Friday, January 19, 2007

Story of the Week - January 15-19

Every Friday, I'll choose my favorite news story of the week. Or the one I'm most angry about, confused by, or can't get enough of.

Jade (who?) and Shilpa (wait, who's that?) Make Up (why were they fighting?)

"Imagine, someone in Somalia is lucky enough to find a television and he, I
don't know, steals some gasoline to run the generator to power the TV and he
turns on CNN International, cause he's desperate to know what's going on in the
world, only to find we're obsessed with a TV show he's never heard of!"
--anonymous CNN editor.

Ok, here's the deal. I'll try to give you a mostly unbiased opinion of what the hell is going on with this ridiculous story (I said mostly unbiased) and you try to tell me why on earth CNN International has spent days covering all the angles of this story, which they say has caused "international outrage."

The British reality show: It's another installment of Channel 4's Celebrity Big Brother, in which a handful of "celebrities" are put in a house that's rigged with dozens of cameras, asked to do all kinds of silly tasks and watched round-the-clock by the voyeuristic British public, which determines whether each cast member stays or is evicted week after week.

The Money: for ₤4.99, you can sign up for unlimited 24 hour streaming video from the Celebrity Big Brother house. But only if you live in the UK or Ireland and have absolutely no life of your own to concern yourself with. For standard text messaging rates plus ₤1, you can nominate and vote for whoever you want evicted. And, Channel 4 is a commercial channel, unlike the BBC, so it has sponsors and commercials. The opening show had about 8 million viewers tune in. In England, that's a lot.

The Cast: 15 people you've never or barely heard of. The most famous of them all might be Dirk Benedict, best known for being Lt. Templeton 'The Face' Peck on "The A-Team." , and Jermaine Jackson, aka Muhammad Abdul Aziz, aka Michael's older and probably-just-as-messed-up-but-in-a-different-less-pedophillic-way-I-think brother.

The Players:
Jade Goody, "the most successful British reality star ever". Jade finished 3rd in Big Brother 3, and was best known for being stupid, making such Jessica Simpsonian statements as "I thought Cambridge was part of London" and thinking East Anglia, where Cambridge really is, was another country. She also thought Saddam Hussein was a boxer. And she spun that reputation into an ₤8 million empire of tabloid publicity and subsequent reality appearances. And she dragged her lovely mother and brother into the CBB house with her. Charming girl, really.

Then there's Shilpa Shetty, the superstar Indian actress considered to have the best body in Bollywood. You know her as Tamanna Sahani in the 2004 smash hit "Phir Milenge."

What happened: Naturally, Shilpa and Jade didn't get along from the start, shared a few words, then a few more, then some screaming, some more screaming, some bleeped out words, all standard. Then, Jade called Shilpa a pappadon or a paki or something and it spawned an international incident. Sponsors threatened to pull support, Tony Blair got a question about it in Parliament, people protested in India. And CNN International has given near-hourly updates for the past 3 days, they brought in an Indian relations sensitivity expert, cut half a dozen packages and rounded up every Big Brother pun they could think of. You'd think it was the OJ trial.

By the way, Channel 4 is loving all of this. Also by the way, try to find this story in an American newspaper.

Today, the celebrities (who, because of the big brother set up, have no idea of the controversy they've created) apologized to each other,( and later tonight, the two will discover they are the nominees to be evicted. And CNN will carry that decision LIVE.


Isn't there a war going on? Isn't Congress doing something? Aren't people being mutilated in Sudan? Or starving in Africa? Or Drowning in New Orleans?

The "most trusted name in news" is taking benign British tabloid fodder seriously? Could somebody tell me why?

No seriously... tell me.

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