Shilpa wins, will anything change?

As predicted by the markets, Shetty today won Celebrity Big Brother in the UK. The whole thing was a very big deal in some ways. It sparked intense debate in the UK and caused an international furore. Tony Blair weighed in, as did the mayor of London Ken Livingston, and at least six cabinet ministers including Gordon Brown, the man who is likely to become the next PM. The media coverage of the whole thing has been intense. It has resurrected Shetty’s career, and buried the careers of Danielle Lloyd and Jade Goody. English celebrities will probably be on their best behavior concerning issues of race for the near future, and broadcasters more careful about racist content.

Still – will this tempest in a teapot matter in a few months? Will it lead to any real changes for British Asians, or will it soon be forgotten?

Over at Pickled Politics Sunny directs our attention to an article earlier this week by Priyamvada Gopal in the Guardian. In it, the author raises a number of important questions. Firstly, how deep is our recently renewed ethnic solidarity:

For British Asians, the public display of familiar battles poked at raw wounds, inspiring large numbers to protest. I would feel a lot more excited about this apparent resurgence of anti-racist awareness if recent years had shown more evidence of a genuine activist spirit among us. Where were these tens of thousands of protesting voices when young Zahid Mubarak died at the hands of a white racist cellmate with whom he should not have been made to share a cell? When a few hundred Sikh women protested alone at discriminatory treatment by British Airways meal supplier Gate Gourmet? [Link]

How much of our response to Shetty’s treatment reflects class anxiety and aspirations?

India … is increasingly obsessed with disseminating the myth of the nation as fundamentally middle-class, professional and successful. The task has partly fallen on the feminine shoulders of India’s flourishing glamour industry.

This anxiety to belong to the global community of the economically successful explains Shilpa’s repeated protests that she is not from the “slums” and did not grow up on the “roadside”… Shilpa understands her task clearly: to show the world that India is really about beauty and entrepreneurial success, not slums and poverty. Losing neither time nor opportunity, India Tourism brought out a full-page ad last week … [Link]

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p>The author also asks, perceptively, whether the response to racist bullying drew, in part, on uncomfortable stereotypes of another sort:

Just as nauseating is the play-off between ugly white slags and beautiful Indian princesses – a familiar Orientalist male fantasy. An Independent editorial described a contest between “the low-life Ms Goody” and “a pampered Indian megastar of singular beauty” (that Shilpa is hardly a megastar is beside the point). Stuart Jeffries in the Guardian deplored “ugly, thick, white Britain” and “one imperturbably dignified Indian woman [displaying] the supposed British virtues of civility, articulacy and reserve”. Shilpa does deftly combine Orientalist fantasy and Lord Macaulay’s successfully realised Anglicist project of creating “a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English” in other ways.

A national debate on race relations needs to take place. But it must be more complex than the simple binaries and easy scapegoating provided by such mud-wrestling idiocies. All of us must take a good, hard look at racist practices and our own complicity in them. Let’s have done with the bullying on all sides. [Link]

It’s very hard for me to judge what actually went on. I’m sitting in the USA, getting second hand reports about what was happening in the contrived, manipulated and edited atmosphere of a Big Brother set thousands of miles away. So the whole thing is rather distant to me. While I’m thrilled that people overwhelmingly rejected bullying, my question is – what now?

84 thoughts on “Shilpa wins, will anything change?

  1. youtube videos of Shilpa winning and her interview here.

    I haven’t seen any of the CBB clips, but based only on the interview clip, its hard not to like her.

  2. Any bets as to who will be the next bollywood actress on CBB it comes around again???? Surely, they cannot do without bolly actresses now!!!!

  3. SWEET!!! I saw like 4 episodes of Big Brother while staying in london, unfortunately i left before i got to see who one. I was surprisingly impressed with how well she composed herself, only since i thought she was most likely a flake. I guess i was wrong.

