I hadn’t realized that Jade had finally succumbed to the cancer she’d been fighting. It’s sad in a way I’m not sure I can articulate. It’s always sad when a young mother dies, but the controversy of her life makes this more tragic, much like Anna Nicole Smith’s life and death.
If you’ve never heard of Jade Goody, I don’t blame you. She was a contestant on UK Big Brother 3 several years, a working class girl with a brash demeanor. She parlayed her appearance into the kind of sad but relatively lucrative B-list career that only reality television can bestow on someone.
I never saw her in her original Big Brother appearance. My first taste of Jade Goody was when she, her mother, and her boyfriend entered the house for Celebrity Big Brother 5. Both she and her mother were rough but somehow likeable. I stopped watching the show when it became clear that both of them were going to be hung out to dry over racism allegations. I stopped watching not because I believe that they were genuinely racist but because they were being villified for their ignorance and poor upbringing. It was no surprise to me that Shilpa Shetty, the subject of the so-called racist bullying, ultimately won Celebrity Big Brother that year. A mob mentality took over that made sure that everyone believed that Shilpa Shetty was pure as the driven snow and Jade Goody was the Devil incarnate. It made the circus that is Big Brother even more of a farce.
It wasn’t until today, while reading Russell Brand’s blog, that I learned that Jade had died. Russell described my thoughts on the whole Big Brother situation well:
As I said at the time, the incident where Shilpa Shetti was poorly treated by a group of young women was not an example of the sickening scourge of racism but simply a daft lack of education. Jade was a tough girl but utterly lacking in the malice upon which true prejudice depends. The slick of spilled newspaper ink and the cathode conveyed H-bomb that followed this innocuous event was the real crime. Jade was made the focus of a debilitating wave of righteous loathing and condemnation, a gleefully indignant storm of trumped up wrath that served the cause of racial harmony not one iota; but that was never it’s intention. The intention was sacrifice.
As always, Russell, thanks for saying what others shy away from saying.