Monday, 22 January 2007

Oh Brother!

I have only ever seen a few hours of a couple of series Big Brother and have never seen the 'celebrity version'. I stopped watching it after being very unimpressed. I just couldn't enjoy the endless cycle of watching people sleep, wake up, make porridge and sit in chairs for hours. Some people do, but I don't. Some of the most recent series I didn't even realise were on until they were several days (or weeks) old. Even when I did find out I couldn't be bothered.

They say it's 'reality TV', but it isn't. How many people can say their life involves being stuck in a house for several weeks with several cameras pointing at you and having to get on with people you hardly know? Also, those people are quite often from the extremes of society and that ends up creating explosive situations over minor things.

One thing I do remember from the occasional bit of Big Brother I saw (and news pieces) was Jade Goody when she started off. I couldn't believe how dense she was. However, after she left the house, she managed to make some money and moderate success from the Z-list career that she earned. She could have quite easily ended up where she was beforehand - so Jade had to have learned something.

Anyway, now she made her way onto the Z-list, she qualified for a spot on celebrity Big Brother. It was another effort to boost the ratings (which went against the original idea of the show bringing people back into the house after they had already left). Once again, this series had 'characters' who were completely different when compared to each other.

I didn't even start thinking about this series until the controversy started. I couldn't believe that Big Brother had allowed the racist abuse to be broadcast. Jade directed it towards the absolutely stunning Bollywood star, Shilpa Shetty - a fellow housemate. The show is watched by thousands (possibly millions) of people of varying ages and they were exposed to something that is truly abhorrant. The following is one of the things Jade said:
"I couldn't think of her surname. Why would I be talking to someone like that, I don't know what her surname is. What is it? Shilpa Cookamada, Shilpa whatever Rockamada, Shilpa Poppadom."
Jade apologised afterwards, also saying that her comments were "nasty and ugly". No matter how much she apologises though, the memories will still remain.

She said she made some of her comments in anger. That maybe right, but the fact is that those racist words should not have been so close to the forefront of her mind. There are plenty of other ways to express anger without being racist.

Today, the following was reported on the BBC News website:
"Channel 4 bosses have ordered a review of Big Brother following the racism row, but say that the current Celebrity edition of the show will remain on air.

Chairman Luke Johnson said that the Channel 4 board expressed profound regret for any offence that may have been caused."
It's good that a review is taking place, but will the public agree with the findings?

The Government and the NUS were two other major bodies that commented on the situation. The following is from Ruqayyah Collector, the NUS Black Students Officer:
"It is unacceptable that people should see abusive racist language openly displayed on prime-time television unchecked by broadcasters. The NUS is working on promoting unity and good race relations, with many young people across the country responding positively to our call. The racist views on display are an offense to Asian people and will do nothing to garner a climate of acceptance in Britain today. On the contrary, around the world, British culture is being perceived as bigoted, aggressive and offensive, as Endemol's cynical ploy to boost ratings and profits by allowing racially abusive language to continue unchecked in the Big Brother House."
As you can see I totally agree with her. I'm sure many other people do too.

After Jade left the house, she said her fee will be donated to charity. That's good, but it's not enough. Jade has had celebrity thrust on her too soon and she's been unable to deal with it. That's the problem with the 'fifteen minutes of fame' culture.

Another thing to note was the suspicions of 'coaching'. I hope that didn't happen or it means her apology may not be genuine and giving the money to charity could have been forced upon her. That would be a shame.

Big Brother should be axed after the end of this series, but it probably won't. Channel 4 and Endemol (the producers) will probably secretly enjoy the publicity and the short term ratings boost. Nobody should be allowed to profit from racism though. That would be disgusting.

Technorati tags: Big Brother, Racism, Television