The British media is engaged at the moment in a bizarre deathwatch of a reality TV star, Jade Goody, who is about to die of cancer. Goody stepped into the media spotlight six years ago as a participant in the reality TV show, Big Brother. She became a national figure of ridicule for her gauche ways. For a while she was the celebrity that everybody loved to hate. Now, however, the tenor of the coverage of Goody, who has two young sons, has changed as she faces death. She has a notorious British publicist, Max Clifford, who has been doling out updates to the British press, like this one, which ran today in the Daily Telegraph.
Jade Goody tells sons she will be ‘a star in the sky’ when she dies
Jade Goody has told her young sons she will soon be a “star up in the sky” looking over them, according to Max Clifford, her publicist.
Here’s a great round up of the story in the New York Times, which addresses the strange kind of media creation Goody is.
This is reality television carried out to its most extreme, grotesque conclusion, one not even envisioned in the film “The Truman Show” all those years ago. The question of why, exactly, the story is so compelling — how to negotiate the line between poignant and voyeuristic, whether newspapers are exploiting Ms. Goody or she is exploiting them — has twisted the media into knots, even as they provide daily updates on Ms. Goody’s deteriorating condition and state of mind.
They are motivated partly by guilt. Many newspapers have been intermittently nasty about Ms. Goody, holding her up as a sorry symbol of vulgarian, instant-gratification Britain, “someone who achieved a sort of fame for having displayed her incalculable stupidity on television,” as Rod Liddle wrotein The Spectator. Some people even suggested at first, as have many anti-Jade sites on the Internet, that she did not really have cancer but was just trying to get publicity.
Now that she is dying, many of the same papers are now squirming with unease at their collusion in the endless building up, knocking down and exploitation of a woman they always counted on to increase their own sales.