  4. Grace under enormous pressure. I think it was important that she did this, and that the kind of “soft” racism so many Desis have put up with for so long and which is kept a dirty secret was held up for scrutiny, plus it was broadcast and everything, and everyone made nice in the end– quite an accomplishment. She did say she was not a princess, seemed taken aback and upset by that and definitely not enjoying it, and she did try to explain that she had been working for fifteen years to have what she has. Plus she was more or less just off the plane when she went into that– maybe was even jet lagged –so what she did was pretty amazing. I thought she was more grounded after the ordeal than before, which takes a bit of doing.

  5. I am just so proud of her, for the way she handled herself. She absolutely deserved to win. And if she makes the talk-show circuit, I know I won’t have to brace myself for what she might say. I won’t be cringing everytime she speaks, compared to Aishwarya, for example.

  6. Big Brother and the vacant, unfortunately-named Shilpa Shetty making it to the front page of every single paper I’ve read is very irritating. So irritating in fact, that here I am writing about it even though that means giving it exactly the sort of attention I firmly believe it doesn’t deserve. This incident follows the prescribed script. Racist shit happens. Person responsible for racist shit denies that it’s racist shit. General public goes nuts trying to figure out what to name it when a brown person in Britain is called a Paki, told to go back to the slums and fuck off home. Is it racism, classism, or better yet, cultural difference-ism? Frenzied discussions ensue. Socially-conscious Brits – you know, the kind who would never call a brown person a paki in public – are deeply embarrassed at how this ugly incident makes their multi-cultural, tolerant country look bad. Eloquent responses are quick to point out the historical roots of deep-seated bigotry and racism in Britain, and that it’s dangerous and ignorant to believe that Jade Goody’s attitude is an exception to the rule.

    [Best of all, Germaine Greer appears out of nowhere with her bizarre theory – Shilpa is clearly doing everything in her power to be as annoying as she can possibly be, so that people have no choice but to lash out with racism. You would think the big G’s got better things to do with her time than writing scintillating commentary on reality TV. Apparently not.]

    Jade Goody, bit slow on the uptake, finally starts realising how much trouble her enormously tacky ass is in. She apologises on television. Sort of like how Kramer from Seinfeld apologised after screaming “youÂ’re niggers” repeatedly to two black hecklers during his limp-dick comedy routine some months ago.His ‘apologyÂ’ actually made me laugh out loud, it was so funny: “I’m not a racist. That’s what’s so insane about this.” Anyway, from what I gather, JadeÂ’s slunk off to work on her issues against South-Asians, the Kramer-dude is, no doubt, still trying to understand how the n-word popped out of his mouth since heÂ’s clearly not A racist (thatÂ’s whatÂ’s so insane about this!), and mel baby – while heÂ’s not making films misrepresenting and brutalising Mayan culture – is probably in counseling with the friendly neighborhood rabbi because he “wants to heal” his anti-Semitic soul. Lovely.

    I guess the point I’m making is that all of the above thatÂ’s happened, even the good parts, is just not the point. It pisses me off that when it comes to racism, Big Brother is what gets all this attention. Who cares? Big Brother is designed to bring out the absolute cattiest, bitchiest, pettiest worst in people so if one is a regular watcher of that vile program, then being morally outraged when someone behaves in exactly the manner that makes one watch the show in the first place is total hypocrisy. There is something fundamentally damaged about people who love reality TV shows. My point is further proven by the fact that approximately three million more people than usual watched the episode after “the big race row.” Hello? The normal response, you would think, would be revulsion and a renewed hatred of all things big brother. Instead, the more the unpleasantness, the more popular the show becomes and the more money it makes – all the while, people keep shouting indignantly about how bad racism and prejudice is. It’s ludicrous.

  7. Speaking of reality shows, there is a theory that the Kramer hate-speech episode was staged. Even some of my friends who never think in terms of this sort thing, thought that might be the case. Richards is a mason, and hangs around with Jordan Maxwell, a long time student of esoteric and behind the scenes power trippers. These groups are not racist–quite the contrary. But they study how race and racism is used in society to manipulate people and events. At the time of the Kramer spew, hate law legislation was pending in Congress, that would prevent “hate” speech. It would cover any race apparently. There are those who say Richards was paid (his Seinfeld glory days are long gone) and the two black guys were also paid. Really, the whole thing looked so phony, in a way I can’t put my finger on. Also, about the only black person I have ever know to watch Seinfeld was from Guyana and said she was of Indian descent. So I wonder what two black fans were doing at a Kramer stand up anyway.

