Monday, 23 March 2009

This is not a post about Jade Goody

I promised myself that I would not blog about Jade Goody. I'm going to break that promise, but not because I want to speak ill of the dead; there's been a lot of comment about Goody flying around that is reprehensible. I read, "good riddance to her" this morning. I've blogged about Facebook groups wishing death on people before, so you know where I stand on that one.

The world is broken, and Jade Goody demonstrates why. She is not the cause, or even the effect, but she - or rather, the media circus she generated, and continues to generate - is a symptom.

Let's be blunt here: who was Jade Goody? A game-show contestant who became famous for being unbelievably stupid and for flashing her toilet parts to Channel 4 viewers. That is all. No more, no less.

But, if any of us were put in the position to become rich and famous simply for being ourselves, could we honestly say that we would say, "no thanks"? The fact the tabloid newspapers fell over themselves to feature her, that cack-mags like OK! waved huge pots of cash at her to get interviews, and the fact that LivingTV might as well have renamed itself "The Goody Channel" are not Jade's fault.

Whatever else she may have been, she was clearly a loving mother, and her two children have lost a parent - no-one wants to see that happen, do they?

But what else was she? Celebrity Big Brother proved that she was both a racist and a bigot. The past few weeks have proven that cancer cures racism. No matter how harrowing her final months of life, it can't change everything that went before it.

Over the course of the past week, another famous mother has died - Natasha Richardson. Some people seem to be suggesting that Richardson is more deserving of our sympathy then Goody. Not so - but Goody is certainly not more deserving than Richardson.

For example, over the course of the weekend the bodies of three soldiers were flown back from Afghanistan to be buried. How do their familys feel when the Prime Minister decides that Jade Goody deserves a tribute and they don't? These are men who chose to put themselves into a position in which they risked being killed for their country. They are no different to the millions who died in the 40s to prevent us all from becoming German. They are not merely game-show contestants.

The BBC asked website visitors what that thought Jade Goody's legacy would be. Overwhelmingly, they responded "nothing". That she has highlighted the dangers of not being screened for cervical cancer is clear, but the fact that she has bequeathed not a penny to cancer research is worth noting.

In all of this, one name stands knee-deep in more effluent than any other: Max Clifford. As I read in a blog the other week, "if he's so good at publicity why does everyone think he's a c**t?" It's a very good point, and the answer is probably because he is one. I wonder how much money he's made from all of this? How much did he charge Goody for managing the last few weeks of her life? If anyone deserves to rot anywhere at any point in the future, it is surely him.

And then there's OK! magazine - shite-peddlars of the highest order who didn't seem to think there was anything wrong in publising a Jade Goody Tribute Issue with her year of death on the cover in big letters while she was still alive. Words fail me, especially when they decided to send out this tribute as magazine issue number 666. Yes, they really did.

Finally, let's not forget LivingTV, a channel that kept Jade in the public eye through those periods when we were trying to either ignore or forget her with a collection of interminable reality shows such as Jade's Salon. The channel that paid a fortune to screen her wedding, a wedding to a man who gives chavs a bad name.

To suggest that anyone who dies deserves more sympathy, well wishes or support than anyone else is mildly insulting. To suggest that every previous cancer victim is somehow less worthy than Jade Goody is massively insulting to a huge number of people.

Jade died how she lived - in the glare of the public eye. She chose to use that spotlight to make money for her children. In doing this, she highlighted the need for cervical cancer screening. She demonstrated just how horrible dying of cancer is.

It's not her fault that the media spotlight was there in the first place. But in the way her death is being treated, has everyone involved belittled every previous cancer death?

I think they have. And that saddens me to the core.

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