One of the hot topics of yesterday and today is the claim that the Bollywood actress, Shilpa Shetty, has been the victim of racist bullying by other members of the Celebrity Big Brother house. As Big Brother is not something I would normally watch, I wasn't aware of this, but being off sick yesterday gave me the opportunity to have a look for myself.
The programme itself has got to be one of the most degrading things ever to hit our TV screens. For a start, some of the "celebrities" are nothing of the sort. Out of those who have left, I knew who Leo Sayer was, but the journalist and rock singer were complete unknowns to me and the other was the mother of one of the other housemates!
Of those remaining I recognise Jermaine Jackson, Dirk Benedict and Cleo Rocos (I used to love The Kenny Everett Show) and I admit that the blonde girl who used to be in some pop group popular with children did look familiar - but the others? I didn't know anything about Shilpa either, but I am sure that as a Bollywood actress she is someone who is truly adored and followed by millions.
Added to this is the fact that nothing actually happens and one begins to wonder why anyone watches this tripe. From what I saw, most of the "action" consists of listening to the inane ramblings of very boring people. Whenever these people start to talk about anything that might be mildly interesting the producers cut the sound and show us pictures of things like CCTV cameras or pot plants! Fifteen minutes of that was enough for me - I had some paint to watch drying. How did TV ever get this bad?
It was only when I watched the "highlights" later in the evening that I got to see what all the fuss was about and I have to admit it was quite shocking - but was it racism? Because Shilpa is Indian, I think it's far too easy to jump to that conclusion and I am sure there are plenty of people who will be only too glad to do so for whatever reason, but what I saw wasn't strictly racism. At least not what I consider to be racism.
There is no doubt that there was a lot of bullying and bitching going on from a certain clique of young ladies and it may indeed be down to some subconscious racist instinct, but I've seen similar bullying and bitching by similar cliques of women in offices, factories and schools which has nothing to do with race - but with petty envy and jealousy.
The fact is that Shilpa Shetty is really quite famous and a true celebrity in her home country - while those in the clique are just a bunch of nobodies. Shilpa is also a vivacious, elegant and intelligent woman, while those in the clique are ignorant, unattractive, coarse and vulgar. As a successful Bollywood actress I expect that Shilpa is also quite talented, while the clique combined couldn't muster a talent worthy of the name. On top of all that, Shilpa can speak proper English while the clique can barely manage to string coherent sentences together.
The other point to this is the difference between those who are doing the bullying and those who are not. From what I saw, the clique that seem to be bullying Shilpa are the younger generation - the supposedly enlightened and tolerant youth of today, while those from my generation demonstrate far more tolerance, intelligence and reason. A damning indictment on modern British education if ever there was one - heaven knows what Dirk and Jermaine must make of Britain if this sorry bunch are supposed to represent us!
All in all, I agree that what is happening is disgraceful. It IS bullying and it is prejudice - but I personally believe it is bullying and prejudice out of envy and jealousy rather than racism. I may be wrong, but what I saw was nothing that I haven't seen before when the victim has been of the same race as those doing the bullying -and it's nearly always down to simple, cold envy.