Monday, January 29, 2007

Big Bother

Now whilst I try to avoid getting sucked into the detrius of junk TV, I have to admit to wasting a few hours watching Celebrity Big Brother over the last week. Unsurprisingly this has been prompted by the debate of the day that has exorcised the international media on what must have been a very slow news cycle.

For the uninitiated, this excuse for a social experiment locks half a dozen z-list celebrities in a house, points cameras at them 24-hours a day and sees what happens when the eponymous 'Big Brother' manipulates their environment sowing discord in the name of entertainment. Apart from only recognising the Face (only those of us watching TV in the 1980's truly remember the A-team in all its macho-glory - 'I luv it when a plan comes together' and 'I pity the fool') I didn't know any of the others.

Anyway, one day, two particular characters in this car wreck of a show, Jade Goody and Shilpa Shetty have an argument over oxo-cubes and chicken curry. Small thing to argue about you might think, but bear with me. This descends into an uncontrolled rant, a tirade of incomprehensible gibberish from Goody whose apparent claim to fame is that she was on another version of the show. In fact her most marketable characteristic apparently lay in her panache for asking stupid questions, chavette like behaviour and 'down to earth girl in the next council estate’ charm which has garnered her £8m so far! Shilpa Shetty on the other hand hails from Bollywood royalty and apart from being cultured and possessing dignity, knows how to string words together to make a coherent sentence.

So when Goody and her Goons gang up on Shetty and say things like ‘She doesn’t speak English’, ‘She should go back home’, wilfully mispronounce her name, call her ‘Popodom’, and other petty gibes, the question that Shilpa Shetty and the world ponders is ‘Is this what Britain is today?’. To be sure Goody and the Goons are bullies but are they racist? They are no doubt extremely ignorant and represent an unpalatable side of British society. But is it representative, or is it merely a class issue representing the views of the young disenfranchised underclass? These are questions that will no doubt me the subject of future media relations PhDs.

To give the benefit of the doubt to these girls, especially when Shetty herself was magnanimous in her forgiveness is probably the reasonable thing to do. To foist upon them a status as a barometer on British society is a bit harsh. Indians themselves are not immune from a bit of racism and class intolerance themselves – see the caste system for one. There’s just that nagging feeling at the back of my mind which says you don’t have to scratch too far below the surface to bring out people’s innate intolerances and prejudices.

I hope Channel 4 never do another Big Brother. Its an awful concept for a show.


Blogger individuality1977 said...

Not a big fan of these reality tv shows (does American Idol count? I admit to watching people make fools of themselves auditioning!) but I did read an article about it on the BBC. I didn't see the tirade of the goons, but from reading about it I think its just a reflection of the ignorance of many British people with a touch of a bit of racism. The way the Indian media has jumped onto the bandwagon is a bit large though, considering the rigid class and race structure of Indian society and the Indian diaspora. How many Dalits are Bollywood stars? How many Indians marry blacks?

11:41 pm  
Blogger Sleepyhead said...

I am So totally with you- except I didn't know the Face- if any good can come from this disgraceful row it would be the end of such manipulative and unethical shows. Pure ugly voyeurism and conflict engineered for public entertainment- destroying many of the participants in the process. It's boring if people get on and the stuff of gossip when someone is on the verge of a breakdown, or is being victimized. Channel 4 is completely delusional if it thinks this passes for social experiment and healthy debate- how can permit this kind of abuse- from within the house and from the outside world towards Jo, Jade et al.
People have a taste for nastiness and gossip but that doesn't mean the networks should dish us up these wannabes for us, and tabloid vultures, to feast on.

2:50 am  
Anonymous NAs said...

well written post

7:07 pm  
Blogger fudgebumpkin said...

the a team were fab. my family used to watch it religiously.

they dont make tv like they used to, thats for sure.

3:04 pm  

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