Saturday, January 20, 2007

Shilpa Shetty and Big Brother. Was it Racism?

You must have, by now, heard of the huge, huge ruckus with Bollywood diva, Shilpa Shetty (left), Jade Goody (right) and other housemates on UK Channel 4's Celebrity Big Brother.

Much of the big hoo-hah has to do with allegations of racism. Well you see... Shilpa's an Indian amongst a bunch of caucasian Brits and Americans.

Primary among these allegations are:
- Jade Goody calling her "Shilpa Pappadam".
- Danielle Lloyd said Shetty should "fuck off home" and could not speak English properly.
- Housemates Jade Goody, Danielle Lloyd and Jo O'Meara made fun of Shetty's accent.
- The trio also complained that Shetty had touched other housemates' food with her hands (and they commented they didn't know where her hands "had been").
- Former S Club 7 star O'Meara said that Indians were thin because they were always ill as a result of undercooking their food.
- Danielle Lloyd called her a dog.
- Jack Tweed called her a cunt.
- And the mother of all arguments between Shetty and Goody over cubes of chicken stock.
But was it outright racism?

I have watched the videos (linked below) and I have to say... no, not really.

During the actual arguments, there weren't any racist slurs. Nothing racist was said to Shilpa Shetty's face. There was a lot of foul language and racially-neutral derogatory comments, but all that says is that Shilpa's housemates were rude, had no class and were badly brought up - but there was no explicit racism.

Where the racist comments did pop up though, were during the "private" moments when the trio (Jade Goody, Danielle Lloyd and Jo O'Meara) were doing their 'girl-talk' thing. The kind of talk when a bunch of like-minded mates sit together over a drink. Lot of hush-hush, snigger-snigger and chuckle-chuckle. Elbow-elbow, prod-prod.

But that's the kind of stuff each and every one of us are guilty of. Which among us have not said something mean about a different race or nationality or culture? More specifically, which of us have not made racist jokes and spoken racist opinions to like-minded friends over a teh tarik?

What sets us apart though from Jade, Danielle and Jo is the fact that we are weren't dumb enough to say all that on national TV, and they were.

So again, were they racist? ... yeah I guess, but not more than the rest of us.

For more background, here's a link to Big Brother 2007 articles on BBC. (Click the search button again to refresh the list of articles).

For an opposite viewpoint on the whole issue, have a read of this article. It basically floats the idea that Shilpa Shetty was manipulating her housemates. She is, after all, a very good actress.

Celebrity Big Brother Racism Row on ITN News 17.01.07

The Chicken Stock Cube 1/2

The Chicken Stock Cube 2/2

Danielle & Jo on Shilpa & Indians

Danielle calls Shilpa a dog


Neil J said...

I would agree, it wasn't racism. It was a story invented by the media, to create a sensation, to sell more copies! Pete Burns was incredibly racist to Tracy last year, but this did not make one paper.

Martin said...

Good Job! :)