A: I guess you’ll have some thoughts on Big Brother.
B: Why do you ask?
A: Well everyone else has.
B: Actually, so have I – although mine are different.
B: Yes. Everyone else hasn’t seen the programme but have a vicious opinion of people in it.
B: I have seen the show and have a vicious opinion of people who haven’t seen it.
A: Pray tell….
B: One of the most powerful motivators for humans is the motivation to not be wrong.
This particular motivator seems to have become almost been carried out on a National scale over the past 48 hours or so. People, it seems, will do almost anything to ensure they’re not in the wrong – lying, cheating, feigning illness, feigning ignorance. In the newspapers this weekend, in particular it seems that selective amnesia is the way out.
Let me illustrate. After a week of bitter hatred, and plenty of newsprint, the eviction on Friday of Jade Goody was a huge disappointment to most rabid writers and broadcasters. They had painted her as evil, a racist, a loudmouth, a bully, typical of the ‘yoof’ of today, etc. etc. On Friday she didn’t deny any of this but came across as repentant, incredibly sad, really hurt and pretty pathetic.
Now, in a month where Saddam Hussein’s popularity has shot up due to a bad death and a little dignity it seems strange that many newspapers wouldn’t offer the same mark of respect for Jade. Here is a young mother of two crying on national TV, losing her career, her earnings, her dignity and probably any respect she ever had. She’s forced to watch her appalling behaviour in front of 9 million people yet the press can’t let her off. They want their pound of flesh. They can’t be seen to be wrong. This is very worrying.
The Saturday Telegraph was pretty quiet on this denouement of the sordid story apart from a report by Nicole Martin headlined “Advertisers turned off by Big Brother row” (no surprise where the emphasis here is). Ms Martin’s few words on the outing of Jade were “Goody, at the centre of a row after making allegedly racist comments about Shetty shrugged and said “all right” as she was told by the show’s presenter, Davina MCall, that the public had voted her out of the house”. No mention of the tears, the remorse, the suffering.
Now I guess many Telegraph readers would have little sympathy with Jade, but to openly ignore what has been shown on TV is disturbing and quite insulting. Granted the demographic for Big Brother doesn’t contain a fantastic amount of Telegraph readers. However there may have been one or two Telegraph readers who had seen the eviction – not turned on to watch it of course, but it may have been there in the background while they were doing worthier things and even they must have had some pangs of sympathy. Then to read that nothing happened (apart from some advertisers getting concerned about their popularity) must have caused just a few to wonder – “Well hang on. I saw this programme and something did happen – Jade was contrite and tearful and it was a pathetic sight to see a mother of two being burnt in public. If the Telegraph lies to me about this then how can I believe everything else they say? Perhaps there are no weapons of mass destruction?”
Out of the whole affair my limited reading and viewing has picked up just 2 unlikely heroes. One – Dominic Lawson writing in the Independent makes it clear that he doesn’t agree but defends freedom of speech and cited Mr Jade as being guilty only of being a prick, which he reminds us isn’t a crime yet. I would agree. The other voice of common sense comes from Russell Brand who says, to paraphrase, “Even if Jade is a bully then kicking the shit out of her isn’t really all that clever then is?”. Again I would tend to agree.