Thursday, January 18, 2007

Bigot Brother

For that's what the media in India are calling Celebrity Big Brother, after Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty, (pictured, right) faced off with Jade Goody and the goons (2bit pop star, Jo O'Meara, and WAG, Danielle Lloyd). The only excuse for not knowing anything about the race row caused by Celebrity Big Brother is that you're stuck on Mars without internet, radio or tv signal. More than 20,000 complaints have been lodged with Channel 4 and Ofcom, most newspapers lead on it today, the issue was raised at Prime Minister's Questions, effigies of Channel 4 producers were burnt in India (quite how they know what C4 execs look like, I don't know), Gordon Brown has had his economic growth trip to India overshadowed by questions about Jade Goody's exemplary manners. It's been extraordinary.

I was always reluctant to get into this debate for the simple reason that charges of racism are difficult to prove. There's a very thin line between outright rudeness, hatred and racism; but quite often they are two sides to the same coin. It never seems as if feeling racially victimised is enough to cry racism, I tend to need something overt. "Black bastard", "nig-nog", these are blatantly racist, and you'd be applauded for headbutting anyone who addressed you in those terms. But we live in different times where that kind of racism isn't acceptable anymore.

Basically, the feelings of racism remain, but the methods of expressing the racist feelings change. Instead of "black bastard", you just say "bitch", with the same vitriol and intention of wanting to say "black bastard". Like I said, I wasn't sure what to make of it, whether it was racism. However watch the footage or read the transcript, and you're left in little doubt that racism is indeed an element.

Do you know what many people are saying? That what's happening in the Big Brother House just shows Britain what we've always known - that racism is alive and well in Britain. The subplot, though, is probably a class thing. Germaine Greer tried to make that point in the Guardian earlier this week. Class is definitely still an issue in Britain, throw in race into the mix, and you have a powder keg ready to go off.

Something worse than Jade Goody's braying, however, is the reaction of C4's chairman, Luke Johnson. Listen to him being questioned on the Today programme.


Anonymous said...

Once again a very well written article.

Dami said...

hmm nice
whats happening in the big brother is definitely whats happening in the whole of the u.k. i dont watch the show but initially iwas reading somewhere that its "bullying" then later " bullying as a result of culture" then racist bullying". they tried everything they could to avoid calling it racist and eventually jade n co couldnt stop themselves.

on the other hand i think the girls are just threatened by the prim and proper girl who speak better and def looks much prettier. when u live in bermondsey you cant really lose the racist tendency.

later they'll wonder why those muslim women cant be bothered to integrate in their "very tolerant n acommodating" society

Moody Crab said...

Racism is Alive and Well in the UK (I'm writting an article on it). I've experienced it in uni, by the bus stop, in the tube e.t.c

There is this girl on my floor this semester, very angry grl if I might add. What is her reason for being so angry? Well she said (and I quote): I don't like it when all these blacks and asians come from their less developed fucked up country to use OUR educational system?

I mean WTF?? The bitch is in skool cos of the bloody £9,000 (many more international students) I pay as school fees!

The BB issue is just am ebodiment of how racism is prevalent in today's UK.

I'm sorry but the BB saga smacks of PURE RACISM!

Zaynnah Magazine said...

The whole thing is so annoying! And C4 bosses saying that Shilpa herself doesn't view the comments as racist is a big joke! Shilpa is unaware of most of the nasty comments that have been said behind her back!

The fact that the likes of Danielle ?, who is a disgraced beauty contest cheat, Jo O'Meara, and Jade Goody, are even classed as 'celebrities' is a joke in itself. Clearly, the word 'celebrity' has a different meaning in today's Britain.

Anonymous said...

The racist slant to this matter takes away from the fact that offenders are ill-educated buffoons ignorant of how to relate to other cultures or what happens in other cultures.

The comment that she can not speak English proper is a bit rich - the sentence is so trailer trash - coming from a set of people who I would not deign to give any of my time.

The additional comment about eating with her hands just supports what I said at first, how would you eat pompadums or nan bread with cutlery?

Then racism is sometimes more about how one reacts to it than what is meted out, where I have suffered racist abuse, it has offered me the opportunity to educate and inform, something I should write about soon.

