, just for a moment? This is an appalling tragedy. All over Britain, women are ill with this disease. 2,700 a year. Now we have a great screening programme, and a new vaccine which will reduce it – but Jade’s plight is that of many others. And no, Jade is no more important or worthy or tragic than any one of them – but she is no less so either. She is rich and famous – but she is also I guess scared, unhappy and hurting. And I feel for her, I really do. She is too stupid, too fun filled, too happy, to die. A lot of people are. They lose their kids, their boyfriends, their folks, and pass in to the unknown. Jade should not die – no one should die, not at that age. (Unless gobby teenagers, obviously…)
So I’ll pray for Jade, that she should recover, that she should get better, and that if not, that her final moments she be joyous, and that she should pass in to a happy hereafter peacefully. But Jade, get better. I’m sick of people moping and mocking – I don’t know if it will help or not, if prayer can work, but it costs nothing, and if it might help, well why not try it? There is no point condemning, analyzing, or berating: the comedy has turned tragedy upon us, and I really think in all decency all there is left is for us all to pray for Jade…
* I shall rant on this sometime. It will not be pretty.
Thanks for posting these wise and sensitive words about Jade Goody’s illness and her wedding. I was a fan of Jade Goody simply because she was cute and bubbly on the very few shows I saw her on. I never watched Big Brother , which is perhaps just as well, but on the other programmes on which she turned up she seemed good-looking, pleasant and with a very reasonable, matter of fact perspective on her fame. There isn’t anything deeper to it than that. She wasn’t a brilliant intellectual, but then, she never claimed to be, and I always understood that the gaps in her knowledge were due to her having spent an awful lot of her time out of school when she was young looking after her mother. Clearly those aren’t the circumstances that are going to help someone get the most out of their education. Nevertheless, she was obviously entirely right to try and support and look after her mother in her illness, despite the damage this did to her educationally. It’s very sad indeed that she’s been struck down with this terrible cancer. I wish her, her new husband and her children all the best in her new life as Mrs. Tweed, and to everyone else suffering from a life-threatening illness. May she and they enjoy their lives to the full, and have every happiness, and I hope they get better,
i simply want too say jade u dont deserve this nobody does your a young mom in the prime of her life reguardless of status your simply human like the rest of us darling and my thoughts are with u hubby and your boys at this most terrifying time for u all but when the time comes darlin just lay back have nice peaceful thoughts and know u lived life best u could given the time and u contributed too this life plus u gave your boys a life which im sure there going to relish just as u tried too darling thoughts love hugs jane just someone in the wond who happens to think your one of lifes treasures xxx