The end of Big Brother?

How much more of this can anyone take? Another series of 'Big Brother’ and another racism row. This time involving 19-year-old Tory girl, Emily Parr, who called a black housemate the 'N' word.

Yes, she might not have done it maliciously, but Emily did it all the same. We all realise she was trying to be Tim Westwood and be down with the (black) kids.

Its interesting to note that, malicious or not, Russell Simmons, founder of Def-Jam, has called for the removal of racist (and sexist) language from songs: "The word 'nigger' is a racially derogatory term that
disrespects the pain, suffering, history of racial
oppression, and multiple forms of racism against
African-Americans and other people of colour."

Channel 4 has acted swiftly and booted her out of the house, but the damage is done and it has continued to stir it up. This current series began with an apology for racism and now we have another.

Is it time to pull the plug on a show whose contribution to national culture is wholly negative and distasteful? The casual racism is only the tip of the iceberg, worse is that the show trades on conflict between housemates and potential sexual couplings — a Becks and Posh Spice lookalike? How lame. How obvious. How 'Big Brother'.

Two racism rows in a row, granted, the latest is small fry compared to the international row that engulfed Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty, but I don’t think it matters. It hasn’t been broadcast, but everyone knows. Tomorrow's newspapers will be crammed to the brim with this story. It will make some international headlines. Again. Doing nothing for the UK's image abroad.

Channel 4 should put its hands up and say this is the last series of 'Big Brother' it will air and go away and come up with some new programming ideas.

But it won't as 'Big Brother' is big cash. For a publicly funded station to produce this show when it has nothing positive to contribute, to anything other than Channel 4's coffers, seems unacceptable.

Just read what Lord Puttnam, the deputy chairman of Channel 4, has to say. He sums it up nicely and he works for the broadcater.

"I am not proud of the Big Brother row – I am not even proud of Big Brother. But Big Brother accounts for 15% of the total revenue that keeps Channel 4 afloat."

Update: Worse though how could Channel 4 go ahead and broadcast this incident in full? It seems the station has learned nothing and is just ratings chasing. If this all ends in tears it deserves no sympathy. They are just throwing petrol on the fire and condoning such behaviour.

What a bunch of opportunists.

In case you were interested here's the transcript of what was said (allegedly):

Emily: (referring to Charley dancing/pushing her hips forward) You pushing it out you n****r.

Nicky: (shocked laughter) Em, I can't believe you said that.

Charley: You are in trouble.

Emily: Don't make a big thing out of it then. I was joking.

Charley: I know you were… but that's some serious s**t, sorry.

Emily: Why?

Charley: Oh my god. I'm not even saying it.

Nicky: Just don't talk about it anymore.

Emily: I was joking

Charley: Do you know how many viewers would watch that?

Nicky: Okay, don't make a big deal out of it.

Charley: Fancy you saying that. I can't believe you said that.

Emily: Somebody has already used that word in this house.

Charley: No way. (Pause) Yeah, me. I'm a n****r.

Nicky laughs.

Charley: I am one. Fancy you saying it. I know maybe you see it in a rap song. Maybe you and your friends sit there saying it.

Emily: I'm friendly with plenty of black people.

Nicky: And you call them n*****s?

Emily: Yeah and they call me n*****s. They call me wiggers as well.

Nicky: I'm quite shocked.

Charley: I'm f*****g in shock.

Emily: It's not a big deal though is it?

Charley: Not for us it ain't. F**k me.

  • Simon Gardner

    Oh dear, oh dear…

    This will now blow up the whole issue of who “owns” this word and whther blacks can use it on blacks or to refer to themselves but “whites” can’t etc etc.

    somebody just get rid of Big Brother, I can see this race issue being banded around because obviously big Brother represents the views of the whole country.

    On another note, notice how Ms Parr is always mentioned as being a conservative, come on you liberal newswriters, come out from behind your desk and show off that big cheesy grin of “yes, she was a tory, batter them!”

  • Will Callaghan

    As I posted on the forum, if the transcript’s true C4 has made a real mess of this. Am I alone in thinking that racism’s about not just words but the context in which they’re used? If BB bosses spent one day modding a busy messageboard they’d realise it. A ticking off would have sufficed.

    Wondered why her political persuasion was mentioned too.

  • Will Callaghan

    Just re-read your comment Gordon and the public funding is key here. C4…

    - Aired Diana

    - Filmed Wankathon

    - Quiz “the country’s leading experts” on BB: On The Couch. Leading Experts? Bull

    - Fluffed the last BB racism row

    - Will fluff this one

    The odd decent episode of Dispatches and C4 News doesn’t make up for this. I’m not suggesting a Mary Whitehouse test, more a cutting edge, well made and researched hurdle

  • J V

    When does Channel 4′s licence come up for review? Anyone fancy joining up for a tender? We’d walk it, I reckon. In addition to stealing a few programme ideas from Alan Partridge (the nation needs Monkey Tennis), I have some great ideas of my own. My personal favourite is The Lion’s Den – borderline criminals have the option of getting banged up or taking their chances with a pack of hungry lions in the garden of the (former) BB house. Wildlife study, social engineering and bloody good entertainment in one hit. Now THAT’S television. And imagine the sponsorship opportunities. Brand Manager of Lion Bar my mobile number is…

  • Will Callaghan

    Don’t forget Inner City Sumo. “It’d be cheap. Could do it in a Pub car park”

  • Alex Donohue

    Will, you’re right about context being an important factor but it’s still very shaky ground.

    I don’t really want to cast aspersions on the intelligence of the average BB contestant, but the theory that if that word was used by a smart person then it’s ironic or clever, but if it’s said by a dimwit like Jade Goody then it’s beyond the pale, frankly holds no weight.

    The word, and all the connotations it has of racial inferiority, are just inexcusable and wrong.

  • Ian Darby

    Channel 4 would bin this shameful stuff tomorrow if it could but its sad dependence on the revenue BB provides means it is stuck with it. It’s a shame C4 hasn’t had a good idea in the last eight years so that it could react in a more responsible fashion.

  • Mike Watson

    BB is a shower of Sh*t

  • Edward Howard-Williams

    They should just send all the contestants youth hosteling with Chris Eubank

  • Alex Donohue

    Indeed. In his own words, he’s a respectable person in a barbaric sport.

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