There’s been a massive groundswell of support for Jade Goody since the news of her terminal cancer broke in the press.
While tabloid outpourings of grief are all very well and fine, there’s been a bitter aftertaste for me. After all, wasn’t it the tabloid press who vilified her after the bullying incident on Celebrity Big Brother? The same tabloid press who are now fondly ‘remembering’ her on their front pages.
So while a couple of years ago, the press were brandishing torches and pitchforks for Goody, today they’re giving us blow-by-blow accounts of her death. But don’t underestimate the effects of the tabloid campaign against her: her home was vandalised, her effigy was burnt in the streets in India, and the Prime Minister had to answer some tough questions about whether this was typical of the British attitude to other cultures. So, is this five-star treatment at the hands of the press a round-about way of apologising to her?
I’d love to have the answer to that question.
Is it right to sell your death?
I want to look at the media frenzy over this story for a minute. The exclusive magazine deals and interviews. The people behind this publicity train claim it’s securing the future for Jade’s sons. But seriously and cynically, isn’t that what they’d want you to think?
On one hand, as the epitome of the talentless celebrity, the only way Jade can provide for her family is from the fruits of public appearances. I get that. But what of the shrewd businesswoman? What of the beautician’s business she had that I remember from one of her spin-off shows?
Also take a look for a minute at the after-effects of this. Firstly, the public, are given a ghoulish fascination with watching someone deteriorate on-screen. The media saturation is endless, with squalid and often suspect tidbits of information being fed to us.
I thought the shock value of the bald head in the wedding photos was a bit distasteful too. Rather than wear a wig to look pretty for her one big day, Jade chose to go au naturelle. When I see things like that, I feel I’m being fed a story. Little details that amount to a very lucrative story.
One thing’s for sure, the floodgates have been opened for public pity campaigns in a major way now. We once balked when Jordan talked about screening one of her operations live on TV, but now the nation is lapping up a death lived through the eyes of the papparazzi lens. That’s ghoulish and sick in my opinion.
The Paparrazzi element
Just a short point, this one. I read over on Unreality TV about Jade’s neighbours hurling abuse at her for the photographers camped outside her house all day and night.
Certain celebs have a righteous hatred of the paps for following their every move and shocking, intimidating behaviour. Others recognize the brand value of keeping their mugs in Heat magazine and are distinctly friendly with their hunters.
When I read that story, I could only think of how nothing was learned from a certain princess dying in a Parisian tunnel 12 years ago. At the hands of these camera-weilding hyenas. Should we really be encouraging the paps to journal this situation?
Cancer, celebrities and death
Now, you should know that worldwide in 2007 there were almost 8 million cancer deaths. That’s not the sum total of sufferers, just the ones who died. Cancer’s everywhere. I can’t count the number of my relatives that have died of the disease.
Of those 8 million dead, I’m guessing that very few were able to sell their story to ensure a comfortable life for their kids and those they left behind. I’m guessing that the media weren’t all that bothered about their stories, or their pain or their survivors.
And there are more noble ways for the cancer-stricken celebrity to die. Take Eastenders’ Wendy Richard, who passed away quietly last week, far from the glare of flashing cameras and lucrative interviews. Not only did she have a long fight against the disease, but she campaigned to raise awareness of the disease and to encourage people to be tested for it.
I was reminded the other day about Paul Newman, another cancer victim who did not milk his suffering for personal gain. Read the Wikipedia section about the millions of dollars he donated to good causes: $250 million alone from the sale of Newman’s Own goods.
The problem I find with z-lister celebrities is that they’re either very quiet about their charitible works, or they don’t do any at all. Aside from a few pithy words about neglecting to screen for cancer, Jade Goody’s story has focussed solely on Jade Goody. She hasn’t used her position in the media to help out any one cancer charity, but she’s accepted obscene amounts of money that might be…
…dedicated to research into cancer and possible cures!
Cures that, in fact, might help out her children later in life. If it turns out they contract the disease down the line, will they be grateful for a cure or a few quid to see them through university?
I would like to invite others to comment on what’s been said here. I’ve not written any of it lightly, and I’ve tried to steer away from being wildly cynical and even venemously insulting as I’ve seen some critics being recently.
My viewpoint on this article is cynical of the press for exploiting a situation to sell newspapers, and I think the idea of selling pictures of someone terminally ill for their personal profit is morally questionable.
Since I’ve seen other flame wars on this topic, I’d be grateful if you feel the need to respond, please keep your tone civil. Thank you.