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Jade Goody

For those of you from Tau Ceti, Jade Goody is a nonentity dying of cancer.

Jade Goody is getting married today. Very publicly.

I mean OK. Fine. I can understand her desire to make a few quid for her kids and all that and if she encourages parents to take up Gardasil for their daughters then some good comes from the awfulness of a 27 year old mother of two dying very horribly and very publicly.

But this was top story on BBC News 24. And it’s the details that get me. Her wedding dress was donated by Harrods owner Mohammed Al Fayed and has a specially tailored pouch for Ms Goody’s morphine. Do I need to know that? Max Clifford thinks that I do. For he is her publicist.

Now I have nothing per se against Max Clifford. He is undeniably very good at what he does. I first heard of him when he represented Michael Barrymore. He got Barrymore off the hook after a rather rococco incident at his Essex Mansion. For non-UK readers the short version was that following a drug-fuelled orgy at Barrymore’s gaff a dead body was found in his swimming pool with severe rectal injuries consistent with the chap having been anally raped with a broomhandle. It killed Mr Barrymore’s career as a family entertainer. Clifford managed to get Barrymore off the legal hook. God himself couldn’t resuscitate his TV career. If you can imagine Peewee Hermann raised to the power of Michael Jackson you are getting close.

Anyway, back to Jade Goody… I’m just finding the coverage surreally obscene. Clifford has actually been asked if he’s planning on selling the footage of the actual moment of her death. He isn’t but the fact that such a thing was even mooted is beyond rational comprehension.

And also weird. Just bizarre. Mainly because it has involved rewriting history. Because the history of Jade Goody is infinitely malleable and has been since she first shot to “celeb status” when on Big Brother she “got her kebab out”. Jade Goody is a quantum. The tabloids have vacillated between “Good ol’ Jade, sound as a pound cockney sparrow” and “Jade Goody, foul mouthed racist idiot who is denser than a neutron star and an utter slag”. Sometimes simultaneously. It is beyond rational comprehension. Jade Goody is famous for three things. Making an arse of herself on Channel Four’s Big Brother, making a racist arse of herself on Celebrity Big Brother (which she was only on because she made an arse of herself on Big Brother – this is getting absurdly self-referential and therefore non-linear) and dying of cervical cancer. What the hell does anyone make of that? Well a bundle of sponds if you’re Max Clifford. But I dunno. Which is why I am typing this drivel and not Max Clifford’s press releases and living high on the hog.

The dim bint on the BBC this morning said to Clifford something very odd. She said “Jade is getting her fairytale wedding”. OK. I can understand why Ms Goody wants to marry her boyf. Absolutely. But “fairytale”? OK. I can understand the pretence as far as Ms Goody and her friends and family are concerned. I really can. Life dealt her a truly lousy deck and I hope she has a marvellous day. But “fairytale”? They usually have a marriage towards the end and close with the line, “And they all lived happily ever after”. When you consider Jade Goody has eight weeks that is verging on sick. And of course Jack Tweed, the groom, is hardly Prince Charming. He is out on a tag after having done time for GBH for twatting a kid with a golfing racket. This is not a fairytale. This is a terminally ill woman marrying a lag on a tag. I’m not slagging her off for that. If she loves him and he loves her then it is fitting that her final weeks are within the bounds of marriage. And flogging the exclusive rights to LivingTV and Hello! is, I guess, OK (not them too?) to because that will provide for her sons but…

Whilst in principle there is nothing wrong with any of this it is still tackier than page 3 of the Sun in a builder’s outdoor convenience. But more than that it is utterly odd. The whole story elicits empathy for someone who’s life story is so utterly different from mine that I have none. I have sympathy. I cannot have empathy. Moreover my sympathy for Jade Goody is sincere. It is not based upon some ersatz Ricki Lake idea that I “share her pain”. I don’t. I can’t imagine her pain. I have absolutely no idea what she is going through. I wish “proper” journalists would show the humility to appreciate that they can’t either. But that is another way in which Jade Goody is quantum. She is the victim (by a certain reading) of a tabloid feeding-frenzy but (by a different but equally valid reading) those sharks have provided for her her dying wish – a lavish wedding (which I do not begrudge her) and a load of cash for her kids (which nobody could begrudge).

I have no idea what I think beyond that. Like those tabloids which have swung violently between Jade=Evil and Jade=Good I am beyond knowing anymore.

All I know is that Ms Goody is dying of a fucking horrible disease and that her death is strangely like her life.

I shall leave the last word to my wife:

“Finally they have made a snuff movie”.

