Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Big Brother, Shilpa and Janet Street Porter: What is Racism?

Racism has hit the headlines this week, with diabolical journalist Janet Street Porter being arrested for apparently yelling "Hitler had the Reich Idea" at her Jewish neighbour each morning.

At the same time, OfCom logged over 13,000 complaints of racism in the Big Brother House, as Jade Goody, Jo from S Club and all the others I can't remember the names of apparently picked on elegant Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty.

If the allegations made against Janet Street Porter are true, the police will hopefully convince her to do what we've all been begging for years - shut that mouth of hers.

But the allegations of racism in the Big Brother house are slightly more concerning.

So far, the 'crimes' committed are:

1: Refusing to eat a chicken she cooked, in case it was 'undercooked.'
2: Discussing whether it was Indian or Chinese people who ate with their hands (hey, kids. They're called chopsticks.)
3: Imitating Shilpa's strong accent.

So far, I don't think any of these particular offences are worthy of being classed 'racist.' If it's okay to make fun of George Bush's accent, or even Janet Street Porter's, why is it racist to mock Shilpa merely because her skin is a different colour?

Racism isn't the issue.

Now I don't watch Big Brother. Especially not after that disgusting debarcle with punk-fraud Donny Tourette. But I have seen enough to establish that what's going on in the Big Brother house is basically just a microcosm of the Primary School Playground.

Shilpa Shetty is a tall, beautiful, elegant woman with an incredibly successful career back home in India. She strikes me as slightly aloof, perhaps with a bit of a princess complex.

Jo, Jade and the rest of the bickering little Big Brother monkeys are just upstart, common kids thrown into the spotlight thanks to Britain's obsession with the Cult of Mediocrity.

They're picking on her because they're jealous and intimidated. And as the bullying increases, so does the distance between Shilpa and her guttersnipe housemates.

The situation will only get worse. What makes it so painful is that Jade and Co. have no idea how much media exposure their playground antics are getting. In the house, they egg each other on to even more childish acts of cruelty and taunting. Out in the real world, millions of people are seeing just how common, bitter and classless these kids really are.

One Anti-Bullying Charity Jade Goody works with is apparently dropping her as a spokesperson. I'm interested to see how the rest of the world greets their favourite Celebrity Nobody when she finally emerges from the Big Brother House.

As for the rest of them?

Well, Jack Tweedy was previous only known as Jade Goody's boyfriend. Now he has the distinction of being the first man to be filmed masturbating on national television.

It's a terrible, terribly show. And the 'bullies' in the Big Brother house are terrible, terrible people. It makes for compelling viewing, though.

At least the quiet dignity of Dirk Benedict and Jermaine Jackson will cement the fondness the public have for them. And Shilpa Shetty?

She'll leave the house as poised and preened as she entered. Perhaps she might be a 'princess,' but she's easily proven that she has the class, grace and star quality that media whores like Jade Goody could only dream of.

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