Chris Roper

The gospel according to Goody

2009-03-25 09:01

Chris Roper

The Jade Goody affair has provided shocking insight into the terrible industry that is the British tabloid press. The coverage has been nothing short of diabolical.

For example - it's been more than three days since she died, and yet there's been no coverage of her resurrection. Is it too much to ask that you chaps follow a story through to some sort of logical conclusion?

At least the ever-popular rag The Dilly Mill has made some sort of attempt at responsible investigative journalism, with their Spreadbett.com sponsored "Chat to Jade on The Other Side" competition. But only five lucky readers can win an hour with Agnes the Medium, which rather leaves the rest of us in the dark as to what Jade's getting up to in Heaven.

The forthcoming publication of the Goody News Bible (now with extra martyrs) is something to look forward to, but that's not coming out for months. Possibly even longer, if they mean it literally when they describe it as "ghost-written". And although the Jade's CoffinCam site is interesting as far as it goes (about six feet), it does pall after a few days.

I love this bit from the Guardian.co.uk.

(Not, on the face of it, a newspaper site that one associates with tabloid sensationalism, but still caught in the trap of having to cover the Goody news).

The writer, Lucy Mangan ("the author of Hopscotch & Handbags: The truth about being a girl") is discussing the "Living with Jade" documentary, and Jade's statement that she didn't want her friends visiting her in hospital.

"That she keeps her friends away when times are tough is a relic of her early enforced self-reliance and in that moment, the camera watching her seems to be a substitute for the support network...

"In that moment, the question of exploitation does not arise. What we are doing is bearing a kind of witness to someone struggling against the odds as, she must have felt, she had been struggling all her life."

Mielie-mouthed post-partum analysis

Ha ha! What a klomp kak! ("Pile of poop", for our overseas readers.) You can apply as much mielie-mouthed post-partum analysis as you like to what the media did to birth the irrelevance that is Jade Goody, but you'll never alter the depressing, unalterable truth - you took a moron and made her into a maniac.

The same people who wrote about and constructed Jade as a fat pig, a bimbo, and a racist, who held polls about how much of a drunken slut she was, and who paid her boyfriend to describe what she was like in bed, are now being portrayed as do-Goodys, the tellers of a morality tale, the narrative engines behind a psychological process of guilt and redemption. It doesn't wash.

We're supposed to believe that Jade Goody was a damaged, tragically flawed anti-hero, and her life a triumphant allegory for the struggle between circumstance and aspiration.

No, sorry. As Jade herself so eloquently put it, you're trying to use her "as an escape goat". You lot got it right the first time. She was just an idiot. Now we know we all have to be nice to idiots, that's the democratic way. One Brain Cell, One Vote, as we say in South Africa, where we have way more than our fair share of idiots. (Cue opportunity for hurt Jade fans to comment - yes, you meanie, you're one of them. See, I look after your needs too.)

All your post-martyrdom analysis means is that the British press are trying to tell their readers that it's okay to be fat, stupid, bigoted and belligerent, as long as you keep buying our newspapers.

Perhaps I'm being a little harsh. Jade Goody has contributed hugely to the cultural capital of the world. Like Mother Teresa's range of "Holy Water" perfumes, Jade's "Shh..." perfume (apparently, she wanted to call it "Shit", but the marketing people said that her fans prefer a bit of mystery with the crap they're being fed) has actually saved lives. Yep, you drink it, you ascend to a state of bliss.

And of course, Jade's principled anti-Paki stance towards Indian actress Shilpa Shetty has kept the cinemas of London just a little safer from the insidious scourge of Bollywood. Although an anti-Indian stance might have made a little more sense, obviously, but no matter. It's the thought that counts.

Still, when all's said and done, we are dealing with a human life and death here, so let's try and say something nice. Hmm.

Chris Roper blogs on Chrisroper.co.za (a finalist in the Political Blogs category of the SA Blog Awards, go vote for your favourites on Sablogawards.com)

Send your comments to Chris.

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