The big issue?

I've finally waited for something to die down before posting about it. Hurrah! The Big Brother furore has died down, Jade has been kicked out and has initiated a massive PR push to rehabilitate herself and things will be back to normal soon. A friend of mine said that it was encouraging that the press pretty much agreed that this was racism. Well, most of them did.

The Mail was characteristically reluctant to brand the behaviour of the bullies in the house as racist. Even after the Express had dropped scare quotes from the word 'racist', the Mail persisted with them and then, in a fantastic moment of irony, questioned why the story was receiving so much publicity by devoting an entire front page to it as well as some 21 articles on its online version on the same day.
Why don't we just switch off? It asked, forgetting its stance over Jerry Springer, the Opera - which it implied a was as bad as the BNP's claims that Muslims are plotting to take over western countries by raping women.

It must have been difficult for the Mail. On the one hand, here's the perfect opportunity to attack Channel 4 lefties and the working class for being racist, but on the other hand, calling someone racist is an example of Political Correctness Gone Mad
for the Mail. It should be said that up until this point, some of the nastiest stuff hadn't been said, but it should be no surprise that the Mail would say that what had happened so far wasn't racist, because what had gone on wasn't far off some of the Mail's own behaviour. It does worse to the Polish every other day. It implies they're murderers at worst, and hamper murder investigations with their very presence at best. It takes the piss out of the way they speak, and draws deliberate parallels between them and Borat. It says they take our jobs and bring down our wages at the same time as being out of work and homeless. It implies they're shit at driving buses. It implies their children are stretching our education system to breaking point with excessive demands for interpreters (neglecting to mention that the rise in the number of interpreters is just ONE percent). It wildly exaggerates the number of Poles migrating to Britain. Polish immigration gets blamed for Polish people being attacked. It implies they spread disease. This is not to even mention the treatment of Muslims and asylum seekers. In short, I'd rather be Shilpa Shetty in front of the three (or four if you count the dim robot) harridans in the Big Brother house than a Pole, a Muslim or an asylum seeker picking up the Mail. At least I'd be able to make some sort of reply myself. A Pole would be forced to complain via the PCC, which would be roughly equivalent to Shilpa being forced to reply to the bullies exclusivlely through the sobbing H from Steps.

After this point, criticism in the Mail seems to have been reduced to merely quoting others, be they Trevor Phillips or its old mate John Sentamu. If the paper at any point started calling the bullying racist itself, I must have missed it. Jade's calling Shilpa 'Shilpa Fuckawalla,' gets reduced to 'Shilpa Fawhiler,' too, but that's the sort of thing we expect from the Mail.

Over at the Sun, the approach was a little bit more robust in attacking bullies. Other blogs have pointed out that The Sun itself was responsible for bullying Jade on her first appearance in the house, but it's not as if Jade is the only person they've bullied over the years. Remember Shabnam Mughal, or Shabnam Mug-hal as the Sun hilariously dubbed her? Since the Sun's against bullying though, maybe it could tackle its News International stablemate at the Sunday Times. Or maybe not.

It was encouraging to see most papers agree that Shilpa's treatment was racist without any massive denials, even from Littlejohn. Okay, he said the real racism was the racism of brown people, but you know. My own take on it is that not every single comment could be taken in isolation and called racist, but the comments weren't all made in a vaccuum. There's a context that is often left out by people who act bewildered at the racism charges. What's racist about doing a funny accent? I might as well ask what's violent about touching someone's temple with my knuckles. It's all about how it's done.

As a parting shot - I don't think many people have seen this little gem as Channel 4 mysteriously left it out of the edited show. It's Jade before her eviction telling Jo not to worry about what has been said in the house as her agent can justify anything she's said. Remember that next time you see Jade in an identikit I'm-sorry-what-about-my-kids-my -windows-have-been-put-in-and-I'm-suicidal interview.

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