Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Celebrity Big Brother

Well in for a penny, in for a pound. Everyone seems to be talking about this today, so I may as well put my two penn'orth in.

I don't usually watch BB, because while I thought the first series was genuinely groundbreaking tv, over the last seven years it appears to me to have become either more and more debauched (I can remember turning on once to watching girls mudwrestling - even Ben Elton's very funny piss take of BB in Dead Famous never imagined anything quite so revolting), or nastier all in the name of "entertainment" and pulling in the ratings. Let's be clear here, we are not seeing what actually happens in the house, we see what the programme makers want us to see. Half the time when you watch it live you can't hear what people say, presumably for the editors to play around/make the contestants appear to be acting in a certain way. Personally, I think it's bread and circus tv, and I wouldn't normally bother with it.

However, I have been watching this series on and off because I am about to start my next novel which doesn't feature reality tv as such, but is going to (I hope) cock a snook at the mad celebrity obsessed world which we seem to inhabit. Ever felt you've walked through the Looking Glass? Me too.

Without giving too many details away I do have a zedlebrity character (that is such a great word!) whose name will begin with J (but she's not called Jade) who is going to drag my hero into an insane world he never wanted to enter.

To start with CBB seemed ok really. I was astonished to see Ken Russell there, and it was very funny seeing how none of the younger ones knew who he was. Mind you, I don't know who half the other contestants are either, but then I don't read Heat mag (except for research purposes). I thought the guy who did a bunk when he found out Jade Goody was coming was hilarious (but was that not completely set up? He just happened to find a foothold, and when he was up over the wall there seemed to be a convenient gantry to walk down. How handy).

In the main to begin with I thought people seemed actually quite nice to each other. I was surprised and found it quite refreshing when the contestants seemed genuinely upset that they were split up into the servants' quarters and the posh bit. Though it was very post modern to have Jade Goody's family with servants.

Jade at the point also surprised me. She too seemed upset about the way the house had been divided, and she also came down hard (quite rightly in my view) on her appalling mother who refused to pronounce Shilpa's name properly.

I then lost sight of the programme for a bit, relying mainly on the internet to find the amusing news that first Ken and then Leo had pulled out. It seemed to me that CBB was heading for flop status of the highest order.

But then. Tantara, suddenly we find ourselves in the middle of a racist controversy.

Don't get me wrong, I missed the relevant episodes but the reported comments made by Jade and co are deeply offensive and unnecessary. More importantly they are plain stupid, and show Jade, Jo and Danielle up for the bigoted morons they undoubtedly are. Shilpa has come out of the whole thing in an incredibly dignified fashion, and good on her I say. I did see last night when she calmly sat in the diary room and said she wasn't bothered one bit by Jade and what hurts you makes you stronger. It was a consummate performance and good luck to her. I hope she wins now.

It does strike me though, that if Channel Four were panicking about ratings, and the success of the show, then this was a brilliant way of getting everyone talking about it. Which apparently we all are. And lest you think I'm a cynic, apparently yesterday pulled the third largest number of viewers for the series. Surprise, surprise.

I feel deeply heartened that over fourteen thousand people in this country care enough about people behaving like racist bullies that they bother to write to a tv programme to say they don't think it acceptable behaviour on our tv screens. It gives me hope that we aren't as I often think, witnessing the fall of Rome.


There are questions being asked in Parliament.

There are apparently effigies of Channel Four execs being burned in India.

Is it me, or is this just a little excessive?

I think Shilpa's family have taken exactly the right tack - they've issued a brilliantly calm and dignified email in which they express thanks that so many people in the UK have supported their daughter and that she is strong enough to withstand the bullying. I think she is too.

But it really shouldn't be happening, and Channel Four should be ashamed of themselves that they have sunk so low in their search for controversy to let it happen. Deeply ironic from a company which has always had projecting a positive image of minorities as part of its remit.

I do think it is educative though, to us as a nation. For those bigoted tiny souls out there who think Jade and co are right (and sadly I think they exist) perhaps they might compare Jade, Danielle and Jo's small minded bitchiness with the calm and dignified response from Shilpa and her family. I know who I think is more civilised.

And to leave on a positive, which I shamelessly have pinched from the Jeremy Vine show it was so good. Wouldn't it be hilarious if Jade Goody was the person who caused the demise of Big Brother.

Now that's what I would call a result....


mad muthas said...

you're so right about the rating (you cynic, you). i certainly wasn't going to watch it, but felt myself just a little bit tempted after seeing the tabloid headlines earlier.

Jane Henry said...

It is horribly addictive... I didn't think I would be interested in these nonentities, but somehow I am. How shallow I must be.

Think that Danielle wotsit is a tough tough cookie - I doubt very much she'll stay with Teddy very long. She definitely has her sights set high.

Jo I feel kind of sorry for. She was nervous as hell coming into the house and apparenty suffers from panic attacks. Her self esteem is clearly low (maybe because she was famous young and now isn't). I thought she would be too nice to get caught up with the nastiness, but clearly she isn't.

Jade is just well Jade. WYSIWYG. Still, I have to take my hat off to someone who was mad enough to think she could do a marathon on no training - and she did get eighteen miles which is pretty amazing really.

I reckon Shilpa must have a very good chance of winning now. I hope so.

Interestingly the older members of the house as far as I am aware haven't stepped in - though Cleo was looking after Jo when she had a panic attack.

And no one appears to be being racist towards Jermaine who is so spaced out you do wonder if he is on the same planet as the rest of them. I wonder where he thinks he is...

Oh dear. I know far too much about it!

I have to fess up, but unfortunately missed yours yesterday as was finishing off my rewrites. Will try and catch you next week!