In Defense of Jade Goody

Yep, you heard me. If you are in the US, that phrase probably means nothing. If you are in the UK, India, or anywhere else, you may think it is outrageous.

Jade Goody was one of the contestants in Big Brother four years ago. Even though she ended up in fourth place, she has been the most successful all former contestants ever. Thanks to her omnipresence on chat shows, variety shows, and in magazines, her wealth is estimated at £8 million – not bad for a former dental nurse who thinks that East Anglia is a foreign country called East Angular. She was sent into the Celebrity Big Brother house as a surprise housemate, several days into the run.

But Jade is still Jade. You can take the chav out of the council estate, but you can’t take the council estate out of the chav. That is, after all, why she’s popular and why producers Endemol hired her to go into the house in CBB.

Jade wears her feelings on her shoulder and she’s almost bi-polar in her mood swings. Add copious amounts of alcohol (always a priority item on the contestants’ shopping list) and some personality conflicts (part of the key to good ratings). Endemol were betting on a marvelous fireworks display. Instead they got a diplomatic incident.

When people get into explosive situations, they pick at whatever their intellect will allow. Jade’s runs at a very basic level. The differences she could see between herself and Indian actress Shilpa Shetty were socio-economic and ethnic background. I’m sure to someone more intelligent, the differences would have been manifold and the repartee erudite, but that’s not Jade.

Other than looking down upon Shilpa’s comfortable upbringing, racist (or more accurately, ethnist) comments were all Jade had left in her arsenal. And if when in her right mind, Jade has little idea what others are saying, when out of it, she has little idea what she is saying.

That does not mean I condone what she said. Jade herself said in the post-eviction interview that she was embarrassed by what she said and did (in the video playback) and that she didn’t think it reflected who she is. I think it reflects who she is, but as she has been conditioned by the same contemporary morality and ethics as the rest of us, it’s not the person she wants to be.

Sadly, Endemol played to her weaknesses. They caused her to stumble and perhaps the millstone should be hung around their collective necks. But as they put her on the regular Big Brother in the first place and edited it so that she came out the way she did, perhaps they can be credited with her success. Now that she’s lost millions of pounds in endorsements and other deals, perhaps we can say, “Endemol giveth and Endemol taketh away, blessed be the name of. . .” Okay, maybe not that last bit.

Even though host Davina McCall and the Endemol video editors showed Jade some of the media coverage related to her racism, they didn’t show the effigies being burnt in India. At least the Indians had the good sense to burn effigies of producers rather than Jade, according to various news reports. I mean, if you are going to take to the streets in protest over the mistreatment of a film star on a television show, it’s important that focus your rioting toward the appropriate culprits.

But all the histrionics aside, India is one of the big winners in this. Anytime you can make such a fuss that the visiting British Prime Minister-in-waiting has to apologise for his whole country, you have more leverage to send more call centre jobs your way.

This was also an excuse for the India Tourism Office to place full-page ads in major British newspapers which said,

Dear Jade Goody, Once your current commitments are over, may we invite you to experience the healing nature of India. … As a beauty therapist, you may be especially interested in visiting one of the many spas where you can cleanse your stresses away, enjoy yoga in the land that invented it and experience Ayurvedic healing, which promotes positive health and natural beauty. … We look forward to welcoming you soon — yours sincerely, India Tourism Office.

And Shilpa is a big winner as well. She may win this series of CBB, but more than that, Jade has put her on the bigger entertainment map. Bollywood is big, I’m not denying that. It’s the biggest thing in the second most populous country in the world. But Hollywood is bigger. This sort of international exposure in a Western country will be worth something. Played right, it could be worth a lot. A lot more than Jade with ever earn or lose.

Jade will see the ad in one of the newspapers and probably take it personally. I mean that in a good way. She will probably visit India and any newspaper or celebrity magazine editor in his right mind will cover it. She may even become the spokesperson for Sharwood’s. I hope she does.

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4 Responses to In Defense of Jade Goody

  1. David says:

    I like the idea of Jade being the spokeswoman for Sharwwoods! Maybe she should bring out her own line of poppadoms!

  2. Steve Hayes says:

    Is this Jade an Essex girl, then?

    The first time they had Big Brother here, I watched once a week, when they voted to evict someone. But the whole concept seemed to me to be thoroughly evil — rewarding people for being nasty to other people, though i suppose it’s a glimpse of Ayn Rand heaven.

    And in that first one, the most obnoxious and nasty (and racist) contestant won, which says a lot of society’s values.

  3. Margi says:

    Hiring vulgar, tactless Jade and then pretending shock when she actually was vulgar and tactless seems to be a cheap tactic which I heartily hope backfires to the extent that the show is never screened again. I know people need to relax but why they need to relax with such mind-numbing, spiteful drivel is way beyond me.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Big Brother has no appeal for me at all.
    If it was never ever shown again, it would improve the quality of British TV no end – maybe Jade has done some good after all !!

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