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Celebration of Life, Stupidity and Ignorance

January 22, 2007

Well we are officially back from Haj. We were actually back on 5th Jan, but then I got bogged down in work and suffered from the Post-Holiday blues for a week or so. Then I somehow managed to have the ‘Haji’ cough manifest itself a week later than it should have done, and was it a serious bout, I certainly thought so. My wife defined it as ‘Man Flu’, but I still maintain I was at death’s door.

The Haji cough is something which afflicts pretty much 99% of all people who go on Haj. You have to imaging 3million people all in such close proximity to each other, colds and coughs will always spread. And of course some people are not conscious of the age old adage, “Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases”, especially as they splutter there way through their days in a climate which in theory should not cause you to have a cold.

and my return to the UK has also been heralded by a feeling of ‘I am a second class citizen’ by the popular media’s coverage of Muslim’s and their ‘problems’ and while I was away, my beloved Prime Minister identifying Muslim’s as being a bit of a problem community. And then surfaced the ‘Shilpa Shetty Affair’.

for those who may not know, and I understand that the rest of the world is not necessarily obssessed with ‘Reality’ television, Big Brother is a program which puts 10 or so people into a house with no contact with the outside world for a period of a few weeks and watches them disintegrate. And as such there is a ‘Celebrity’ version. This year, our screens were graced with people who ranged from Dirk Benedict (‘Face’ from The A-Team, and Starbuck from BattleStar Galactica-the old series), and also Jermaine Jackson (Michael’s brother) which is now a muslim living in Dubai (he is now named Muhammad Abdul Aziz), and of course Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty.

But also in amongst this glitterati of B-List stars was thrown in a bunch of ‘Celebrities’ who over the last few weeks have made comments about Shilpa Shetty which have thrown into sharp relief the racial/cultural difference which are still apparent in the UK of 2007.

My concerns obviously lie with the apparently racist comments made, but more worrying I think is that we in Britain have decided to raise people up to the status of celebrity, i.e. to be celebrated, for qualities would normally be used for ridicule.

We glorify stupidity and ignorance (“where is East Angular?”, asked Jade Goody once, oblivious to the fact that it is East Anglia and is only a short drive from her home county of Essex and my favourite of Saddam Hussein being a boxer!).

We glorify people who are willing to take their clothes off in public (Danielle Lloyd, glamour model and Beauty Competition contestant)

And generally we are willing to make people rich on the basis of these qualities. What does this say about a society who will celebrate the existence of people who simply have no idea what is happening in the real world not because they are living privileged lives, but simply because they do not think important what happens in the world outside of their blinkered view of it.

Happy New Year Everyone!!


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  1. Paul H permalink

    well to be fair, Jade Goody has been attacked by pretty much every media outlet that I’ve seen, and I’ve not yet met anyone who tries to apologise for her behaviour. In fact, I’ve been pretty impressed with the response so far. There are always going to be racist people, what’s important is that everyone else makes it clear that it’s not acceptable. 40,000 people phoned OfCom to complain.

    I’d say that is pretty impressive and not entirely consistent with your comment “[comments] … which have thrown into sharp relief the racial/cultural difference which are still apparent in the UK of 2007”

    Seems to me that this is actually only true for the gobby one.

  2. Paul H,

    Agree to a certain degree. However I think the the cultural differences are there. South Asian communities have integrated pretty well into society, but I’m thinking along the lines of how a nation’s young people are a reflection of society. This is because they have recently passed through the education system and will demonstrate the ills of the society more clearly than anyone else. Their teachers/parents/elders did not stamp out the sort of behaviour clearly demonstrated on the show. The racism in the show was not overt racism of the National Front ilk. However it is worrying that people can rapidly descend into negative references to other people’s culture and seemingly not see it as a major problem.

    You’re right in that 40k people complained and no one has as yet said to me that ‘The Gobby One’ was right in what she said, but oh how easily she slipped into it together with the other 2 who made up the trio.

  3. Graham permalink

    The whole furore around this has been very interesting. Yes, Ms. Goody is an insipid racist, yes, she’s an idiot and yes, she might well represent the views of a part of this society. But only one part.

    The fact that the people who were drawn into this shameful episode have all come from similar backgrounds, have all clawed their way out by appealing to the baser instincts of that same part of society and all have the same blindness to what they are saying is very telling. This part of society is always the one that has “victimised” itself, whether for good reason or bad, it’s the part of society that rails against authority, the part that sees all immigrants as “stealing our jobs” (and yes, in Jade’s case that would probably include those incomers from East Angular) and the part that thinks live revolves around EastEnders, a staggering (literally) amount of alcohol, and a late night takeway.

    It all spins around the same point… the fact that this part of society sees itself as disenfranchised, sees itself under threat and flails out in an effort to make the fear go away. Although the outward manifestation is completely different I think that the response is entirely parallel to that displayed by the Irish during the 1970’s or the more fundamental aspects of british society today (for all religions). Once that cycle of fear and violence starts it’s actually very hard to break it.

    Someone might say “I’d be scared to go into an area where she lived, they might beat me up!”… in fact a lot of people might say that, myself included, white, christian, why would I be bothered? Because in that part of society success and a little education isn’t good, it isn’t a blessing or a target to be reached for, it’s badge that makes you different to them, and they’ll attack that badge.

  4. your blog is very nice !

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