You can always gauge what’s big news in the
In addition to being raised in the UK House of Commons, noted by
Fellow Desicritic Sakshi feels that the issue is one of bitchiness, not racism. I would however, beg to differ. The issue isn’t just that Shetty is being subjected to intimidation – that much is obvious. The issue at stake here is that for whatever reasons that might have caused the coven that have ganged up against Shilpe to have developed a dislike for her, they are choosing to act on that by picking on things that are blatantly racist. To refuse to identify her by her name, to generalise about Indians as a whole on the basis of their interactions with her, to tell her to “f*****g go back home”, and to “go back to the slums” is nothing if not racist. The motivations behind making those statements may or may not be racist – that is not what I question at this point. However, the manner in which the feelings of the coven are verbalised is definitely racist, and as a consequence totally unacceptable.
Unfortunately, Channel 4 seems to have decided that it will try to milk the controversy for all its worth, and by trying to adopt an attitude of feeding clippings to the public that will fuel the controversy are trying to milk the situation for all the viewership ratings it can get.
There have been some discussions of whether Shetty needs to be more aggressive in her reactions to statements from the coven. Funnily enough, when I hear that, I remember something that my mother told me when growing up – that by reacting to people in their language, you only reduce yourself to their level, and that does you no favours. Shetty has shown incredible restraint, resilience and much more class than any of her persecutors.
I only wonder how long it’s going to be before things get so ugly that external intervention is required. I am amazed that the producers of the show can sit back and let the behaviour that is rampant in the house continue without doing anything about it. I struggle to think how far this can go – will we need to see Shetty physically attacked by the deranged coven before they intervene? (Though given that she’s a black belt in karate, I wouldn’t mind seeing her kick some chav a**)
But what is worth investigating in some detail is what drives this victimisation of Shety. Perhaps not surprisingly, it probably stems from the insecurities that she creates in the coven. But more importantly, those insecurities are driven by the fact that she does not fit the classical stereotype of what South Asian/Indian women are truly like. British media and culture have incredibly static stereotypes of what Asian women are supposed to be like, and very few women have managed to take those stereotypes on. Her jamawar draped figure is in contrast to the standard Goodness Gracious Me or The Kumars & No. 42 imagery of slightly dumpy middle-aged women, who are neither glamorous nor sexy, and therefore non-threatening if you’re an aspiring beauty queen. She is incredibly articulate, but while this is okay if you’re a BBC newsreader or reporter (e.g. Nisha Pillai) it is at complete odds if you’re a
To top everything else off, Shetty isn’t even consonant with the only image of a glamorous South Asian woman – Amber (played by Laila Rouass) in Footballers’ Wives; a character that is sexy and incredibly intelligent, but nasty, shrewish, conniving and vicious (“a Bollywood freak show” is one of the terms used to describe Amber’s less than savoury character)
Unfortunately, Shetty fits none of the stereotypes currently available to the
So we have four disgusting, ill-mannered (and dare I say it, ill-bred) scumbags ganging up on a woman who is much better educated, more talented and classier than all of them put together, and try to “take her down” a few pegs. Unfortunately, the policy has backfired on them, and the sort of dislike generated in the majority of viewers should hopefully see all of them evicted sooner rather than later.
The only positive in this entire fiasco is that for a change, the blatant racism has not gone unnoticed.
Check out fellow blogger Sunny's comments on Shilpa and the star narrative here
Also check out The Times weblog on Big Brother here - I love India Knight!!