8 Jun 07
I’ve just had to ask someone what this new Big Brother Race Row is all about. I’m proud to say that, since the eighth series of BB started (one week ago? Two?), I’ve only consciously sat down and watched about half an hour of it. Due to extensive media coverage, spin-off shows and front page tabloid headlines, however, it is impossible to render oneself totally unaware of the goings on in that infamous, gaudily decorated abode, and so it has come to my knowledge (from catching a few minutes of a news programme whilst eating my Malted Wheats this morning) that another “Race Row” has been “sparked” (for those who are unaware (perhaps “blissfully” so…?) of the previous “Race Row” and perhaps even have little or no knowledge of Big Brother itself, either due to living in a cave or a country other than the UK, see my previous entry on the matter or the Channel 4 website.
The person of whom I enquired on this matter is a self-confessed fan, who has said things like, “If you looked on the Internet and read all the papers, you wouldn’t have to watch it” – to which I had to bite my tongue (not literally, as I don’t like pain, but certainly in a very strong metaphorical sense) from responding, “You don’t have to watch it!” Nevertheless, she is a useful person to have around when finds oneself succumbing to the urge to give two hoots about what is going on in The Big Brother House. As such, when my curiosity was piqued by the aforementioned news programme, I found myself asking of this lady… “So what’s this new Big Brother Race Row all about then?” She proceeded to explain, thus…
Apparently (and I don’t know any of the names of those involved, by the way, so I hope you will forgive me my highly generic epithets), a blond, Caucasian lady was known, in a light-hearted and frivolous tone, to have made use of the n-word to a lady of darker complexion. The lady of darker complexion (again I beg your forgiveness, in this case of my lack of knowledge of the specific racial origin of the person in question) was known to have responded equally frivolously, being (apparently) offended not a jot by the blond lady’s casual employment of the n-word, and the matter, for a brief time thereafter, passed seemingly unnoticed… that is, until the lady of darker complexion, upon the departure of the blond lady, commented to her companion that “that was a really bad thing she said, wasn’t it?” (or words to that effect). The lady of darker complexion proceeded to repeatedly express the “badness” of the blond lady’s usage of a racially undesirable term, countering it with a “but I’m really not bothered” – and so not-bothered was she, that she continued to express her not-bothered-ness until 4am. The incident resulted in the eviction from the house of the blond lady (but not before it was shown as part of the recorded highlights), as, according to Channel 4, they “could not tolerate this kind of behaviour” (again, or words to that effect).
As I write this, I do not have access to my previous commentary on the Shilpa Shetty incidents, but I will say that, in a similar vein to that whole palaver, surely it is in the interests of the nation, race relations and the image of Channel 4, to allow such happenings to be seen, to not censor their occurrence or forcibly extract the potential source of their occurrence ( i.e. by evicting the offending housemate), and thus to demonstrate, in the witnessing of such by the viewing public, how stupid, pointless and ignorant the attitudes of the offenders in question come across to be?
The truth is unpalatable. Many people are racist, and perhaps not even particularly aware of their racism. We can only make our house cleaner if we can see the dirt.