While most people in Britain spent today, Mothering Sunday, making dinner for their mums and giving them presents, Bobby Jack, 5, and Freddy, 4, said goodbye to theirs.
A quick glance at the news pages of the BBC, The Sun, The Guardian, The Times, The Independent, The Mail, The Express and even CNN would have been enough to tell you that infamous reality TV star Jade Goody passed away early this morning due to cervical cancer, aged 27.
If you don’t know it already, the quick-guide to her fascinating time in the media started with her appearance in 2002 on Big Brother in which her astounding “lack of general knowledge” (as most news outlets so tactfully put it) gained her the public’s affection and put her on the path to fame. But on Celebrity Big Brother in 2007 she became a national hate figure due to her bullying and allegedly racist remarks about fellow contestant and Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty. Then during her third big brother appearance, on the Indian version of the show, she was told that she had cervical cancer.
She has been on a media frenzy during the last few months of her life, with the money raised to go to her sons. Her media presence has had a beneficial impact on the amount of women getting routine check-ups: Julietta Patnick, director of NHS screening programmes, said some laboratories saw a 20 per cent increase in screening, others even 50 per cent thanks in part to the “Jade-effect”.
But while I do not fault Jade for wanting to raise money for her children’s future after her passing, I am doubtful if the media should ever have given this so much attention. Noel Gallagher (admittedly not exactly the moral authority himself) called the press coverage “embarassing for Britain”. In part I agree, why must we give Jade any special attention? It is a sad situation and while I have nothing against her, I don’t see the need to keep going on about her case.
The fact that soon her demise will be broadcast on the Sky Channel Living also seems somewhat unnecessary and grotesque. Maybe she didn’t mind her privacy being invaded in this way, but there’s some things that just don’t need to be in front of the camera lens.
While the impact on screenings for cervical cancer are admirable, I think the media’s transfixed gaze on this case is unnecessary. That aside, I give out my condolences to Jade’s two boys and all her friends and family.