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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Goody Goody MPs

Is it a sign of an egalitarian society that Jade Goody is regarded as a significant subject on whom self-opinionated, pompous parliamentarians can focus their sound bytes? Big Brother appears to create a virtual fence over which we can all be neighbours, spilling our vitriol, whether we are taking part like Jade Goody or voting her out. All is virtual now. We can be voyeurs. (We can even up the ante and enjoy a new life in an Internet universe, our first so-called real one being a recipe for insignificance and ennui.) Our MPs can express virtual moral outrage, basking in the reflections from the virtual blaze of publicity of a culturally bankrupt TV show. Our priests can declaim, virtually, their saccharine truths. Our news presenters can fake orgasms over the consequences for international relations with India – for most a seeming virtual state full of call centres where its workers are coached in British soaps so that their virtual identities seem authentic down the line. Meanwhile, programme makers at Channel 4 rub their grubby, culture-free Pilate palms and deflect any notion of guilt by claiming they had initiated a necessary national debate over racism.

Has it escaped every one’s virtual attention that Jade Goody is not real? She is a character in an alternative Truman Show. If we watch, it is we who may be racist. Certainly, Channel 4 is racist for ensuring the whole virtual garbage continues to spill over our virtual garden walls.

No, she is not a sign of an egalitarian society but a cipher for how easily we are willing to switch from life and death realities, from the challenge of making our world worthy of our children, whatever their background, to a virtual game world where everything from the appalling to the toe-curling can attract our fulminations whilst never really impinging upon us.


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