Archive for the ‘Shilpa Shetty’ Category

On a Blog Near You

June 17, 2007

Just a few salient points:

1) Jade Goody is badly educated in comparison to Ms. Shetty but have you stopped to wonder why? She spent most of her childhood looking after her mentally-ill, drug-addicted mother. How did the Upper-Caste Ms. Shetty cope with that – oh, that’s right – she didn’t have to.
2) Ms. Goody is of West Indian descent – she has West Indian features – much of the media’s mockery is a result of this. Ironically, Ms. Shetty conforms to Western ideals of beauty more than Ms. Goody.
3) Could someone please tell me how people arrive at the conclusion that Ms. Shetty is intellectual. She failed to watch a single episode of Big Brother before agreeing to appear on the show and seems ignorant of the origins of its title. Germaine Greer observed that there was bullying on Big Brother when she walked out of the programme two years ago. My response was ‘Well, duh’. The programme’s title is derived from a novel that depicts a totalitarian state governed by a capricious, malevolent dictator known as ‘Big Brother’. Bullying? In that kind of environment? Who’d have thought it?

4) Finally, how, for the love of cake, does this sully the reputation of Britain? There are 60 million people in this country and less than 8 million watch Big Brother. As the Americans would say: ‘Do the math’.

Interview with a Bollywood ‘Star’

June 4, 2007

Shilpa I
Shilpa II
Shilpa III

I found her tedious, vacuous, and horribly self-obsessed. I’d like to know from people who were charmed by her – at what point in the interview did Ms. Shetty’s putative intellectual prowess manifest itself? And where was this legendary ‘dignity’? A woman in her thirties giggling like a school girl is not my idea of dignified behaviour.

Finally, an extract from the ‘Rapid Fire Question’ round:

Interviewer: If you woke up as Jade Goody tomorrow, what would you do?

(*How old are these people again?)

The Delightful Ms. Shetty: (giggles) I’d kill myself.

What a perfectly charming young woman.

Will Somebody Please Get Me Out of This Rabbit Hole?

February 6, 2007

And this one, I think, will run and run. The Jade Goody/Big Brother story is still occupying column inches, still causing mass hysteria. Ms. Shetty is being interviewed around the clock and people are still comparing her favourably to Ms. Goody. Much has been made of Jade Goody’s lack of intellectual prowess in comparison with that of the ‘college educated’ Ms. Shetty. Apparently she has appeared in fifty Bollywood films and speaks ten languages. Which begs the question: why on earth was she appearing on Big Brother at all. The programme is named after the manipulative, omnipotent dictator of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. I’m surprised Ms. Shetty was unaware of this. Big Brother is also renowned for the bullying and vulgarity of many of its housemates. Surely Ms. Shetty viewed footage of past shows before she agreed to compete.

Media luminaries are lining up to inform Ms. Goody that she is not exactly the brightest star in the sky. Well, guess what, people, Ms. Shetty sounds as though she has had a better education than Ms. Goody because she has. There is a deeper issue here, one that the media is steadfastly refusing to confront. Is is right to gloat over the fact that a damaged young woman has been so poorly served by our education system?

I don’t adhere to the concept of collective guilt so I don’t believe Ms. Goody’s conduct represents me. It has been suggested that we, as a nation, should be ashamed and embarrassed by Ms. Goody’s behaviour. I disagree. Any embarrassment we feel should not be a result of what happened in the Big Brother House but by the way in which a minority of the population reacted: screaming for lynch mob ‘justice’ (an oxymoron if ever there was one) whilst being cheered on from the sidelines by our so-called intelligentsia. I’m surprised I didn’t hear calls of ‘Burn the witches.’ Now, where is Matthew Hopkins when you need him?

Dispatches From the Rabbit Hole

January 31, 2007

I have fallen down a rabbit hole. I am still bewildered by the strange new world I have been confronted with. It is a parallel world that has existed all along I just didn’t see it until its inhabitants reached out and slapped me awake. I squint as that world’s sunbeams force their way into dark dusty corners. I open my eyes fully and I am afraid of what I see.

When I saw Yasmin Alibhai-Brown on BBC News 24 last Sunday I remember thinking, ‘Now, at last someone will talk some sense.’ I was to be disappointed. She was part of a panel along with three of the finest minds the media could conjure up. They were discussing the issues of the week. Did they talk about war, famine, pestilence? Of course they didn’t. They were discussing an issue that even I could not escape from – the recent debacle in the Big Brother house. Was it unfair of me to expect reasoned debate from this panel? Was it unreasonable of me to expect critical analysis and objectivity from reputable journalists on the BBC? Yasmin Alibhai-Brown was, after all, one of the few journalists to call for public restraint after 9/11.

That panel of journalists became a lynch mob as sure as any in the deep South of the States throughout the first few decades of the last century. (a slight exaggeration I admit but I wouldn’t be the first to resort to hyperbole in this unfortunate little episode.) In a strange parody of the episode in the Big Brother House Ms. Alibhai-Brown appointed herself the ringleader

She launched a scathing attack on Ms. Goody and the working class. They, apparently, are responsible for everything that is wrong with this country and, quite possibly, the entire universe. Two out of three of the other panelists clung on to every word she said. The subtext of the debate was that the other panelists had not been through what Ms. Alibhai-Brown had (racism, discrimination etc) and thus had no right to contradict her. She had the monopoly on suffering. The fourth panelist tried valiantly to assert his views but was shouted down. Ms. Alibhai-Brown compared Britain unfavourably with India and Africa. She claimed that she had just returned from India (a sophisticated metropolis, no doubt) where, according to her, ‘Everyone is courteous, even the beggars.’ Can anyone see a fatal flaw in this statement? A society so perfect wouldn’t have beggars. I doubt she is qualified to make the claim that no one in India is discourteous.