  8. keymaster – Interesting, I’ve never heard the staged theory before. But if these are really people who study how race and racism is used in society and the best they could come up with was that pathetic display, then I think they need to study a little harder :P Either way, the thing is inexcusable.

    mango pickle – oops…! :)

  9. keymaster – Interesting, I’ve never heard the staged theory before. But if these are really people who study how race and racism is used in society and the best they could come up with was that pathetic display, then I think they need to study a little harder”

    Hey–I’m with you. But you’re thinking like a sane, logical sort of person. Perhaps someone who expects things to make sense. Studying race and racism is not these folks’ raison d’etre; it is just a thread which they follow as needed. Staging events under a “false flag” is an old way to stir up trouble and get those you want on your side. It’s complicated and I don’t pretend to understand it totally, but I was startled to see Kramer in a photo with Jordan Maxwell. Let me put it more plainly–the concern in Congress and the media favoring anti-hate-speech laws, is not so much about black or white (or brown for that matter), but about antisemitism–or rather perceived antisemitism. But this is not the forum to get into all that. Maybe this is all wrong and the K-man really is a psycho with poor impulse control–his jerky body language does suggest problems in that direction. Like I said though, it looked staged and I have a nose for that kind of thing. So if I were laying bets, I’d bet somebody was paid off or made some sort offer he couldn’t refuse. Why? You’d be amazed at the kinds of things the puppet-masters do for serious or just for kicks.

  10. At the time of the Kramer spew, hate law legislation was pending in Congress, that would prevent “hate” speech. It would cover any race apparently. There are those who say Richards was paid (his Seinfeld glory days are long gone) and the two black guys were also paid.

    Interesting angle. Got any more links discussing this conspiracy theory?

  11. I think Brits have overdosed on Shilpa. I don’t think she will sell well in the advert world as a spokesman. She does overcome the curse of a bad looking schnozz rather well. Good to see an indian with the best figure in a group of internationals (so to speak)

  12. Interesting angle. Got any more links discussing this conspiracy theory?

    Good question. Prisonplanet.com with Alex Jones, talks about it. So does Rense.com –very controversial though. I investigate this sort of thing myself, but try to stay away from outright biased sites, because I just want the truth and don’t trust mainstream media to provide it. How can it, when its owned by half a dozen people who all know each other and get their money from corporate interests. Sometimes those with hard agendas take legitimate concerns about “conspiracies” and get rabid towards some group or other. Conspire just means “to breath together.” After all, the “official story” for 911 is just the mainstream conspiracy theory. Sorry to get off the track about Shilpa and her troubles.

  13. I saw the clips that were on as of yesterday, and one of the things that occured to me was how the whole episode seemed to illustrate that a pov which attributes racist impulses to dominance issues in a patriarchal society might be wrong, or at least incomplete, or incomplete to the extent that the ‘men’ needn’t be biological males for the pov to hold. Although I realize the cast of CBB was hardly representative of society at large, how come the racist issues didn’t start off as dominance fights among the men? Does this happen on other reality shows? (I haven’t seen any others). Of course, I haven’t seen the whole CBB show either, only the posted clips, but in those clips, the peacemakers seemed to be men, a traditionally female role. The cliques (‘proto-tribes’) seemed to be female centred. So from this pov, what (if anything) do people think the whole thing showed?

  14. Whether its revive Shetty’s flagging career in the hometown tinsel world or not, is a personal affair and dubious. What’s more important is the prevailing and practice of racism by the Westerners (especially USA and Europe). Years ago, a little woman wrote “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” to set the black revolution yet, Big Brother Show is an eye-opener. An apology is too lowly a term to defend the losing position and UK is at risk. I believe, Shetty’s win and Jade’s dismissal is a forcible entrust, since UK’s parliament need to save its honor: the sunshine smile (referring Shetty) returning with million-pound kitty as a gift from UK is not to be compensated against the hurt inflicted on us.

