World Racism Watch

The corner of Nanjing and Fuxing Rd. in Taipei, Taiwan. Taken on the 20th of January 2007 with a Nikon D200 and a 18-35mm lens. Part of the CMBRT Series 1.

There has been quite a controversy stiring over the last few days over the racist comments that have been aired in Channel 4’s Celebrity Big Brother show in the UK. All of them have been directed against Shilpa Shetty, a Bollywood starlet. She has been called a dog and other racial slurs on air in this celebrity show.

There has been an uproar from the Indian community in Britain, as well as from India. It has been so controversial, that diplomats have become involved.

From the Khaleej Times:

Jade Goody, the British reality TV star who became a millionaire for her on-air antics and spin-off earnings, may have seen her career destroyed by the very show that made her.

The 25-year-old former dental nurse was accused of racism and bullying for her treatment of Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty on ‘Celebrity Big Brother’, and was evicted by public vote on Friday after her remarks hit headlines around the world.

It was on the non-celebrity version of the same series in 2002 that she first rose to fame, lampooned for her perceived stupidity and yet quickly championed by the mass-circulation media as a straight-talking ‘girl from next door’.

Famous for little more than being famous, Goody nevertheless went on to amass a fortune estimated at 8 million pounds ($15.8 million) from deals with celebrity magazines, an autobiography and a top-selling perfume, ironically called ‘Shh…’.

Now Britons are wondering whether the country’s most successful reality TV personality can bounce back.

Goody is well aware of the uphill struggle facing her.

‘It was the beginning of my career and it’s the end of my career,’ she said after being told of her eviction.

The comeback bid has already begun with a long and tearful interview with top-selling tabloid ‘News of the World’, in which Goody apologised repeatedly.

‘I’m not a racist, but I accept I made racist comments,’ she said in the interview, also aired on satellite television. ‘She (Shetty) was a victim of bullying and racism, yes. It’s my own fault for not knowing enough about other people’s cultures.’

From Bloomberg UK:

The Indian government said it’s probing allegations of racism on the U.K. reality television program “Celebrity Big Brother” after complaints that Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty is being abused by other contestants.

The Indian High Commission in London will hold an inquiry into the show, Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi said in a report on the government’s Web site.

India rejects “all forms of discrimination and racism,” Anand Sharma, the country’s junior foreign minister, told reporters yesterday. “We will take appropriate action as necessary.” The Foreign Ministry “has taken up the matter” with the U.K. government through British diplomats in New Delhi, spokesman Navtej Sarna said.

The program on the U.K.’s Channel 4, in which people are filmed 24 hours a day living together, has prompted a record 19,300 complaints to the U.K. broadcasting regulator Ofcom. Other contestants have mocked the star’s accent and background and called her “the Indian” and a “dog.”

Protesters marched down a street in Patna, eastern India yesterday chanting “Down with Big Brother” and burned a straw and paper figure representing the show’s producers in effigy, the Associated Press reported.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, who is touring India to boost U.K. trade and investment, said he heard numerous complaints about the show and expressed concern it could damage Britain’s image as a tolerant country.

“I have had more questions from local people here about this and I think there is a legitimate concern,” Brown said, in comments broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corp. “I think we want to send the message, as I know most British people do, that we are a nation of fairness and tolerance.”

The controversy began after Goody, her boyfriend Jack Tweed, her mother Jackiey Budden, model Danielle Lloyd and singer Jo O’Meara, ganged up on Shetty.

Budden asked if she lived in a shack, O’Meara said Indians were thin because they undercooked their food and Tweed suggested Shetty clean a toilet with her teeth.

U.K. Labour lawmaker Keith Vaz entered a motion in Parliament condemning Shetty’s treatment and calling on Channel Four to take “urgent action.” He raised the issue during Prime Minister Tony Blair’s weekly question and answer session with lawmakers yesterday.

Blair said he hadn’t seen the program so couldn’t comment. “But I agree entirely with the principle that we should oppose racism in all its forms,” the prime minister said.

“Matters of bullying or racial abuse in any form are taken extremely seriously by Channel 4 and Endemol” Channel Four Corp. spokeswoman Claudia Christie said in an e-mailed statement. Hilversum, Netherlands-based Endemol NV produces the show.

“The nature of the show includes incidents where conflicts arise and housemates are encouraged to resolve issues among themselves. Shilpa herself has not voiced any concerns of racial slurs or bullying against her,” Christie said yesterday.

From the Hindoustani Times:

While Shilpa Shetty is now smiling, Celebrity Big Brother show that catapulted her to limelight may be in for difficult times.

The Channel 4 board is meeting in London on Monday to decide if it is worth continuing the reality show in the light of the embarrassing row over the allegedly racist abuses targeted at the Indian actor.

Several members of the board, chaired by former Pizza Express head Luke Johnson, believe that Jade Goody’s comments on Shilpa have so discredited the show that it is harming the channel besides damaging race relations in Britain, the Sunday Times reported.

“Does this sort of programme still hold up today?” a senior board member was quoted as asking. “Britain’s race relations are still pretty fragile, so we must be very careful.”

While the show was criticised last year when Pete Bennett, a sufferer of Tourette syndrome, was subjected to denigrating comments, the Shilpa episode is the first time since Big Brother began in 2000 that any member of the board had publicly questioned if it needs to be axed.

The board members act as custodian of the channel’s public service role, and it would be the first time they will meet to discuss this show.

At Monday’s meeting, board members, including film producer Lord Puttnam, former BBC News head Tony Hall, dotcom entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox and Karren Brady of Birmingham City football club are expected to ask for a paper to explore what went wrong and to examine if the programme should be ended.

According to the Guardian, Channel 4 chief executive Andy Duncan will be forced to defend himself over the racism row.

On the show, Goody had last week referred to the Indian contestant as “Shilpa Poppadom” and made fun of her background.

The comments, however, did not go down well with the audience as television regulator Ofcom received 40,000 complaints against the show even as its viewership rose to 5.7 million by Thursday.

The row came to an end on Friday when 82 per cent of the Celebrity Big Brother viewers voted to evict Goody out of the show.

And from the BBC:

Channel 4 has denied warning Jade Goody about the reaction to her Big Brother appearance and coaching her before her eviction to minimise the damage.

There is widespread press speculation that Goody was briefed before leaving the house about the anger she caused.

I have not personally seen this incident, but it has definitely stirred up some controversy. I think that racist slurs have no place on television, or in any form of media. Anyways, it looks like Goody’s career might be over.

Who knows?

You decide!

* * * * *

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This post is part of a series on Racism.

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  2. Viva la revolucion or how racism is polarized by multiculturism
  3. Brutal racist attacks in Canada
  4. Racism Watch Canada
  5. Racism World Watch: Senator George Allen Is A Racist Biggot
  6. Kramergate Or How Michael Richards Is Just Another Racist Bigot
  7. World Racism Watch
  8. Racism And Reverse Racism In Taiwan For English Teachers






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