Ms. Alibhai-Brown then went on to make the most breath-takingly foolish and ignorant statement I have ever heard: ‘The poor never behave badly in India or Africa.’ Again, how can she be so sure? It appears to have escaped Ms. Alibhai-Brown’s notice that Africa and the subcontinent of India are separate geographical locations. The former is a continent comprised of heterogeneous countries which, as far as I am aware, are not populated by clones. A positive stereotype is still a stereotype. Ms. Alibhai-Brown frequently uses her background to lend authority to her assertions. She is Ugandan-Indian. I wonder what she thinks of Idi Amin, the Ugandan dictator who escaped justice and was living in luxury when he died. Would she say that he was incapable of behaving badly simply because he was spawned by the continent of Africa? What of Robert Mugabe and his supporters? Are they beyond reproach? I’m sure many of that once benign dictator’s followers would use the fact that they are impoverished as an excuse for their own behaviour. And why do we sit without protest while in rural India the Dalits (or ‘Broken People’ – a name they apply to themselves. Other Indians call them ‘Untouchables’.) are mistreated and maligned? Why did no one protest when the low-caste rebel Phoolan Devi who took up arms against her oppressors, was shot in the street in 2005 in what some believe was an extra-judicial killing?

Ms. Alibhai-Brown and the other woman on the panel (women beware women) claimed that Ms. Goody’s attack on Ms. Shetty was motivated by envy of her appearance, of her cultured manner, of her superior education. Ms. Shetty undoubtedly conforms to Western ideals of beauty (Bollywood likes them like that, I believe). The fragrant Edwina Curry appeared on Question Time and insisted that ‘They are slags. Those three girls (Jade, Danielle and Jo) are slags.’ Ms. Curry should be given the award for Best British hypocrite for, if memory serves me correctly, she had an affair with former prime minister, John Major when he was in office and later betrayed him. I know all about slags, Ms. Curry, I’m one of the few unfortunates who have read your diary.

Alas, the story does not end here. There are quite a few candidates for Edwina’s award. One competitor for this award has to be Ken Livingston (AKA: Red Ken – now that’s a misnomer, if ever I heard one. My cat harbours more communist sympathies than him.), the Mayor of London came out in support of Ms. Shetty immediately. This is coming from a man who likened a Jewish journalist to a Nazi Concentration Camp guard. Yet another candidate for this award is Meera Syal (And to think I once admired her.) She was one of the first to jump onto the Big Brother Race Row bandwagon. Syal once appeared on *Room 101. One of her choices was an entire nation – Austria. ‘Have you been there?’ asked the presenter.

‘No,’ Ms. Syal replied unashamedly. ‘I’d be afraid they’d ask me to take a shower.’

I don’t think so, Ms Syal. But they might ask you to join the SS. And this is where endorsing the concept of collective guilt gets us. For it to have any validity, it must be applied to all groups and, if is not, the concept has no validity. Circular but simple.

Not simple enough for some, it would seem.

This Too Shall Pass

January 22, 2007

‘There’s your hopes and your dreams you embrace
Then there’s what’s staring you in the face
Sorrowful times are here but they won’t last
This too shall pass’

Bruce Hornsby

In response to this

Dear Ms. Alibhai-Brown,

I read your column with interest. I also listened to what you had to say on the BBC’s News Twenty Four and frankly I found it rather amusing. I really don’t think a country that treats a sixth of its population as subhuman (the lowest caste – the ‘untouchables’) has the right to lecture any other country on bigotry. This kind of discrimination occupies no column inches in our newspapers. No one takes to the streets and burns effigies of upper caste Indians on their behalf. But then they’re not spoilt Bollywood actresses.

I am from a working class background so I’m probably not as intelligent and sophisticated as you are but there are a couple of things I just don’t ‘get’:

1. Why do you consider racism wrong while endorsing other forms of bigotry such as class-based prejudice and misogyny? (You accused Jade Goody of being motivated by envy in her treatment of Ms. Shetty because the former is ‘ugly’ and the latter is ‘beautiful’ – because that is all woman is, right? Her packaging? The irony is that Ms. Shetty probably comes closer to Western ideals of beauty than Jade Goody who has West Indian features.) It seems like an illogical position to hold.

2. How is a programme watched by a minority of the population any more representative of the UK than the way in which some Indians treat their lower caste citizens? (They are exploited, mistreated, raped, tortured, immolated but that’s clearly something that doesn’t interest you. The next time you’re at the BBC take a trip over to Radio Four’s studios and listen to the episode of ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ that was broadcast on the Saturday before Christmas – it includes a particularly harrowing account of caste-based violence in rural India. That didn’t make it into our newspapers – probably because it didn’t involve any celebrities.)

Make no mistake, bigotry is wrong. All kinds of bigotry. Exhibiting a different kind of bigotry to Ms. Goody does not make you superior to her, it makes you the same as her. If you disapprove of someone’s behaviour it’s best to avoid emulating them.

And finally, could you please justify this:

yours sincerely,

%d bloggers like this: