Monday, January 22, 2007

Big Brother: Shilpa Vs Jade, Dignity Vs Fame and money

The recent series of Big Brother a reality show on Chanel 4 has managed to create international controversy and of course greater viewing figures for an ailing show and brand which after many years is well on its way past its sell by date.

The current series started with the introduction of well known celebrities from the west, and to create interest and perhaps the odd conflict they chose the Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty. True to form much interest and viewers was received from the Indian community and many other fans of Indian films, which includes many Muslims.

As usual being cramped into a house together is a recipe for some greate ntertainment and tantrums from all the house mates competing for the £ 100 000 prize, and trying hard not to be nominated for eviction by the great British public and therefore acting in a very fake and artificial manner.

Recently the show was performing badly in terms of viewing figures, and soon afterwards Big Brother which edits the tapes for the whole show and sometimes censors inappropriate content such as Jermaine Jackson praying to Allah in this series, decided to show scenes where Jade used language which can only be described as offensive towards Shilpa and told her to go back to
India, called her “Shilpa popadom”, a reference to her Indian origin, there were other things she said but these are the salient and controversial points.

Since these scenes were shown the complaints from people in the UK flooded in, about 30 000+ , newspapers started discussing the alleged racism, radio phone ins as well and bullying help lines also witnessed a rise in calls, oh of course viewing figures doubled as well. The Indian Government also jumped in and coerced Gordon Brown who was on a visit to apologise and make a statement about condemning racism, quite funny their has been no official apology from the British Government about the illegal invasion of Iraq based on lies and sexed up dossiers. India as the new industrial superpower needs to be pleased and kept sweet it seems.

So it is correct to say that Big Brother and the alleged racism has become a topic of conversation at least in the UK and everyone has opinions on it, which for a society like the UK where half the people don’t even bother to vote for a Government of their choice is actually very good, it’s a pity they are discussing something shallow and irrelevant, but then again at least it’s a start.

Much of the discussion is focussed primarily on the way Shilpa has been treated by Jade and others, and the complaints address this point as well.

Jade is behaving in a way which she considers to be normal for her, and said things which she only regrets because of fear of prosecution, loss of sponsorships and being labelled a racist. As we all know from experience even the most ardent racist says “I’m not a racist, I got lots of coloured mates, and I support Arsenal “.

I would like us all to imagine being in Shilpa’s position and Jade swearing at us, being aggressive and racist. What would we as Muslims do?

Stay and accept this treatment or leave voluntarily as two other people on the current series have already done?

What is more important Dignity or Money?

I am absolutely certain that Shilpa has been called much worse by the Indian media, who delight in digging up all manner of dirt from the family closets and displaying it on the front pages for public consumption, which cannot get enough gossip about their favourite stars, who seem to have replaced the many clay idols which the Hindus have as Gods and whose pictures they have
on their walls.

Also a lot has been made about the dispute being a class one and on this I would like to add that in the Indian sub-continent respectable families do not allow their daughters to enter the film industry and respectable families do not want Bollywood actresses for their daughter in laws, not in real life anyway.

Maybe in India, being the worlds largest Secular democracy, things maybe changing in terms of how these actresses are viewed, but in Muslim Pakistan and Bangladesh actresses are perceived as being little better than prostitutes; ok as a mistress but definably not as a wife. So she has been called much worse and accepts that it does indeed go with the territory, after all fame and money do not come cheap even if u do enter a cheap profession, where the better liar you are the more convincing you appear, and maybe her behaviour on this show is all part of an act.

Contrast how Jermain Jackson would have reacted if he was abused in this manner. Being a Muslim who has continued to observe his prayers regardless of what anybody thinks or says. We can assume that he would not have allowed himself to be insulted because Islam forbids a Muslim from accepting abuse or racism and the Muslims who read this article will agree with me.

Millions of Indians in the UK and India itself have phoned and even burnt effigies of Big Brother, to show the level of displeasure and anger they felt. Question is, does Shilpa being an Indian not feel the same and why hasn’t she left of her own accord, after all dignity and honour cannot have a price put on them.

Maybe I am approaching it from an Islamic perspective where honour and dignity is to be protected at all cost regardless of the financial loss.

These shows are full of deceit and deception and on many occasions the participants have been deceived and humiliated. So why can we not assume that all this dispute between Shilpa and Jade is in fact part of the plot and storyline and conveniently is acted when the viewing figures have taken a nose dive and the public is being taken for a ride?

Shilpa makes a serious allegation of being discriminated against by Jade then withdraws her comments at a later date to perhaps defuse the drama and look foolish in the process, just like the boy who cried Woolf.

In conclusion people are offended by Jades behaviour when we all know that this type of behaviour is very common in this society and in the workplace. Over the last few years I have lost count of the number of news articles, TV programs and comments from western politicians which has vilified and demonised Islam.

The only people who complained or protested in large numbers were Muslims, and even for protesting we were vilified. It seems we are expected to keep quite and just accept the abuse and slander meted out to us in the name of freedom of speech and expression, but if an Indian, Hindu, Bollywood actress is insulted the In-coming Prime Minister and other senior British
politicians have to issue apologies and condemnations.

I suppose India being a Secular state which has no ambitions for ever threatening or spreading its way life is not seen as a threat, whereas the Islamic ideology is seen as a threat “whose adherents are working to establish the Caliphate from Morocco to Indonesia “[George Bush Jnr and later quoted by Tony Blair]

Showkat Ali

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