    Western world needs to look upon and re-invent themselves to make their own life and country a blissful place.

  15. You think the UK parlimant had anything to do with the outcome of Celebrity Big Brother, that is a thought too silly to entertain. It has been said before and it has to be said again, CBB is given way to much importance. Jade Goody was voted out of CBB because the british public, or more exactly those how follow reality shows, don’t like her, they could not care less about what Indians think about her.

  16. First of all, I have to commend my fellow Brit Red Snapper on his excellent posts on this topic during my weekly absence. I agree with him completely — well, except for the comments about Shilpa now becoming top of the pile back in Bollywood too (not necessarily). But the rest of Red Snapper’s thoughts are superb and I do support his views.

    I’d also like to thank Kush T, Amitabh and JOAT for their posts addressed to me on the previous Shilpa thread. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to keep you guys updated during the week — you know the reasons by now — but I’m really glad to see that you and Red Snapper have been holding the fort in the meantime. Great observations by all of you too.

    I’m not going to respond to some of the apologists on this blog (including the remarks by some individuals on the previous thread), but at least we know where their loyalites lie when a fellow Indian is being publicly eviscerated by a gang of racist thugs live on British television and the TV channel concerned is doing nothing to intervene. Even worse are the excuses which have been made to exonerate the tormentor’s responsibility for their actions. “Blame the victim” zindabad.

    As I said, RS and some others have made some superb observations and I don’t want to repeat what they’ve said since the points has already been eloquently made. But I can supplement this with the following: This issue has basically been about the fact that many English people (including, it seems, some “C-list celebrities”) really do think that they can casually disparage, attack, undermine and dismiss South Asians with impunity. Those of us who live in the UK have to deal with this crap every day — at school, at college, at work, on the streets, and until about 10-15 years ago (until this year’s CBB raised its ugly head), in the British media too.

    What happened to Shilpa is not unusual. Huge numbers of British South Asians, from both the older and the (mostly UK-born) younger generations, have gone through this for real, and in many cases they still have to deal with it. It happens all the time. There are unfortunately still many white Brits who see us as “conquered natives”; it’s all a legacy of the colonial era, and although times have generally moved on and the behaviour of Jade & Co has long been regarded as unacceptable within mainstream British culture (at least officially), these attitudes and behaviours do still exist in certain quarters of British society. The people concerned are fine if the South Asian they’re confronted with is of an equal or “inferior” socio-economic status to them, and they’re perfectly happy to go to India and notice “the poverty, the slums, the bobbing-head rickshaw driver or sanctimonious tour guide” – but NOT if you’re more educated than them, more affluent than them, obviously more intelligent, articulate, successful and “posher sounding” than they are (either in Britain or over in India). If you’re the latter, then they basically see you as the “uppity Paki” — which is exactly what Shilpa had to deal with.

    Do you think that someone like Liz Hurley would have been treated like that if she’d been in the CBB house ? Of course not. She’s also beautiful, wealthy, obviously very upper-class-sounding in her way of speaking, and may be perceived to have certain “airs and graces” — exactly the same things that “hoity toity” Shilpa was being accused of. But there’s one major difference between Ms Hurley and Ms Shetty. Jade, Jo, and their supporters within British society will not try to bring down a white woman from that background and with that kind of persona. But they will not tolerate a South Asian equivalent. They do not think they’re the equal of Liz Hurley, but — regardless of how poorly educated, ignorant, and generally uncouth they may be themselves — they DO think they’re the equal of (and quite possibly superior to) ANY South Asian. Welcome to the legacy of colonialism in Britain, my friends. Reality bites. Now you know what our parents have had to deal with here, and what most of us have had to grow up facing.

    With regards to the uproar within Britain during the past few weeks, amongst South Asians here (and obviously huge numbers of non-desi Brits), it wasn’t just the fact that Shilpa was obviously being harassed due to racial motivations which was the sole issue — it was the fact that Channel 4 and Endemol allowed it to occur without intervening for a long time, and only then due to the outcry here. They were happy to allow an Indian to be made a scapegoat and tormented 24/7 ad nauseam, purely for the sake of entertainment. Despite the fact, mind you, that doing so violated a) their contract to protect Shilpa from such bullying, b) Jade & Co’s contracts with Big Brother, and c) Channel 4′s legal obligations as per the requirements of British jurisprudence regarding the entertainment industry.

