Monday, July 21, 2008

Funny how things happen... or don't

Some time ago, Celebrity Big Brother caused a stir with the public over issue of racism. Jade Goody called Shilpa Shetty "Shilpa Poppadom" and the country went crazy, even resulting in a diplomatic incident with India (mor e info here).

Fast-forward a year to the latest "normal" series of Big Brother and we have a housemate from Thailand called Kat who is every little bit the stereotype of a south-east asian, right down to the way she pronounces her L's.

What I'm wondering is where the outcry is over this? You see, it seems rather obvious to me that the producers picked her precisely so we could all laugh at her. Or more correctly so we could all laugh at the sterotype that she portrays via their editing.
I guess the silence must be due to people thinking that they are just laughing at her as a funny person, not laughing at her because she fulfills all our prejudices and makes us laugh at the same time.. oh yes, adn she's not a celebrity (yet).

12 comments: said...

Hmmm. I feel that the connection between the two concepts is a bit too removed to make a comparison. Jade actively bullied someone, made them very unhappy, ridiculed them etc etc. Part of her reason for doing so might have been Shilpa's race or, more likely, nationality. No matter how mental one gets over Kat, no one is bullying her, she is not unhappy... in fact, as you state, the nation LIKE her. If their reason for liking her isn't the "correct" one... so what?

Stu said...

Well... Except that the outcry with the Shilpa thing was that she was being actively bullied by other housemates. The issue was with C4 not only showing the incidents on the TV, but also allowing the racial bullying to go on without recrimination.

(Since I am not a regular or avid watcher of Big Brother, the following paragraph may contain some factual errors)

In the case of a housemate selected 'precisely so we could all laugh at her', the does not stand her out from any of the other housemates - Similarly there was Jade, the stereotypical blonde girl we could all laugh at, or there was the upper class twit in one of them, in another BB there was a nerdy housemate (who went on to be a Brainiac presenter... I think his name may have been John). There was the bloke who had Tourettes, who I believe went on to win.

People are always selected to go into the Big Brother house on the basis of their ability to amuse or entertain, which means we usually get a peculiar selection of freaks or weirdos. Just because this person happens to be amusing based on a shockingly close conformance to a national stereotype isn't any more racially prejudiced than Jade Goody's selection was class prejudiced. It's just the nature of the game

So, I think the situation is totally different, and that's why the reaction is totally different - unless the other housemates are bullying Kat?

Tony said...

I would love the answer to be "there is no outcry because nobody is watching that pathetic excuse for a television programme any more" but I doubt it somehow.

dizzy said...

I seem to have expressed myself poorly here. My point was more that no one seems to be bothered by what appears to be the purposeful selection of someone that ticks enough boxes of stereotypes for everyone to laugh at.

let me put it this way. If a sitcom had a character like her there would be people huffing and puffing about it. Don't get me wrong, I;m not complaining about it as such, I;m just bemused as to how people seem to apply these rules so differently.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

Don't watch the fucking show and go down the pub instead.

Thatcher's Child said...

I can see your point and I agree with it.

We can't laugh at funny black or brown people with their big eyes and so bright teeth - but its ok to laugh at the funny chink - cos she's laughing too!

The problem though with this concern is that this is exactly how Political Correctness started.

I doubt you remember Mind Your Language - the funniest sit com of my childhood - but your argument was one of the main arguments for why it came to an end.

My advice is laugh at the girl - It will help her short lived career! :)

Anonymous said...

Or the silence may be because no one is watching

Anonymous said...

She is who she is - I don't laugh at her - I laugh with her. She is a club queen.

I can think of no valid reason why Kat shouldn't be on Big Brother. I think it might be unfair of you to single Kat out from the others.

Liz said...

Given your honeytrap post the other day, this seems an odd thing for you to be venting about.

I'm part-Chinese. People have the most remarkable caricatures of people who look like me in their heads, and it causes me massive irritation professionally ("You speak amazingly good English!" "Yes. I was born in Grimsby.") and personally.

The "Me love you longtime" stuff is overplayed, not very funny and really fucking tedious if you encounter it as much as I do. I don't watch BB, but the lady in the video you posted seems to be perfectly aware of the stereotype and playing it to her own ends - good for her. Hope she makes a packet.

Robert said...

Could it be the C4 want somebody to have a go at her, but you know something life is to short to watch this cheap shit.

Anonymous said...

"she fulfills all our prejudices"

speak for yourself

Anonymous said...

You expressed yourself quite well I thought. But what can you expect from people who view this twatage.
Shilpa was a most annoying specimen of a stuck up condescending bitch, and I say that from what I saw of her splashed all over the media. Race plays no part for me, I would probably have to tell her to fuck off myself. She displays an attitude of superiority which seems to be based on her flawed stereotypical assumptions about herself and inferior genetic beings from lower castes. You could bring an element of race into the debate when defending yourself against such prejudice and explain that some people would not touch other people with other peoples tackle mate.