I'll have to come clean first of all because I have looked at Celebrity Big Brother this week. I was reading BBC online and happened to see that guy from The A Team was one of the contestants and wondered what he looked like now. The programme itself is like watching paint dry - nothing ever happens. It amazing that you can get all these people in one room and they can't find an interesting topic for discussion! Don't they have any amazing life experiences to draw on? Haven't all those years at parties given them a few useful opening lines or some expertise in small talk?
That would have been that for me, but now the controversy over whether one of them is the target of racism has taken over the headlines. There are many things in the news that I'm tempted to write about and resist, but this one has opened a can of worms and one that I think should have been noticed and dealt with decades ago. One report, on a loop every hour, ends with a question - has this exposed the underbelly of British culture?
Most emphatically yes, and not before time! What on earth has happened to Britain where chavs, ASBO's and binge drinking have become part of it's culture? Road rage, trolley rage, air rage - where does all that rage come from?
I went to boarding school in Ireland and before that I was at a south London comprehensive. The difference couldn't have been greater. In Ireland I was expected to work hard and do well. In London, the studious ones or those that dared to be different were bullied, mocked and ostracised. (Some girls in my class went missing, truant, for weeks on end. The ambition was to leave as soon as possible, get engaged and be, or pretend to be, an adult). In those three so-called celebrities in the Big Brother house, I see the same comprehensive school mindset, and it's gone downhill rapidly since the seventies. Now even celebrities, who used to a least have the minimum requirement of talent, act like those yobbish, uneducated kids in the playground. Personally, I feel the media and it's incessant coverage and even encouragement (just look at the bitchy weekly articles in OK magazine written by Jordan or has-been girl band singers) has made this not only common place but acceptable, barely noticeable. The British tabloids are recognised the world over as being the most vicious. Millions of people tune in to Eastenders to see people shouting, victimising and even killing each other. The other soaps are just the same. Yes, there is a funny side, it's a bit of a pantomime, but the message is insidious.
The victim in the Big Brother house is a very beautiful, articulate star of Bollywood. She says in one clip 'I feel like I'm losing my dignity'. Jade Goody is seen to scream in another something like ' you're fake, you're no princess, you're normal' as if there is some level that she should come down to I suppose. I feel this speaks volumes about Britain. Of course, not everyone is like this, but those that want a decent quality of life, who respect others and behave with dignity seem increasingly to be very much in the minority.
Can all this really come as a surprise to anyone who has lived in or visited the UK? Go almost anywhere in the world and people welcome you, apologise in perfect English for not speaking your language and above all, no matter what level of wealth or poverty, behave with dignity. Yes, these foul mouthed young women and what happens in the house is being blown out of all proportion but it's sparked something much more important, it's highlighting the very rapid decline in British culture. Jade may have put her foot in her mouth but ironically it could be the catalyst for Britain to take a first step in the right direction. I hope so.