New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Culture
19 January 2007

It’s time to stop these latter day freak shows

Vote with your fingers and get rid of Big Brother and its siblings once and for all

By Ben Davies

I’ve been killing a lot of Nazis this week. Every time the TV goes on I pop upstairs and lay waste to scores of them on my computer. Anything to avoid Celebrity Big Brother.

But, even with this strategy, I’ve failed to miss the hideous behaviour of Jade Goody, Jo O’Meara and Danielle Lloyd.

There’s part of me that feels we should ignore the conduct of this talentless triumvirate.

But actually that would be a mistake because what we have here is a genuine opportunity to try to stop these latter day freak shows.

CBB is based on a simple formula. Taking some of the most incredibly stupid haven’t beens and mix them up with some very moderately talented but still pretty stupid has-beens.

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The exception, of course, is Shilpa Shetty.

It’s no wonder that things have turned nasty. Elevate ignorants and ignorance is precisely what you will get to watch.

Racism is undoubtedly part of this nasty bullying. But it’s also about jealousy. Jealousy over Shilpa’s class, her looks and the fact that she is in the midst of a successful career. Something none of the others can claim.

Some trivia pundits this week have said that Goody, O’Meara and Lloyd have irretrievably damaged their careers – if being a professional D-lister is a career.

The truth is that reality TV, like manufactured pop before it, has provided a route to fame for people who have no obvious ability and no other obvious hope of financial success.

Take Goody. In 2002, a rather sad, lost individual from the most dysfunctional of families, she was offered a route out of obscurity. First she was villified and mocked: Miss Piggy and her kebab. She didn’t even win Big Brother but, for very bad reasons, managed to be memorable.

Then the PR people and agents got to work on her. She was groomed to be less coarse, her accent softened, her old clothes burnt.

Her newly acquired ‘people’ came up with a series of clever marketing opportunities and a reasonable sized fortune was acquired.

Then a few years after her first success a new opportunity arises. She goes back to Big Brother, this time a celebrity. She takes her mother and personality by-passed boyfriend with her. They, of course, want a piece of the same kind of action.

But, this time, the whole thing goes horribly pear-shaped.

She will come out expecting to be even more famous, even more successful and instead is likely to meet with vilification. She’ll not understand the rejection and, well, who knows what will happen next.

Personally I think this is a great opportunity to cull reality TV from the airwaves. If I want to see people being vile to each other, I just have to stop cycling and take the Tube into work. As for excessive drunkenness and vulgarity. Give me a break. I’m a journalist.

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