The media this month, but most especially the tabloids, have been full of the spectacle that Jade Goody made of herself on C4’s appalling Big Brother programme.
Viewers had been treated to the unedifying sight of Jade Goody and two sidekicks showering racist abuse on the beautiful Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty.
Ms Goody, confronted by a person on whom fate has heaped advantages – good looks as well as a privileged upbringing and an excellent education – of which Ms Goody, through no fault of her own, has been utterly deprived, no doubt interpreted Ms Shetty’s very presence as taunting her for her inadequacy. She responded to this quite unintended taunt by not only bullying but racist bullying to boot.
A plethora of articles in the press then condemned Ms Goody’s vile behaviour, she was voted off Big Brother by viewers and, not long after, Ms Shetty was declared the winner.
More thoughtful sections of the press have gone further than merely to heap abuse on Ms Goody. She was, after all, merely expressing the types of view that the bourgeois press and bourgeois politicians are always urging on people, with their ceaseless tirades against asylum seekers, immigrants, muslims etc.
It is only vile behaviour that makes the Big Brother programme interesting to viewers. And, in fact, in the series in which Jade Goody was first a contestant, she was the one who was bullied. “In that case the bullying of her – on grounds of ugliness and stupidity, rather than race (she is of mixed race) – far from being deprecated by the public was enthusiastically endorsed by them, and encouraged by the press. She left the house to shouts of ‘Kill the Pig’. And what do you know? Like the survivor of a particularly hellish public school regime, Goody has found that a thorough bullying was the making of her.” (The Times, 19 January 2007)
Surely there can be little better evidence of the thorough degeneration of our society under the conditions of imperialist decline and corruption than that such a tasteless programme is offered to the public and that people actually watch it!
That this is so can only be explained by the fact that we live in a class society, where the vast majority of people have only the function of being exploited. It is not necessary for very many of them to be highly educated and, in fact, as far as the rest are concerned, it is better that they should not be, as they are easier to control if ignorant.
Consequently, ignorance and prejudice are rife. We find ourselves on this point agreeing to some extent with Keith Waterhouse in the Daily Mail of 22 January 2007: “England made her. She is the end product of the comp school she went to, the neighbourhoods she grew up in, the trash magazines and newspapers she reads … the trash TV she watches (and appears on), the trash DVDs she rents, the trash talk radio shows she tunes in to, the trash clothes and trinkets she buys, the rubbish food she eats …”
What Mr Waterhouse does not spell out, however, is that it is the penny-pinching of capitalism that deprived her of a reasonable standard of education, and capitalist profiteers who produce the trash culture and food that she consumes. In a socialist society, her education would not be neglected and she would not, as a result, be satisfied with trash.
Once Ms Goody left the house and was able to see recordings of herself, she was thoroughly appalled and ashamed. Her ignorance and prejudice had been manipulated by people using her for the purpose of enhancing profits, careers and propaganda.
One could only wish that those who engineered her humiliation, and those who deprived her of education, were also able to feel a sense of shame.