    Events in the UK post-9/11 and post-7/7 aside, generally South Asians here have tended to stick together — on a societal and and individual level, especially when you remember that (like the US) we too grew up in an ignorant and semi-hostile environment towards desis — and there was no way in hell we were going to allow one of our desi sisters to be treated like that. We don’t take that kind of crap anymore and haven’t done so for a long time, so the fact that that particular hydra raised its head on mainstream British television again after a gap of over a decade (and in a situation which was horribly familiar to all of us) meant we had to draw our swords and respond forcefuly and unequivocally. Any other reaction would be the behaviour of a spineless, unprincipled coward.

    The support from the non-desi British population has also been heartening. When it came to the final eviction night, 10 million Brits voted — one of the highest (if not THE highest) television-related phone votes in British history. What’s more, Shilpa won by 63% of the vote — which meant that 6.3 million people actively helped her win. That’s quite a figure when you bear in mind that it’s almost 10% of the entire British population (approximately 61 million in total).

    Links from the Sky News website for those who are interested:

    Video of Shilpa’s post-win interview on Sky News.

    Transcript of interview.

    Danielle has now been questioned by British police over racism claims.

    Miss Great Britain organisation officially dissociate themselves from Danielle.

    A sobbing Jade checks into The Priory rehab clinic, being treated for shock & depression, and is being watched round the clock by psychiatrists. However, some psychiatrists have said that Jade needs at least 6 months therapy and that her rehab claim is a publicity stunt.

    Video of Jo’s interview a few days ago by British breakfast TV show “GMTV” – after the reality of the situation has dawned on her. Apparently she’s also now checked into a rehab clinic and is under constant psychiatric observation. I strongly recommend you check this video out — Jo had been the only one insisting she’d done nothing wrong and had refused to apologise for her actions.

    British police now also investigating Big Brother for alleged missing footage involving Shilpa being called a “f*cking Paki” in a song where Jade was present, after executive involved in the show apparently secretly informs the police of a cover-up.

    Recent articles about CBB on MSN.

  17. generally South Asians here have tended to stick together

    …..when it comes to this sort of thing.

  18. Kush T, Amitabh, JOAT,

    I forgot to mention — Shilpa’s been receiving so much publicity here that one of the biggest British satellite/cable movie channel networks was showing one of her movies at primetime last weekend…..And trailers for the film were being played repeatedly during the commercial breaks for 24. You can imagine how surreal that was. One minute you have Kiefer Sutherland doing his Jack Bauer thing, the next minute there’s Shilpa dancing around in clips from a Bollywood fillum. During the breaks for a hugely popular American TV show. On a national television channel. While millions of Brits are watching.

    It was actually Shaadi Karke Phas Gaya Yaar, so it wasn’t necessarily the best movie to showcase her talents (Phir Milenge would’ve been a better choice, although The Times were giving away free DVDs of that film last weekend), but it was great to see anyway. And I guess Salman Khan got some exposure here too.

    (By the way, Jade’s visa application to India has been rejected, and Danielle is now fleeing the UK).

    Anyway, you guys should check out these links on MSN too — some quite sardonic and very funny articles on the whole affair by a journalist called Stu Bak.

    Here and here. Should raise a smile — God knows we need it after the furore that’s happened.

    Quotes:

    I suspect that, like cockroaches after nuclear Armageddon, the Goodys will survive the media storm currently surrounding them to thrive once more. Race row scapegoat Jade didn’t get where she is today (or, more accurately, where she was a month ago) without a damn good PR team, and plans are already afoot for the inevitable educational visit to India. I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that a gleeful Channel 4 have already bought the rights to the TV serialisation. Episode 1: Jade eats curry with her fingers; Episode 2: Jade visits Shilpa on the set of her latest movie; Episode 3: New Diana Jade looks wistful by the Taj Mahal; Episode 4: Jade gives a lecture on the history of Hinduism, in Sanskrit;

    “I want to be a model.” Danielle’s side-splitting comedy routine predicts what she’ll be saying this week to the agencies that dropped her.

