I Go Watch Big Brother then!

Britain is abuzz with Big Brother, and the treatment Shilpa Shetty is receiving from some of country's gossip-column celebrities. It is an ungainly, nasty affair. But it is not unusual. The word 'bitching' was not coined for nothing, and bullying and bad behaviour is the order of the day.

The things took a nasty turn as this became the fight of Shilpa versus the ladies of the house. And, yes, they were not nice at all. They could not pronounce Shilpa's name. This is commonplace though. It is usual for someone local not to be able to pronounce another person's alien name, though a reciprocal behaviour is considered to be offensive. It went to such extent Shilpa started getting called 'the Indian', and slowly this led to comments about Indians in general. Not surprisingly, a huge international row about racism ensued.

To me, racism is a non-issue. Well, unlike what people may be led to believe and say, it is there. And, let it be there. It allows some individuals, in a crisis of identity, to have something to cling to. A false superiority is fine as long as it is false, and keeps the individual blind and ignorant.

Before I get charged with racist abuse, let me explain. Channel 4, the broadcaster, is making a point that it isn't racism, it is cultural ignorance. Take this, for example. One of the participants refused to eat Chicken cooked by Shilpa Shetty because 'in India, they undercook the chicken, and hence so many Indians are undernourished'. Or, 'in India, they eat with hands; or is it China'. Surely ignorance - from Celebrities, to be showcased before an admiring public at the Prime time.

Somewhat in line with the queen who suggested cake to hungry public, Jo! But I dont blame you. Yours is exemplary behaviour, to be showcased for fun and excused for ignorance only. Your friends say you are not a 'bad person'. Well, of course, you are not. It seems everyone wants to forget that racism is a social, rather than individual, malaise. It is about ignorance in the core, and not about being a bad person.

That's my point. This huge debate is going nowhere, but watch it and you see what's wrong. Channel 4 does not feel ashamed about showcasing such ignorance, but will run for cover if some particular, labelled words would have been used. Yes, racism in our time is pedantic, it is about playing with words, it is about being safe and correct in the public face. You can't expect to put a camera in the bathroom and can't not have a scandal on your lap.

It is funny time, so watch the fun. A show is being put on. By the dumb CEO of Channel 4 and squeaking TV presenters who never valued decency. A bollywood actress doing her best in what she does best - act. A gang of C-list of celebs trying their best to be what they want to be - celebs. A boring TV show probably nailing the reality show coffin. Politicians who would rather point the blame to individuals, and hide the wider social malaise. And, the media - who would rather spend time analysing what is ignorance and where it becomes racism.



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