Friday, May 08, 2009
Jade Goody's trajectory went from being nothing to becoming a celebrity then collapsing in the racism row over Celebrity Big Brother and finally redeeming herself by publicly dying of cancer. This all took place between 2002 and 2009.
My colleague, Guy Osborn, organized a seminar today to lauch a special issue of the Entertainment and Sports Law Journal. The topic was: "Governing Celebrity: Multiculturalism, Offensive Television Content and Celebrity Big Brother 2007. The issue is freely available online. Two of the authors, Lieve Gies and Dania Thomas, presented their papers. Bettina Lange was the discussant. Les Moran chaired. There is a fascinating mix of articles by legal scholars and sociology of media scholars.
During the 2007 series of Celebrity Big Brother a Bollywood actress, Shilpa Shetty, who was virtually unknown outside India, rose to fame on a sequence of racist comments by women in the CBB house. The most notorious was Jade Goody who was summarily evicted. There were even diplomatic tensions between the UK and India.
Although these television shows are called reality TV, there is nothing real about them. An interview clip with Jade on YouTube shows how celebrity alters people and makes them deviate from the norm. The celebrity is a mode of representation, a construct, not a real person, one who is ultimately consumed by their celebrity.
So, I encourage you to read the special issue. One of the nice things about online journals is that they don't have to be static. This one will expand in the near future with input from Ofcom and Bettina Lange.
Disclosure: Once upon a time I appeared on reality TV in a television programme called Grand Designs. The programme makers follow the process of the building of a home. It is strange when one can be far away from one's home and someone says, "I like your house." There are roughly 5 million people who know my house as well as I do. And it's not that big...