The Prime Minister is asked to make an urgent statement on it and other senior politicians, both here and abroad, feel the need to make earnest and considered comments on the story of the week.
Death threats are allegedly being issued against a former beauty queen, ex-pop singer and someone who has become a star (sic) for being loud, obnoxious and thick. Effigies are being burned in the street of faceless TV executives.
It made second item on the 10pm news last night and was given top billing on the BBCs infotainment magazine programme Breakfast this morning.
National newspapers are divided as to whether it is an indication of underlying and institutionalised bigotry that exists within the UK, a classic case of schoolyard bullying transported into adult life, a national disgrace or, if you’re a Daily Mail reader, a storm over nothing when you consider the state of the NHS, our schools, cash for honours scandals, rampant immigration, Iraq…etc…etc…
The story, of course, is the obvious bullying that Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty is being subjected to in the Celebrity Big Brother house on Channel 4 and whether the treatment being meted out to her is racist.
If ever a story perfectly encapsulated all that is wrong with early 21st century society then I would hazard a guess that this is it.
I still haven’t watched any of the programmes. I keep reading too many references to this latest Celebrity Big Brother being “a disgrace”, or “so offensive it is almost unwatchable” and prior to this week “the most boring reality television programme ever made” to waste any precious time or brain cells.
I have, obviously, seen some of the offending segments and comments as they are now being relayed on just about every TV news bulletin and transcripts are appearing in most newspapers and on most news-orientated websites.
There is simply no escaping the racist bullying (allegedly) scandal enveloping Celebrity Big Brother and Channel 4. It is, for the time being at least, the hottest story around.
From what I’ve seen and read, it appears that the gorgeous and successful actress is being bullied by the failed beauty queen, the former pop star and the deranged harpy. Some of the comments are classic playground-style bitchiness. Others undoubtedly veer towards the racist.
The antagonism has, by all accounts, been building for some time.
Yet, those other housemates watching and listening as the three pick on the one have apparently done or said nothing to try and resolve the situation. Those who have left the house have been freely commenting on the bullying and yet they too did nothing whilst locked inside the house.
The programme makers and Channel 4 have seemingly stood by and let events unfold.
And millions are tuning in every day to get their slice of entertainment – with an extra million or so flicking the remote onto Channel 4 and E4 since the racism row exploded.
The bullying intensifies, the coverage becomes more saturated, the politicians condemn racism and bullying and still Celebrity Big Brother is allowed to continue and become the ratings hit. All this breaking news just a few days after many were claiming the franchise had lost its sparkle and this particular series was so excruciatingly dull that it may not survive to another series.
But now we have controversy, we have attractive women, we apparently have racism and we certainly have bullying. All on our TV screens, in our homes.
Channel 4 has a ratings hit.
The Big Brother franchise has a new, depressing theme to plough.
Television viewers around the country have something interesting to watch at last.
The winners are the broadcasters and those who are making money out of the cult of celebrity that has gripped us for so long.
Many will disagree, but I also see Jo O’Meara, Danielle Lloyd, Jade Goody – the three main protagonists – and Jade’s equally odious mother Jackiey Budden and feckless teenage boyfriend Jack Tweedy (who is wetter than a fish’s wet bits) as coming out favourably after the dust settles.
A little controversy never harmed anyone and these days it is handy to have a USP to excite the viewers, readers and listeners. This would be especially true for any “star” who is struggling to prove they have any discernible talent that merits their place on TV, on the radio, in newspaper or magazine interviews.
The cult of celebrity has created a new generation of “stars” who excite a surprisingly large section of society for no apparent reason.
We hang on their every meaningless word and futile action as if they offer something of value to modern life. And yet, despite elevating them to household names, at any opportunity we want to knock them off the pedestal we have created for them.
The last series of Celebrity Big Brother was a shining example of this attitude.
The programme makers invited a list of established celebrities and then put a complete unknown (Chantelle Houghton) in the house with them, complete with a made up history as a minor model and wannabe pop singer. A ridiculous premise, but so depressingly believable because that what happens these days and so every other house mate bought the joke.
The viewers were obviously in on the scam and ultimately the girl from nowhere beat the humiliated “stars” to win the title. After all, we’ll take any opportunity to elevate an ordinary person and knock down a celebrity or two in the process.
That is why Chantelle herself, now a celeb in her own right with a pop star husband (oh, the irony) is experiencing a bit of a media backlash. Her enraged hubbie reportedly walked out of one TV show recently because of the endless jokes being made at her expense and being lapped up by an enthusiastic audience.
We have created a generation of stars who are shallow, ignorant, have little or no talent, offer nothing positive or meaningful, are often loud and obnoxious. Yet they are feted at every opportunity and then demolished when we’ve had our fun.
We have created a generation of stars who mirror society as a whole.
We have all become gripped by the cult of celebrity because we allow things like the apparent racist bullying on Celebrity Big Brother to become entertainment.
Modern life is rubbish but we’ve only got ourselves to blame.