So, farewell then, Jade Goody. You're not quite gone yet, but I am constantly reminded of your imminent death as your face stares out from newspapers and magazines everywhere I go. I did wonder whether now would be the right time to talk about a young mother who is close to death from metastatic cervical cancer; but the story is everywhere, and the comments are everywhere, so I don't suppose that it's something that can be avoided.
The first thing to say, of course, is that the newspapers have done a spectacular 'reverse ferret' when it comes to Goody - ostracised and vilified by the black-and-white thinking of newspapers that are far more racist than she ever was on Celebrity Big Brother, hated for being chubby and gobby when she first turned up on the reality TV show, her cancer diagnosis made it necessary for them to try and give a shit about a fellow human being. Now that the prognosis is terminal, they have becoming cloyingly sentimental, as if they really cared about her all along. See Septicisle's post at The Sun Lies for more on the sheer scale of hypocrisy at Britain's favourite daily dose of bollocks and bullshit.
I certainly don't blame Goody for making money from TV, the tabloids and shitrag women's mags now, at a time when she's more in demand than she ever was at the height of her post-Big Brother fame. She's been on the receiving end of unjustified criticism for no financial benefit whatsoever throughout her short and eventful life, long before that fateful Celebrity Big Brother; now she has a chance to make some money, and we all know that there's no possible way she's motivated by greed. She just wants some cash to set up her kids.
It's quite interesting to compare and contrast Goody with Danielle Lloyd, whose behaviour during the Big Brother controversy was arguably far worse but never got broadcast. Lloyd made up a limerick about Shilpa Shetty involving the word 'tacky' and left it to others to work out what she was driving at; it didn't take a rocket scientist. But while Lloyd was to some extent protected from the eye of the storm by the show's producers for fear of broadcasting something so obviously offensive, Goody was left to bear the brunt of the abuse.
Was that because she was the worst offender - calling Shetty 'Shilpa Poppadom' in a particularly unpleasant moment - or was that because Goody's a natural aunt sally, someone who was already held in some contempt by sneering columnists who despised her lack of intelligence ('East Angular' being 'abroad'), her working-class credentials, her accent, or whatever? Whatever it was, Lloyd has managed to carry on regardless, given that her job revolves around getting her tits out for men to wank over, while Jade found it a whole lot harder, given that her celebrity status depends on actually being liked and people caring about her. Hence the trip to India to join Big Brother there and attempt to build bridges, possibly in an attempt to get the career back on track, equally possibly as a genuine act of contrition, where she learnt about the cancer diagnosis.
I also don't blame Jade for selling exclusives and interviews about her cancer. As a commenter wrote underneath a blog post here yesterday, it's really not a whole world away from John Diamond writing about his throat cancer - just that while Diamond was eloquent enough a writer to do it himself, Jade is telling her story in her own words, but getting others to do the writing. Nothing wrong with that, particularly as it will give an insight into living with cancer and terminal illness that many people will get who might not have read Diamond's book, for example.
The main reason, though, why I don't blame Goody for making money is that a whole load of people have been making hay out of her illness for quite some time. Ever since she received the diagnosis, articles have been written, with and without her consent or knowledge, claiming to have the inside knowledge about what's going on. Photographs have been taken of her, frequently in tears and obvious distress, leaving clinics, hospital visits or even her home, private moments that smack of real intrusion. The justification is "Well, she's sold her story to a TV show" or "It's in the public domain" or whatever. Whatever it is, I don't buy it. Publishing pictures of people in private moments of grief and suffering are a bit beyond the pale, as far as I'm concerned, and there ought to be a bloody good reason for putting them anywhere except the bin. Can we really say that our understanding of this story has been enhanced by photos like that?
Look at today's article in the Mail for an example of what I mean. Some photos have been clearly set up with the family's consent - the one of them on holiday, for example. As for the others, I'm not sure. Maybe they're just pap pictures, and if so, do we really need to see them?
Commenters to the Mail article seem a bit divided. Some ask if this can't be done in private - it's not clear whether they're blaming the Mail and their pap chums or Jade herself for the stories being in the press. Whether she wants them to be there or not, though, I think they will be. But still, people find it necessary to put the boot into a dying woman:
If she wants to secure a nest egg for her sons why spend a million on a wedding?
I wouldn't wish her conditon on anyone, but if she didn't have this awful disease many who are wishing her well would still regard her as a loud-mouthed, ignorant individual.
The precious time she has left should be spent, privately with her family and friends, but she has no dignity, and greed will prevent this from happening. Her boys well may well grow up thinking that rather than spend her time with them, she spend it earning money.
And for those who say "come on Jade you can make it" - this is not fair as she can't make it. Support her, but don't lie.
Compare her though, to the very sad case of Patrick Swayze - a man who is famous through talent and hard work, rather than infamous for the opposite reasons.
- SV, London, 15/2/2009 16:30
Ouch. But others are a bit more compassionate:
I have never liked Jade but I felt heart sorry for her when I heard what a horrible hand she had been dealt.
She loves her boys so much and she has to be admired in the way she is making them a "memory box" it brought tears to my eyes.
I hope that she gets her wish, a fancy wedding with all the trimmings and that she does earn as much as she wants to secure her boys financial future.
If I could help her financially I would but my advice to her is, You will leave your sons much more than money, a memory box of what their mother was and what she achieved in her short life, how much she loved them and how proud she was to have them as her children.
Go on Jade, get married, make your sons their memory box and when your time comes, be safe in the knowledge that yours sons know and will never forget, just how much you loved them.
Also know that you reached out to so many people who, in their own way loved you. I am sure that in a reality heaven you will be a become a star
- Tom McGuinness, March Cambridge, 15/2/2009 18:31
So there, even now she's near death, so many people are so quick to pass judgement. It's all rather sad. Like I say, I don't blame her at all for wanting to make some money from the parasites who have kicked her down so many times during her life. The best thing she could have now is privacy, but it would appear that it's not to be, as she's constantly followed around wherever she goes. And then one day she'll be gone, and so many newspapers will pretend they gave a shit all along, and then they'll quietly find someone else to pursue, and that will be that.