Archive for March, 2009

Jade Goody – A Morbid Obsession

Posted in Jade Goody with tags , , , on March 23, 2009 by jacquesrenault

In Dubai, some will have noticed that the media fuelled Jade Goody phenomenon has permeated our consiousness. In fact, there are seemingly very few spots in the world which have not been sucked in to this very sad story about the slightly intellectually challenged girl from a poor area in the east end of London. Micheal Jackson apparently left a voicemail message for her, prior to her death on Sunday morning.

The obssession with Jade Goody stands out from our more innocent adulation of the stars of today. I can understand, the Bragelina or Paris Hilton thing. People will lose themselves in OK, Ahlan, TMZ in order to create a fantasy to liven up lives which can become both mundane and uninspiring. For those moments when you’re reading the glossy mag you can imagine being that beautiful, that rich, that popular.

The interest in jade Goody is far more sinister. Jade was brought up by two drug addicted parents in the poorest area of London. Her mother is a lesbian and her father died of a drug overdose in 2006.
When Jade first appeared on the UKs Big Brother, she was ridiculed in the press because of her seemingly non existent knowledge of the outside world. When she made a racist remark on live telly she was descibed in the Sun as being ”a vile, pig-ignorant, racist bully”.

The obssesion with jade is not driven by an urge to aspire to be that person. Rather, the fascination is motivated by a kind of voyeristic attraction similar to the Victorian obsession with the elephant man. She was a freak that you could stare at, and then thank to the heavens that you weren’t like her. The last few days lying on her death bed were the final act of a show in which everyone tuned in to see the latest instalment of the morbid show. Her death brought down the curtain on a very revealing episode which says a lot about what the general public (particularly in the UK) are really driven by when immersing themselves in the worlds of celebrities.

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Apathy in the UAE

Posted in Censorship with tags , , , , , on March 1, 2009 by jacquesrenault

One particular topic that has been reverberating around the UAE in the past weeks has been the issue of freedom of speech and censorship. First it was the new media law being passed which seemingly sent out a confused message of both supporting journalistic freedom but at the same time indicating that if any writer steps out of line then they can be punished with fines of up of 500,000 dirhams. And then last week, a new row erupted over a book that had apparently been banned from the Dubai Literary festival because it made reference to a gay sheihk. Alot of misunderstanding followed, particualrly between the organisers and Margaret Atwood but the exciting thing that transpired was that there would be new slot at the festival to discuss the importance of free speech in a civilised society. A big step forward.

I went. Seemingly nobody else in Dubai did. Admittedly it was at 9 am on a saturday but the turn out was pretty shocking. This was the one chance to make strides in relation to what people (particularly in the media) have been saying about freedom of speech in Dubai. The really sad thing was that this is clearly a discussion that the outside world feels is of importance. I noticed in the half empty conference room, Kate Aidie (the bbc reporter, Ian Hislop (private eye editor and TV personality) and other authors from the festival. The reason for peoples absence I can only put down to apathy. If you live in a country that constantly wears people down with the limiting of your democratic rights but fattens them up by paying them more than they would in their home countries, you cant be surprised if the inhabitants end up not truely feeling as passionate about things as they normally would.