13 Comments

  1. mandrill says:

    There is alot to dislike about Jade Goody, but her normailty is not one of them. She is not Gwyneth Paltrow, Angeline Jolie, or Madonna by any means but this doesn’t belittle what she is going through. The fact that she is a bit thick, a bit racist, and (dare I say it) a bit common, just goes to show that she is really just like everyone else. In all but her opportunities, Jade could be just about anyone. The veneer of presentability which surrounds most celebrities (which is what makes the press jump on any flaw, no matter how trivial) is simply not there with Ms Goody. Jade is a collection of flaws, a tapestry of human failings which everyone has but most celebrities hide with expensive PR. But then we all have these flaws and to aspire to the false perfection of celebrity is a fools errand. Jade is neither good nor evil, she is merely human and we should remember that before we judge her. The labels are meaningless and are used by the media to oversimplify a complex and difficult person for consumption by the masses.

    Thousands of women go through exactly what Ms Goody is going through every year, unseen, unknown, and quietly swept under the rug, and the real tragedy is that they don’t have to. I have a grudging admiration for Jade, to go through the terminal phases of such an awful disease in public takes a lot of courage. If you can see past the involvement of Mr Clifford (who I hope is doing this pro-bono, or at least donating his fee to a relevant charity, but thats up to him) what you will see is a dying woman trying to do the best she can for her family in the only way she has left to her.

    As a side effect her suffering will highlight what actually happens in the terminal stages of cancer. We know intellectually what this entails but Jade is giving us front row seats, not allowing us the luxury of hiding from it. There is no such thing as dignity in death, but we can die well, facing our end with courage and determination. Looking past all the trappings of Hello and OK this is exactly what Jade is doing and I am grateful for it. I can only hope that if I were in a similar position I would face it with as much courage.

    As to your wife’s comment: this is not a snuff movie. This is not a movie made to profit from a persons perverse desire to see someone die in a horrible and painful way. This is the documentation of the end of someone’s life, the revelation of a horrible and preventable death which happens to too many women. This is a record of an event which could be happening to anyone which no-one has the guts to face up to. For too long the terminal stages of cancer have been private and hidden affairs. I can see the uptake of the HPV vaccinations rising and donations to cancer research charities going through the roof as a result of Jade’s unflinching bravery. It may not be her primary motive, but that doesn’t matter, that it will be a side effect is enough. Like Fitna, the events which unfold may be distasteful and disturbing, but they need to be seen.

  2. gobsmacked says:

    whilst I agree with your comments mostly, I am shocked at the term snuff movie. Totally uneccessary. I cannot even contemplate that Jade is considering filming her death. Your last words as intended have impacted.

  3. RAB says:

    This is, I believe, what is called a “Human Interest” story.
    Well This human just aint interested.

    I have known a lot of of people who died of cancer, quietly and with dignity.
    What the hell is dignified about this Media circus?

    We have a stange psychosis in Britain that most of our children have a burning ambition to be famous, but appear to want to skip the hard part of actually aquiring some skills and talent that will lead to fame and being rightly singled out from the herd, and cut right to the big bucks and red carpet parties.

    Jade is famous for going on Big Brother. No doubt she won because those dim enough to watch saw in her a reflection of themselves and voted accordingly.

    However, as Mandrill said, the best that can come out of this is that it will pump some cash into Cancer research.
    I really wouldn’t want to be her two children. This is very likely to blight the rest of their lives.

  4. JuliaM says:

    “He is undeniably very good at what he does.”

    But what he does isn’t very nice. To borrow a catchphrase…

  5. JuliaM says:

    “As a side effect her suffering will highlight what actually happens in the terminal stages of cancer. We know intellectually what this entails…”

    A lot of us have had friends, relatives, etc that have gone through it. We know it more than ‘intellectually’. We don’t need to have it as the top story on News 24…

  6. mandrill says:

    @JuliaM, no, you don’t need to have the ugly facts of what death by cervical cancer does to a person brought to you as the top story on News 24. You who know it ‘more than intellectually’, as hard as it may be to accept, are in the minority. The majority of people have no idea and no understanding of what Jade (and thousands of others) will go through in their last few weeks of life. They may know a friend of a friend, or a distant relative, who has suffered as Jade is suffering, but they will not have had close personal contact with the process, they won’t have seen it happening. If the last thing Jade Goody does is to open their eyes and minds to the needless suffering caused by this preventable disease then is it not worth having her on News 24?

  7. JuliaM says:

    “If the last thing Jade Goody does is to open their eyes and minds to the needless suffering caused by this preventable disease then is it not worth having her on News 24?”

    Do you think the people who’ll watch this car-crash tv will be thinking about disease prevention? It’s just another sideshow, a 21st century trip to Bedlam to gawp at the inmates, with added celebrity-chic thrown in.

