With reports that Big Brother racism complaints hit 2,000, clearly there is an issue here to be addressed. As with earlier series of BB where gay and transvestite contestants have raised understanding of relevant issues, this year has stimulated debate about racism.
The programme has been a new media phenomenon since it began – and the 24:7 global dimension is added this year with fans of Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty in India able to follow and comment on the show.
I have seen some of the footage and felt the behaviour against Shilpa was certainly bullying. I am currently reading some books on racism in relation to the new CIPR Diploma planning assignment – and there seems to most definitely be prejudice and ignorance at work here, which are features of racist behaviour.
I am also uncomfortable by the way in which it seems acceptable for one contestant to use a word (which I will not repeat – and which is still about the only word bleeped on UK television) to describe the actress, in preference to a racist term. I think that any such insults – racist or sexist – are unacceptable.
Equally worrying was the ignorance shown by Jade Goody in asking a question about why Eskimo people don’t freeze to death. I’m sure she is not alone in her lack of knowledge of other peoples – and this is a factor in racist attitudes.
I think the BB brother producers could get involved – at least to set a task to increase the contestants understanding of each other and show a positive approach to this “social experiment” – rather than allowing the base level to dominate. If they can manipulate people to behave badly (which their elementary application of psychology does), can’t BB also show how attitudes of tolerance and respect can be motivated too?