: views from the Hill

Friday, January 19, 2007

Racism? Or Jealousy and Envy? Or Just Showmanship?

For those who aren't living under a rock (hey, even I know about this and I haven't had the TV on since ... oh, about October), there's a brou going on over at Celebrity Big Brother (over 38K protests already logged) about the interactions between some of the other contestants and Shilpa Shetty, a Bollywood movie star.

The long time sponsor, Carphone Warehouse, has canceled their sponsorship. Tempers run high, and so do the viewer stats.

I finally clicked over to YouTube this morning to check out some clips of what's been happening.

The Economist has what I think is probably the right take on the situation.

The crap these people are throwing at Shilpa Shetty is less about racism (although the bullies do pick on Shetty's Indian face and clothes and cooking and what-all because they think that's where she's vulnerable) and more about the fact that Shetty is beautiful, poised, well-spoken, well-off and in all ways a success, a celebrity in her own right.

The contrast between her circumstances and those of her bulliers is striking.

They're jealous. They're eaten up with envy. They are showing the world less what is wrong with Shetty and her Indian background and more about what is inherently wrong with them. The more they beat up on Shetty and the more grace she shows, the less she breaks down because of the verbal battering, the more infuriated they become.

What a bunch of jerks.

Shetty is grace under pressure, a lot of pressure. She'll come out of this with her halo intact, nay even polished. Perhaps her grace is a form of passive aggression, perhaps she's classy because she knows it drives them nuts.

Maybe so, but the others? They simply come across as jealous lusers. Bullies. Cretins. Crap.

My take.

Or is it all just theater? The Age comes through with a different slant.

As feminist Germaine Greer, who appeared in a previous Big Brother, argued in The Guardian, Shetty is "a very good actress". "Everything about (Shetty) is infuriating," Greer said. "Everyone hates her because she wants them to. The problem is that most of the housemates are too dim to convey what a pain in the arse Shilpa is without appearing to persecute her."

Some papers are calling Greer's commentary a defense of Shetty.

You think? I don't. I don't think Germaine Greer much likes Shetty either.


We now return you to things that matter.

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