CMCI Director Dr Richard Howells was a live guest on Sky Television News following the furore over Sir Michael Parkinson’s remarks about Jade Goody in next week’s Radio Times.
Parkinson, the veteran journalist and former chat show host, said that reality TV star Goody, who died recently of cancer aged 27, represented “all that’s paltry and wretched about Britain”. He continued: “Her death is as sad as the death of any young person but it’s not the passing of a martyr or a saint or, God help us, Princess Di”.
Goody was “barely educated, ignorant and puerile”, wrote Parkinson. “Then she was projected to celebrity by Big Brother and, from that point on, became a media chattel to be manipulated and exploited till the day she died”.
Howells told host Matt Smith that while he –and many viewers- actually agreed with much of what Sir Michael had said, he disagreed on one important point. Jade Goody was not an innocent victim of media exploitation: the exploitation had been entirely mutual. By actively inviting the public into her private life, she had known exactly what she was doing and why.
Our director went on sociologically to explain the Jade Goody phenomenon and argued that she had already –quite literally- become a “text book case” whose academic existence might actually (and ironically) outlive her celebrity persona.