    “She doesn’t have a funny bone in her body.” Cruel Dirk says what everyone else is thinking after witnessing Cleo’s pitiful ‘comedy’ act.

    “I think everyone’s on the same page today.” Yes, Jo, but not everyone’s reading Mein Kampf.

    “Blackbird!” Shilpa responds imaginatively to Ian’s suggestion that they think up a name for the blackbird in the garden.

    “She’s highly illiterate. On the other hand she likes to talk, so that creates problems.” Like the rest of us, Dirk just wanted Jo to shut up.

    “Have you ever seen snow before?” Brown-noser Ian Watkins asks Shilpa a question of Jade Goody-esque ignorance.

    “That’s ice, that’s not snow, tell me what part of it is snow!” Er, the snow part is snow, Jo.

    “Who was Billie Jean based on? Was it the tennis player?” No, Ian, no it wasn’t.

    “I used to be a proper little bitch.” So what’s changed, Danielle?”

    “I think Jack could win this.” Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

    “Why are some people born with a higher IQ than others?” Jo O’Meara, proud owner of the world’s lowest IQ.

    “Every other part of my body has a use.” Yes, Jack, apart from your brain.

    “How come Eskimos haven’t turned into ice cubes?” Yes, Jade really is that stupid.

    “Can he read?” Danielle (rightly) questions Jack’s literacy.

    “I will not have people speaking to me like that.” No wonder hoity toity Shilpa rubbed ‘girl from the gutter’ Jade up the wrong way.

    “She can’t even speak English properly.” At least I think that’s what Danielle said.

    “I don’t think anyone should think they’re above me. Or below me for that matter.” A good point, made uncharacteristically succinctly, by Jade.

    “I’m disappointed in her.” Halfwit Jack on Jade making up with Shilpa.

    “I’m embarrassed and disgusted at myself.” As you should be Jade, as you should be.

  19. I absolutely love the way Shilpa handled this, but I do question her consciousness of the poverty in India. Even with the SKY news reporter asked her, she eluded the question.

    Also, what do you guys think about the fact that despite Jade’s skin color, the fact that she has African ancestry positions her lower on the social totem pole, thus the reaction against her was harsher. I mean, the other two were shunned, but Jade made most of the negative headlines and got most of the flack.

  20. Jade was definitely the most aggressive – the ringleader followed by the other two. I don’t think her ancestry played into it at all. What bugs me about the whole circus is that the backlash appears to have driven far more by class hatred than by racial tolerance. I found Cleo and Carole quite condescending and subtly offensive. The questions put by Carole about Shilpa’s marriage plans had so many stereotypical assumptions behind them. But they’re middle class and no one took issue with them. This type of racism is more the type we Canucks have to deal with every day.

  21. Jai,

    I read that Shilpa’s mummy wants her to someone special soon in UK. She will be there till March. This is your window of opportunity.

    I think she has done quite well till now. Two things she has to be careful: “over exposure and subsequent backlash” and make sure that her inner hidden, latent “Danielle Lloyd” does not show up. Otherwise, it has been all good.

    Very early she exclusively thanked Brit Asians of Pakistani and Bangladesh origin too. She has high native intelligence, and is keenly aware of things around.

  22. the class issue makes this even more interesting. The minorities in the house, Jermaine and Shilpa, I saw as the most traveled, dignified and cultured compared to the other guests. Especially Jermaine, he grew up in a rural/low-middle class setting, but his family progressed to live a very high standard of life. Nonetheless, high level of class/dignity must have started in the very beginning. The same with Shilpa, she comes across as very humble. She indulged in aspects of everyday living, like cooking, that most idolized celebs would scoff at. She enjoyed catering to people on a domestic level, which was facinating to watch. She made the statement “Even if I were a maid, I’d want to be the best maid…” For someone like her to even make the relation as far as job duties were concerned, impressed me. I guess I’m impressionable.