In the end, I am no fan of Big Brother and like I said in another comment, if you club with the reprehensible you will find yourself in the indefensible.

Warphone Carehouse has withdrawn sponsorship of the programme, beyond which, I do not think those rotten girls are representative of us the English.

Monef said...

There is a lot of truth to Akin's comment. I am however pleased by the media coverage and public reaction,as well as the action taken by Carphone Warehouse and various parties with whom Ms Goddy and Ms Llyod had endorsements, because when Michael Richards came out with blantant unmistakable racist comments here in the US a few months back we were afforded no such reaction.

Wordsbody said...

The thrust of Germaine Greer's argument, though, was that Shilpa brought it all on herself and this whole furore was a publicity stunt pulled by the Bollywood actress. I guess then that Shilpa is psychic, to have known just how the wider world would react (she 'read' it all perfectly before being shut off in the house). I suppose too, that she then hypnotised Jade, Danielle and Jo into atrocious behaviour and offensive remarks. Really?!

Honestly, Greer's contribution is one that ought to be dismissed. It made no sense whatsoever. The best ripost to Greer came from Caitlin Moran on last night's Big Brother's Little Brother (BBLB). Moran wrote a more reasoned and I must say, balanced, opinion on the Shilpa row in yesterday's Times. Asked on TV about Greer's piece, Moran said Greer was "nuts" - reminding that when Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray, Greer had written that the animal kingdom had gotten its revenge. So there you have it.

I have so much swirling in my head about the Celebrity Big Brother debacle, it's going to take me a while to process it all, let alone articulate it.

I have since last night voted by text more than 10 times to get Jade out. I am consoled by news that the 'killing' Channel 4 will make in phone vote profits today (anything up to £4m) will now be donated to charity, and this they only commited to under pressure.

This edition of Big Brother has shown me though, what an absolutely wonderful human being Jermaine Jackson is.

And the grace under pressure of the beautiful Shilpa Shetty has been astonishing to watch. She didn't bring it on herself; no one deserved this. Greer was wrong.

Talatu-Carmen said...

I agree with April, what the hell is an international star like Shilpa Shetty doing in a house with all these minor British semi-celebrities, anyway?

Anonymous said...

indians are bigots so theyshould shut up.

Anonymous said...

The 9th comment by 'em' is inappropriate and unacceptable. The blog administrator has a duty to delete it.

Anonymous said...

So the English are anxious to show the world that these 3 'ignorant' women are not representative of the English society in general? But then surely everyone should know that - is the same attitude therefore attached to the comparatively few black people who are involved in crime in the UK? Do the same English people think of them as the few ignorant and uneducated people in a sea of educated black people? Or do they attribute the bad deeds of those few to all members of their race? These are questions that remain unanswered.

Anonymous said...

Racism is alive and well anywhere.You are bound to meet ignorant people who are not interested in understanding your culture or way of life.Such people will stick to their stereotypical ideas without first-hand experience of any other cultures. Unfortunately,its a disease that cant be cured. There will never be a definate answer on whether jade is racist or not bcos every1 has a different definition of racism.
Is jade ignorant? yes
Is she racist? I dont think so.
Should she have been more sensitive to shipla's feelings? Yes, but that respect should be had for everyone irrespective of race, culture, nationality or woteva

Anonymous said...

please it's racism. you won't believe the evil eye i get from the white cashiers at my local supermarket. it irks them that i'm doing better than them, and yet when a rich white woman comes up behind me it's all smiles and ps and qs.

Nkem said...

I still don't censor, so I won't delete Em's comments. Em, so you've met all more than one billion Indians, and they've all been bigots?

Anonymous said...

Nkem, to think you actually thought Em would answer you! Ignoring the fact that the onus is on you to remove possibly offensive remarks from a blog for which you are responsible because not doing so can be seen as condoning the comments. A bit like Big Brother where critics have accused Channel 4 of seeming to promote racism by not intervening and by broadcasting. You don't censor. Good for you. Count yourself lucky that you don't get cyber stalkers who leave abusive comments on people's blogs. Many have been forced to moderate comments because of such nasty people.