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Jade Goody

March 22, 2009

“It’s all bollocks!” was my considered response to a colleague when I found myself skating towards a conversation about Jade Goody I didn’t want to engage in.  

I didn’t mean the Jade Goody machine per se, more the story in which the OK! production team defended the early publication of “that” tribute issue saying that the Goody family supported it. It did all seem like bollocks to me. Bollocks because it was a redundant act. I didn’t want to hear about it.

Marina Hyde’s column in the Guardian on Saturday reassured me, indicating the family’s feelings may not have necessarily been as accurately portrayed in the OK! press release as first thought. Who knows. I mean really. Who knows and, given that Goody died this morning. who really cares now?

Paddy O’Connell on Radio 4’s Broadcasting House described the Big Brother star as someone who polarized opinion, something borne out even this morning on Twitter by @almostwitty. @rfenwick tweeted this account of a Bishop giving his view on Sky News.

There are others, of course, who don’t necessarily feel the same way. At the time of writing a an emerging trend on Twitter was “RIP Jade Goody”. People might be tired on celebrity news and celebrity exclusives, but it seems as run of the mill and relatively common experience death is, it is her final act which is connecting people. The Canon at Motherwell church invited prayers to be said in her memory during Radio 4’s morning service this morning.

What BBC London’s Leslie Joseph described as the “sweet irony” of Goody’s death coming in the early hours of Mothering Sunday makes her relatively bizarre life to some extent even more enthralling.

Born in South East London, plucked from obscurity and thrust into the bright lights of the mainstream media as a result of an appearance on Big Brother in 2002, Goody exploited the notoriety she achieved as a result of the personal traits she was criticised for.

We became hungry not just for the salacious detail or the disparaging comments (itself nothing more than a way to feel better about ourselves), but also to figure out whether we were being conned by a well-oiled, self-publicising machine. Was she really that dim? Or did she know exactly what she was doing and was milking it for all she was worth? Little wonder some people’s views are negative this morning.

As much as some may wriggle uncomfortably at the success she has achieved and the way she has achieved it, as well as the attention her life will continue to get, in playing out her death in the mainstream she has succeeded in doing one of many things.

Apart from the obvious financial benefits for her family after her death and the raised profile for cancer prevention and treatment in the UK, Goody has held up a mirror on society, forcing us to look at the way in which they react to her and the Goody machine.

Did she deserve to be on Big Brother? Did she deserve to get the media attention she did because of it? Were we applauding mediocrity and did the industry feed the mediocrity? And in dying did we owe her more respect or might she have forgiven us for being a little bit bemused and confused about how it was her life panned out ?

  1. judging by the medical aftershock of Goody’s passing, it sounds like she might have inadvertently made a long-term difference for cancer prevention in the U.K.

  2. We were applauding the rise of the wilfully ignorant, the self-seeking self-publicisng hounds of the world who will do anything as long as it gets them attention (self included). We’re talking about a woman who thought East Sussex was aboard.

    Of course, she didn’t deserve to die but neither did she deserve accolades and tributes from the Prime Minister. I look forward to seeing similar accolades for all the other cancer victims who died on Mothering Sunday.

    Let’s face it, if you were writing the whole Jade Goody story as a fictional novel, having her die on Mother’s Day would just be *too* much, y’know?

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