    I wonder what her beginnings were as far as social class is concerned, and if this trans-class experience is what made the two of them capable of standing out. They seem so well rounded, but does it really take being ‘high class’ to be so? Just because you come from the slums, is that a REAL excuse for not being socially conscious, intelligent or polite?

    And that is a whole nother issue all together: class, wealth and celebrity status.

  23. Do you think that someone like Liz Hurley would have been treated like that if she’d been in the CBB house ? Of course not. She’s also beautiful, wealthy, obviously very upper-class-sounding in her way of speaking, and may be perceived to have certain “airs and graces” — exactly the same things that “hoity toity” Shilpa was being accused of. But there’s one major difference between Ms Hurley and Ms Shetty. Jade, Jo, and their supporters within British society will not try to bring down a white woman from that background and with that kind of persona. But they will not tolerate a South Asian equivalent. They do not think they’re the equal of Liz Hurley, but — regardless of how poorly educated, ignorant, and generally uncouth they may be themselves — they DO think they’re the equal of (and quite possibly superior to) ANY South Asian.

    Well put, Jai.

  24. Amda,

    I absolutely love the way Shilpa handled this, but I do question her consciousness of the poverty in India.

    She quietly does a lot of AIDS-awareness charity work in India.

    I wonder what her beginnings were as far as social class is concerned,

    Her own family background is fairly privileged and wealthy (private school-educated, successful businesspeople parents, both ex-models, mother marketing director etc etc).

    Just because you come from the slums, is that a REAL excuse for not being socially conscious, intelligent or polite?

    Hell no, and that’s my point too. Coming from an “underprivileged background” isn’t an excuse (or a license) to be an obnoxious jerk towards others, especially if you ain’t poverty-stricken anymore.

    Deepa,

    Well put, Jai.

    Thank you. It’s basically a matter of some people from a certain background feeling threatened by people from a certain other background and with a certain demeanour because the latter a) upsets their own tunnel-visioned, ignorant, and frankly patronising preconceptions of what people from the latter group are “supposed” to be like (along with their wider cultural/social environment), and b) because it threatens their own notions and assumptions of inherent superiority.

    In a nutshell:

    “Kwik-e-Mart” type in the West, or poverty-stricken villager over in India: Good. They can handle that. Doctor/Lawyer/Management Consultant/Investment Banker/poised, glamorous, very well-spoken Bollywood actress: Bad. An uppity Paki with ideas above their station, who needs to be brought “back down to earth”.

    Kush,

    I read that Shilpa’s mummy wants her to someone special soon in UK. She will be there till March. This is your window of opportunity.

    Heh heh, your badmaashi just doesn’t end, does it ? :) Actually I read that too, although Shilpa probably wants a multimillionaire type.

    Maybe you should volunteer, as Sepia Mutiny’s resident rock god…..

    things she has to be careful: “over exposure and subsequent backlash”

    Oh, I agree completely. There’s a serious risk of her being raised up and then torn down by the very public who originally exalted her. However, her career’s now in the hands of famous British PR guru Max Clifford, so hopefully she’s in safe hands. Apparently she’s now received between 250-300 job offers, including 3 shows in London’s West End (our equivalent of Broadway), a role opposite Johnny Depp in Shantaraam, and another possible role opposite Hugh Grant (she’s meeting him tomorrow at the premiere of his new movie in London). She’s also been invited to meet the Queen (I don’t know when), along with a special reception being held for her at the House of Commons on Wednesday, and apparently Tony Blair also wants to meet her.

    Jo O’Meara was interviewed again today, this time on Sky News. Article here, video here (will require Windows Media Player). Jo claims she’s been feeling suicidal, and has been having panic attacks as a result of what’s happened. Quite a turnaround from her initial defiance and complete lack of remorse when she was interviewed by Davina immediately upon being evicted from the CBB house last week, even when she was shown the video footage of her abhorrent behaviour towards Shilpa.

    Personally, I think that Jo, Jade and Danielle don’t necessarily regret their mistreatment of Shilpa (despite what they’re saying) due to sympathy towards her — they regret the fact that they got busted for it (and the subsequent public backlash towards them).