    Like RAB above, I wonder what her children are going to think, when they are old enough to watch this tawdry spectacle?

  8. Nick M says:

    JuliaM,

    Good point about Jade’s kids.

    I just popped to the corner shop. The Mirror have the story covering the entire front page. They are not alone but they are calling it the “wedding of the decade”.

    I disagree. That was in 2006 and it was mine. I’m not being self-centred here but it is the most important wedding I’ve been involved with. Obviously.

    As far as Mandrill’s awareness raising schtick… up to a point. There will be a “have a smear test for Jade” campaign and all of that and queues of women sporting bald “wigs” stretching round the block of GP’s surgeries. But the NHS guidelines for Pap smears are once every three years and in a lot less time than that nobody will remember any of this insane circus. Or if they do it will be in the same sense they recall a nightmare from a week ago.

    Do I dare do the bloody obvious? Compare Terry Pratchett and Jade Goody. I have seen documentaries about both recently and it is difficult to believe they are the same species.

    Or how about this. Lets imagine you are a university or Pharma cancer drug researcher. Let’s say you pioneered something very useful. How would you feel about some dim-witted bint being treated like a sodding national heroine?

    Or to put it yet another way. Who has the greater name recognition – Jade Goody or Georgios Papanikolaou? Who deserves it?

    And no Anonymous. It is a snuff movie. It is utterly obscene. I don’t blame Jade Goody. I blame our deranged culture of celebrity because this is quite literally the end game of celebrity. It reminds me of a Brian Aldiss short story in which some geezer decapitates himself on live TV amidst a rolling media frenzy. It reminds me of William Gibson’s Slitscan. It also reminds me of the collective wailing and gnashing of teeth over Diana.

    When Diana popped her clogs someone wrote to The Times (The Times!) a letter saying that Di and Mother Tereasa would now be in heaven together. Well if that Froggy bloke is right and hell is other people that sounds like hell to me. It is difficult to think of two people with less in common. We have a collective media disengagement from reality which is staggering. Who was that geezer who declared that Gulf War I didn’t really happen because it happened on TV? He had a point.

  9. Nick M is right about Terry Pratchett. He talked about the ghastly situation with Alzheimer’s with real honesty. I learned something by watching it.

    It is terrible that a 27-year-old mother will not live out the year to see her children grow up. I find the whole media/Big Brother circus completely revolting, but in my heart of hearts I cannot feel anything but sympathy for this person.

    On a practical point, this issue should prompt women to get a regular smear test done and insist on such tests from their doctors.

  10. Nick M says:

    JP,
    I used the word “quantum”. I meant it. It’s a wave/particle thing. I feel nothing but sympathy for the real live woman Jade Goody but nothing but revulsion at the media construct of the same name.

    On your practical point. Well, yes, obviously. But it shouldn’t come to that. Women ought to do it anyway. And as far as encouraging women to do it… Well… the most important person for that is the practise nurse or OG/GYN or whatever. From women I have known the biggest put off is the NHS’s collection of ham-fisted oafs. Not all of them. Some are very good but some aren’t and I have known girls left in tears of frustration, annoyance and pain by the tender ministrations of medics from the “Glorious Soviet Tractor Factory 47″ school of heavy engineering.

    And understandably, when the letter drops turns up those girls who were “mauled”* tend to ignore it.

    *Exactly what a girl of my aquaintance once said.

  11. Chalcedon says:

    Or of course Jane Goody, according to The Bottler. Love her or hate her, I think she will encourage more women to take smear tests and read and act on the results.

  12. RAB says:

    Nick, you invited some of us via email recently to guest an article on here.
    I would love to, when I find a topic that I can get my teeth into.
    I would have done one about Gail Trimble, the captain of Corpus Christi College Oxford, who have just won Univeristy Challenge, almost single handedly down to Gail and her astonishing general knowledge and modesty.

    I find that the poor woman is being vilified all over the place, for being a clever clogs, smug etc(actually I thought her quite shy) but I cant do better than this article by Melanie Phillips which compares and contrasts the Circus surrounding Jade Goody and her.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1154145/MELANIE-PHILLIPS-What-mob-really-hates-Gail-Trimble-glowing-self-confidence.html

    I used to play in a quiz league a few years ago. It was the oldest in Britain, but is now defunct due to lack of interest (we only played for the fun, intellectual rigour and a few book tokens). It was University Challenge level stuff, not the sort of thing you get down your local, and I kind of miss it.

    The story reveals why this country is going down the crapper at speed.

  13. [...] said my piece on Ms Goody or more particularly the media circus (ring master – Max Clifford esq) a while back and [...]

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