Yes, yes, I deplore reality TV in all its forms, and I know there are probably more important things going on in the world right now (China’s entry into the space arms race being one of them). But as the whole blogocube and all the daily papers are talking about it, the Celebrity Big Brother racism controversy is stuck in the public consciousness as an uncomfortable reminder, not only of the underlying racism and prejudice in modern-day Britain, but also the adulation and celebrity status we reserve for complete halfwits. As the rather excellent (and newly-discovered) Obsolete puts it, a lot of the abuse may stem from the fact that Shilpa has more good looks, talent and genuine celebrity than her female antogonists.
The whole thing sits very uncomfortably with me, because while I don’t think the comments by Jade et al have much to do with old-fashioned Alf Garnett racism, they are a logical outcome of ignorance and a complete lack of interest in the wider world and other cultures.
Over the past few years, I have never forgotten how lucky I am to have been able to meet people from so many different countries and cultures. I’d be a completely different person, but for a few chance occurences. As the person I am now, I look at the picture of modern Britain this show is presenting and feel … well, very uncomfortable. However, most of the people I know and see on a daily basis are very open-minded and friendly towards people who come from a different background, country or culture to them. And the masses of complaints that Channel 4 has recieved show that people are less willing to put up with intolerance and abuse than might have been assumed.
I honestly hope that the moves towards an atavistic, tribal politics that I’ve written about before comes up against this wellspring of public opinion. Then again, if people paid more attention to politics than to amazingly stupid people raised to the level of public figurehead by the simple application of media power (insert comparison joke here), the country probably wouldn’t be in such a state.