Wednesday 18 February 2009

Historical revisionism?

I was reading a very sad yet very fascinating story on the BBC news site this lunchtime when I was interrupted by a bloody chugger, tap tap tapping at my chamber door, no less. Have the streets run out of people to persecute, forcing these wretched examples of humanity to go door-to-door? Could they not try the homeless first? "For just a small percentage of your lager money/Big Issue pay packet, you could help save deaf children from being bullied at school". "Well, as a man who has lived on the streets for five years, I'd like to first say that such a thought is deeply concerning". This is something of a digression, but still: chuggers can just bugger off.

Anyway, the BBC informed me of two things I did not know. Firstly, that at the weekend, when I was out being sophisticated and eating food, hero of our times Max Clifford revealed that the prognosis for Jade Goody's cancer is now extremely bleak, with Goody being given just months to live. Secondly, I discovered that Gordon Brown found this fact out before me, and commented on it at his regular press briefing. Jade Goody looks set, if her doctors are right, to spend her last few months as an extremely visible presence in the UK's life.

The basic fact is that this story is very sad. Goody is only 27 years old and has two young children. To her credit, she seems set to use her swansong for a massive media event marriage and other 21st Century trappings, exploiting the fact that she can command massive fees for doing so, so as to try and secure as comfortable a future as possible for her family. She should be commended for her actions.

Jade has, for better or worse depending on your opinion, very much entered the British public consciousness. It's difficult, then, to not feel sorry for her, living in one of the most unenviable situations imaginable whilst also being one of the other most unenviable situations - tabloid fame. It would be just as wrong, however, to lose sight of the fact that the root of this fame came from being swelteringly common, stupid and unpopular after her appearance on Big Brother. Subsequently embellished with a spell of being swelteringly common, stupid, unpopular and racist on Celebrity Big Brother. Since then she's been a fitness guru, a model, an A-lister, an F-lister, paparazzi fodder, a magazine columnist and a fashion icon. If we are living in the Big Brother era, where fame is seemingly handed out to the most bewildering recipient in the United Kingdom on an annual basis, Jade Goody is its flag-bearer. I predict that a state funeral will be granted any time now.

It has given me cause to reflect on the legacy of human beings, particularly those in the public eye. People who choose to remember Princess Diana's marital infidelities over the fact she was the sainted princess of all our very hearts are regularly burned in the streets. Fans of Russell Brand or Jonathan Ross beheaded at Traitor's Gate. The polarised view of the world troubles me slightly. It's rather un-British in the way it caters to a black-or-white mindset, an extremist view of the world. A return to anything resembling balance would be very nice. People do stupid things, thoughtless things, good things, smelly things, funny things, appalling things, because they are people. I personally manage to tick the majority of those boxes every single day. But it's OK, because I'm a person. People all realise that, too, even, I like to believe, the people who fill the newsstands with screaming, judgemental hyperbole every day. I just hope that when I go, I'm not remembered purely for the best thing I ever did, the worst thing I ever did or the last thing I ever did*.

* unless it involves a jet pack


Richard Tingley said...

Well written, and well said.

G said...

God, I had one of those charity callers too yesterday!

dotmund said...

I should have pretended not to hear it, they were collecting for a deaf children's charity.


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