I quite enjoyed reading this article about Michael Parkinson lashing out at the media for their response to the death of Jade Goody. It articulates some of the things that I’ve been shouting at the television screen for quite some time.
I did initially think he was a little harsh to describe her as “barely educated, ignorant and puerile”, but actually when I thought about it further I realised none of those adjectives is inappropriate. She was all those things, it’s just people don’t tend to say so once someone has died.
I’ve never had a particular problem with Jade Goody. Yes she was self-confessedly dim, but in general she wasn’t malicious, and she never proclaimed herself to be particularly talented or newsworthy. She just milked the media for money, in quite a shrewd way, in order to achieve a better life for herself and her children.
BUT, I have objected to the reaction to her death. Of course it is sad for someone to die at 27, particularly when they have young children. But as Parkinson said, “it’s not the passing of a martyr or a saint or, God help us, Princess Di”. So why have we had this ridiculous reaction? People lining the streets throwing flowers at her hearse, for fuck’s sake!
It is entirely typical of British society now though: people being famous simply for being famous; a stupid celebrity culture where you can bypass talent and hard work just by getting yourself on the right TV show or in the right magazine; and a highly volatile relationship with the public, who’ll switch easily from loving you to hating you and then right back to loving you again.
Jade’s just lucky her death didn’t come immediately after the whole Celebrity Big Brother debacle. What would we have had then? People spitting at her coffin? How readily people forget.
So anyway, good on Michael Parkinson for being so caustic and yet so apposite.