RIP Jade Goody

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.


BBC still miffed at Russell

I was a bit annoyed to learn that the BBC wasn’t going to air this year’s “Never Mind the Buzzcocks” episode with Russell Brand as guest team captain. It was originally due to air on October 30, but that was in the thick of the ruckus over the answering machine message. I kept hoping up until the last minute that they’d decide to tack it onto the end of the season, but that never happened. Channel 4 hasn’t had a problem with airing new episodes of Russell Brand’s Ponderland in the wake of the controversy and civilization hasn’t collapsed.

(Ooh, just realized from the Wikipedia entry that there’s going to be a Ponderland Christmas special on Sunday. Cool. Also just realized that he was in “Bedtime Stories”, Adam Sandler’s new movie. Double Cool. Russell Brand is one of the few comedians who can actually make me laugh out loud when I’m alone.)

Speaking of movies (and Russell Brand), I watched “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” the other day. It’s not a particularly good movie, but I was surprised to see that Russell Brand did a pretty credible job. I expected him to pretty much act as himself (“himself” being his usual over-the-top stage persona — I have no idea what he’s like in private), but he actually played it moderately seriously.

If you laugh and no one hears, is it still funny?

I don’t usually laugh when I’m watching or reading funny things when I’m alone. I might think “Ha, that’s funny” or I might even smile, but I rarely ever actually laugh.

Russell Brand is one of the few people who will make me laugh regardless of who is (or isn’t) around me. I’m watching the second series of Russell Brand’s Ponderland right now and I’m actually laughing out loud. I mean full-bodied, audible laughter. It’s scaring the cat.

Speaking of Russell Brand

I’m tired of this brouhaha over his and Jonathan Ross’s phone calls to Andrew Sachs (Manuel of Fawlty Towers) — or, rather, to his answering machine — on Brand’s BBC Radio program. Neither one is known for being particular sensitive or mature so it shouldn’t have surprised anyone that their phone calls veered off course.

It was all over the news, both in the UK and internationally. BBC News even provides a timeline of the events. I’ve heard the show — it was in poor taste but I suspect that’s what they were going for. Given some of the borderline things I’ve heard from other British comedians, what they did wasn’t even *that* far over the line. And I don’t imagine either of them meant anything malicious by it. I don’t imagine they were thinking much beyond entertaining their audience and the other people in the studio, much like Howard Stern. Being somewhat offensive is what they are all about, like teenage boys. 😉

I do find one thing a bit puzzling. The show was recorded two days before it actually aired. Andrew Sachs and his agent don’t appear to have gotten upset about the show until it aired. So clearly the messages that were apparently left on the answering machine weren’t actually left on the answering machine, since Andrew doesn’t appear to have known about them until the show aired. The BBC timeline says:

Meanwhile, Andrew Sachs tells the BBC the show’s producer called him on the day of recording to ask if he could use the sequence in question.

He continued: “The signal was poor and I couldn’t really hear what was being played down the line to me.

So I presume he never actually received the messages himself directly. (Having listened to the show, I’d wondered why the person who was in charge of dialling the phone didn’t press 1 for more options and then delete the messages as Brand and Ross left them.) If that’s the case, then IMO it’s even more of a tempest in a teapot.

The Internet Roundabout

You might get on and off at different points but ultimately you’re just going in a big circle.

Back when Doctor Who and Torchwood were airing earlier this year, BBC broadcast a behind-the-scenes the shows each week. Most weeks, they turned me on to different pieces of music I might never have listened to. One week it was Kanye West’s Stronger, which in turn led me to Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”. The video for the Daft Punk tune is OK but nothing to write home about, unless you’re a Daft Punk or anime fan.

At the end of September, I’m watching Pink on Paul O’Grady and she talks about her appearance on the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards. I’d missed most of the show somehow, despite the fact that Russell Brand was hosting. (As an aside, it’s annoying — and stupid — that MTV won’t allow you to watch any of their videos unless you’re in the US, despite the fact that the show aired outside of the US at the time anyway.) Pink mentioning it reminds me to check Youtube. Can’t find her performance there but what I can see and what I caught on various reruns of it on TV tell me Russell Brand didn’t go over very well with US audiences. Admittedly, he’s an acquired taste. One of the clips that I’d seen on TV was Tokio Hotel winning best new artist. I’d never heard of them before that, but I loved Bill’s hair. (Hmmm, maybe that’s why I like Russell Brand: the big, dark hair.) So, yesterday, I’m back on Youtube, this time looking at top viewed videos. Low and behold, there’s Tokio Hotel, in a music video that has been viewed 28 million times. So I watch it. (Yes, I am a lemming.) It’s not half bad. So I start watching other Tokio Hotel videos. And I realize that I have heard them before, earlier this year.

Then I remember what I was looking at originally and I go back to the top viewed videos. There I find a video called Daft Hands, which features someone doing a hand jive type thing to “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”. It, like the song, starts off slowly so it looks like it will just be someone’s dancing hands. (Youtube’s top viewed are frequently complete and utter crap, like the Numa Numa guy and that incredibly nails-on-blackboard-annoying Chocolate Rain song, so it wouldn’t have surprised if that’s all this video was.) I almost didn’t watch it all the way through. That would have been unfortunate because it truly is awesome to watch. (There’s also a Daft Bodies video but it doesn’t seem as interesting to me, perhaps because I don’t find the bodies in question all that enticing.) How did I miss it back when I was looking for Daft Punk earlier this year? Apparently I was stuck on the roundabout.