    There was also an interesting article in today’s Daily Express which I recommend you check out — full article here – it suggests that this may be a turning point in British television and possibly within wider UK society as a whole, as a rejection of “chav culture” — the UK-equivalent of “trailer trash” behaviour (and the glorification of “celebrities” who engage in such conduct) — which has become endemic here in the last few years. Quote: “Four weeks ago she was unknown in Britain to all but Bollywood film fans. Two weeks ago, she was at the centre of a diplomatic incident involving racial abuse. Today Shilpa Shetty is being given the credit for creating a new age of elegance. It’s becoming known as the Shilpa effect…..Clifford says: “We are entering a new age of elegance. I have never seen such an extraordinary reaction to a person as I have to her.” Can it be more than just clever public relations spin? Possibly not. Fed up with the Jade Goody-driven celebrity chav culture as shown on television and in magazines, there is evidence that the public may have had enough.”

  25. many English people (including, it seems, some “C-list celebrities”) really do think that they can casually disparage, attack, undermine and dismiss South Asians with impunity. Those of us who live in the UK have to deal with this crap every day — at school, at college, at work, on the streets

    But, but, Jai Singh, haven’t you been reminding us ad nauseam (rubbing it in actually) that UK desis, being majority punjabis from Pakistan and to a lesser extent sikhs from India, are a different breed than american desis? That you all tend to look like latins, israelis and persians rather than desis from points east and south of Punjab? So what gives? Why do the brits treat you so much worse than the real persians, spaniards and jews?? Please do explain. Inquiring minds want to know. :)

  26. BTW, Shilpa Shetty is a south indian, who belongs to the meat-eating sudra caste (as another poster has revealed) of the ghost-worshiping Tulu community. She has shown more innate class, dignity and spine relating to whites than most any desi living abroad. What does that say about the usual colonial and brahminical stereotypes that are even today propagated by so many desis, including many right here?

  27. Doordarshan,

    Why do the brits treat you so much worse than the real persians, spaniards and jews?? Please do explain. Inquiring minds want to know. :)

    It’s not rocket science, but since you apparently need it spelt out for you in painstaking detail, here’s the earth-shaking answer:

    Because it’s absolutely nothing to do with physical appearance and everything to do with Britain’s colonial history with the subcontinent.

    Perhaps a staggeringly revolutionary and innovative concept for you, I know, but there it is.

  28. My grandmother asked me to explain the concept of reality tv to her, which I did. Then she wanted to know what had happened to Shilpa Shetty, and I did my best. Then she said:

    “So after all of this talk of racialism she’s nicely brought back three crores; how can we talk about racialism when you look at the way we treat our own people?”

  29. how can we talk about racialism when you look at the way we treat our own people?”

    as an american, i officially renounce my previous participation in the anti-aparthied movement.

  30. how can we talk about racialism when you look at the way we treat our own people?”

    That’s only applicable if Shilpa Shetty herself — or the South Asians objecting to the way she was treated — has “racist” attitudes towards South Asians of other backgrounds to herself.

    If this isn’t the case (and there’s no evidence to indicate that it is, in the case of Ms Shetty), then it’s irrelevant. Unless you believe in the concept of “collective guilt”, in which case our moral philosophies diverge quite radically and you have zero support from me.

    In any case, considering the fact that her tormentors displayed bigoted attitudes towards South Asians en masse, implying that we should not defend ourselves in such situations because some South Asians can be racist isn’t exactly a constructive course of action. In fact, I’d describe it as self-destructive and misguided in the extreme, along with a classic example of South Asians shooting each other in the back in the face of adversaries who would be all too happy to watch us undermine each other.

  31. She is so ugly like hell. She deserved what ever happened to her. And everyone made a big deal out of it for nothing. At the end, she is the that took advantage from it. U must have seen it that she didn’t even feel in the house but when she came out, she saw everyone was talkin about it and she she made it like she suffered alot mentally and emotionally. She was fake and she is fake like everyone else in Bollywood. So what the hell. She is ugly like hell.