Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Chanting B-B, B-B, B-B

Chavs and chavettes hi-jack literature

Jade Goody is a prole. According to the original Big Brother in the novel 1984 by George Orwell, she is a powerless member of the great unwashed and can safely be ignored – as she will never trouble her intellectual, political and social betters.

Winston Smith, the novel's hero, speculates that the proles will one day overthrow the Party. Winston's hopes are as serious a case of wishful thinking as believing Jade is in imminent danger of being swept off her feet in a whirlwind romance by Prince Andrew. The 1984, the proles are powerless to overcome the Party. Orwell sums it up rather nicely when Winston's chief tormentor and torturer assures him that if he wishes to contemplate the future, he should imagine a boot smashing a human face – forever. Nice image that. But, then again, it's that kind of book.

Orwell wrote his warning about human nature and the prospect that the human spirit might be overcome as a modern morality play and a warning against totalitarianism. He would be horrified to see that his character, Big Brother, has been hijacked by the proles and that their agenda has become the chief form of entertainment for the masses. For, Channel 4's Big Brother is only that channel's variation on the genre that includes Coronation Street, Eastenders, and Neighbours. The proles chief entertainments in 1984 include grisly, real-life executions of “ war criminals” (Saddam Hussein in 2007) and cheap, pornographic and violent films and novels (pretty much modern media culture then!). Orwell wrote better than he knew.

What Orwell couldn't foresee or, perhaps even grasp, was that the proles might become the dominant cultural influence. Enter Miss Goody – perhaps the most inaptly named person on the planet!

Jade's antics on Big Brother have set her up, quite rightly, for intense criticism. Her abuse of the Indian actress, Shipa Shetty, is nothing less than mindless bullying.

What is truly deplorable is the protestations by the programme makers that they are raising issues that need to be discussed. Rubbish. Bullying does not need to be discussed under the guise of reality TV – it only needs to be condemned. By placing profit before responsibility, Channel 4 has exposed the worst side of the media. So, where does the final responsibility lie?

With us, I'm afraid. As long as people are “entertained” by Goody's antics, there will be a market for showing them. As long as newspapers vie with each other to print the most vile story of the year and people queue up to buy the newspapers, they will continue to do so.

Solution. Stop watching Big Brother and stop buying the Sun. It's that simple.

Final take: you can see examples of Jade's behaviour any day in any playground in the land. Fat, ugly girl bullies elegant, pretty girl because she is elegant and pretty while the bully is fat and ugly. It's really that simple and, human nature being what it is, very difficult to stop.
It's Orwell's Two Minute Hate turned adman for Chavs. Instead of gathering together and chanting B-B, B-B, B-B over and over, the chavs and chavettes gather nightly in front of their televisions (instead of Orwell's telescreens) and bemoan the demise of one of their heroines – Miss Goody. Tragic! Not!

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