Saturday, January 20, 2007

'Celebrity' Big Brother

Ok - I'll try writing this for the third time (laptop woes). For those without a UK-focus, Celebrity Big Brother has been causing a lot of controversy in the past few days, with allegations of racism prompting 40,000 complaints to Ofcom, the regulator. The Bollywood actress, Shilpa Shetty, has been called Shilpa Popadom and allegedly was called a Paki by one of the cerebrally-challenged fellow contestants, mixed-race Jade Goody. Some of the contestants refused to pronounce Shilpa's name correctly, a common annoyance faced by anyone without an English sounding name. It's all backfired on Jade - her perfume range has been pulled from the shelves, and she faces months of flack from all and sundry.

But all Jade has done is hold a mirror to the subtle yet ugly racism of many white Britons. Very few white people in the UK count non-white people as friends. Many white people take anything in a turban or with light brown skin to be a 'Paki'. Its hideously annoying to be associated by shared-nationality with this immense mono-coloured slab of ignorance. Sometimes it seems that this only is the truth: that most humans have little more than an animal consciousness, with the 'herd mentality' that goes with it. Only a tiny percentage rise above the herd instinct and ask questions..

Click here for a thoughtful/provocative article by Martin Jacques, in today's Grauniad.

And click here for a special page of news and analysis devoted to the controversy on the Times of India's website.


culturalmiscellany 4:50 pm  

Don't get me started on this issue. The ignorance of some people from the UK makes me want to disown my heritage! Unfortunately its not just the academically challenged who are racist. Covert racism is everywhere. Call me paranoid but I am very aware in my workplace how people stop listening when I begin to talk about my boyfriend. I choose to believe that it is because they don't how to engage with me as, like you said its still unusual. It could be racism, who knows but as MrO frequently reminds me if you look for the devil you'll find him everywhere. As for Jade Goody I wish she'd just keep her trap shut and save us all from her rubbish!

Anonymous,  1:42 am  

Martin Jacques is one of the smartest ever writers on race. His article hit the nail on the head, but if you read th first few comments, they almost seem as ignorant as Jade Goody herself. I despair.

She wasn't called a "Paki", thoseare just rumours, but it still leaves Jade with no excuses.

BK,  1:12 pm  

We may well scoff at Jade's ignorance, but I think I've just exposed my own ignorance. There was I chuckling at you, Jeremy, for spelling popadom incorrectly. In honour of that great bastion of incorrect spellings which you mention later on, the Private Eye's Grauniad, I thought I had better check. Well little did I know - " The Concise Oxford Dictionary (1999) lists the word at poppadom, but mentions poppadum, and popadom, as alternatives. The variant spellings which have been listed in Oxford dictionaries include papadam, papaddam, papadom, papadum, papodam, papodum, popadam, popadom, poppadam, poppadom, poppadum, poppodam, puppadum, puppodam, puppodum. However, there is nothing to say that you cannot use the unlisted spellings papodom, popadum, poppodom, poppodum, puppadam, puppadom, and puppodom. "

UK dweller,  12:24 am  

Very few white people count non-white people as friends?

Depends where you live. Something of a gross generalisation about the UK. In the inner-cities, this statement is untrue--depends who your friends are and your background! Virtually, every white person I know has an African or African-Caribbean person as a friend. I think you are believing what you read a little too much.

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