Thursday, January 18, 2007

Bigot Brother

The producers of Celebrity Big Brother (Channel Four and Endemol) must be secretly delighted with the latest scandal, in which Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty is apparently being bullied by three white working class females. [BBC News, Shetty Profile]

"Is this racism or class warfare? You decide. Viewers can phone a premium rate number to express their preference for multiracial tolerance."

As if. As if "Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells" would want to put more money into Endemol's coffers. David Cameron has advised right-minded people to switch off instead [BBC News]. (In the past such advice from a Conservative Party leader would have doubled viewing figures, but those days are long gone.)

Update: Apparently the phone-in profits have been given to charity. So that's all right then.

The rest of the media are enjoying the scandal as well, discussing the offensive behaviour at great length. In yesterday's Times, columnist Carol Midgley wrote some sensible things ("Far from 'not tolerating' bullying, the brains at Endemol have deliberately caused it. And it is not just Shetty who is the victim.") but then spoiled her article by using an offensive racial term to describe one of the contestants. (I am shocked that the Times subeditors permitted this term.)
Carol Midgley Pedigree v pit bull: Big Brother's cynical face (Times, January 17th, 2007)

Today's Times reminds us that "what we see on Big Brother is only one of many possible stories" - in other words, so-called "reality" is selective and ultimately subjective. According to Burhan Wazir, the scenes selected for broadcast by Endemol will have done no harm to Shetty's career, but have probably destroyed the careers of the three Z-list celebrities portrayed as having bullied Shetty.
Burhan Wazir, They're in big bother (Times, January 18th, 2007)

Above all one Jade Goody, a previous winner of Big Brother. Endemol executives must be thinking of the immortal lines of Eminem: "We created a monster, now everyone wants ter see Jade Goody evicted ..."

One of Shetty's first starring roles was in a film called Main Khiladi Tu Anhari (1994) [Review by Philip Lutgendorf]. I understand this is the Hindi for something like "I'm good-looking and successful, and you are an ignorant slob." Quite so.

Wikipedia: Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells
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