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To live and die in the public eye?

Is Jade Goody putting fame to good effect?

Published on March 6th 2009.


To live and die in the public eye?
The Results..
Yes: - 48%
No: - 52%

Jade Goody is a woman who has achieved a great deal of money, fame and publicity by being a sideshow freak: a Bermondsey girl caged in a tabloid fairground. She's done this for so long it's difficult now to even remember how and why the former dental nurse became so famous.

She first appeared on series three of Big Brother and memorably asked fellow house mates if 'East Angular' was a country in Europe and if 'Rio de Janeiro' was a person. After being evicted, she then did what all BB contestants try to do and milked her five minutes of fame in every glossy going. But it lasted much longer than five minutes.

There is something about the car crash of Goody’s life that has gripped tabloid land whether readers are interested or not. We've had the rows, the drinking bouts, the babies, the fitness video, the beauty salon, the documentary, the perfume (deliciously named Shhh!). Then with Celebrity Big Brother in 2006 she got into trouble for bullying Indian actress Shilpa Shetty.

Goody's publicist, Max Clifford of course, came to the rescue. Goody apologised for her actions before appearing on the Indian version of Big Brother in 2008. She was by now a walking joke, a Great British embarrassment.

However, it was live – live – in India that she was told she had cervical cancer. Earlier this month she announced it was terminal. Bang – instantly the tabloids changed tack. Goody went from idiot clown to tragic mum (not mother, 'mum', more like wot we speak).

The charities loved it as much as the tabloids. A celebrity victim means more attention, more funds, more resources, more terrifying ad campaigns.

And this was a good thing surely? As reported in Confidential's article on cervical cancer last week Cancer Research has reported an extra 30,000 clicks on their website since news of Goody's cancer went public. Goody is now beyond good mum level and into the realm of ‘example to us all’. More women are checking themselves out.

Definitely a result then.

Well yes, but something sticks in the gullet here. What about all the people in the same position as Goody who won’t have the same attention poured on them by the tabloids, who won’t make that money, who haven’t been such a public mess most of their lives? We can have every sympathy for the individual – a young death is always tragic – but if we look behind the bare fact of this illness it doesn't look too savoury.

The endgame for Goody is to die publicly for the sake of her two sons. She’ll gather in £700,000 for her wedding photographs in OK! Magazine and £100,000 from Living TV for a documentary. There will be other cash to collect as well.

Can't complain about that, it's all for the kids. But it doesn’t end there of course.

Part of the contradictions of living a life in tabloid land means that anything goes. Eventually those sons will be fair game. There’s only the story in this type of journalism. Nothing else matters, just the story. There is no moral equivalence.

As Goody's kids grow older money will change hands to describe how they’re getting on, column inches will fill with gentle words written in a simpering and affectionate tone.

But once the boys have become young adults any misdemeanor will be jumped on and their mother’s ‘worthy’ death paraded before them to make them feel utterly worthless and ashamed. Lord, you can’t help feeling those kids haven’t got a chance.

But that’s not for now is it? Goody’s raised awareness of cervical cancer.

Now it’s time for tears (especially crocodile tears from the journalists who’ve previously mocked her). Now it’s time to let the lady die in peace with blanket coverage whilst we all watch - even if we don’t want to. Thus will end a totally tabloid life. What a strange saga it's been.

So what do you think? Is Jade Goody putting her fame to good effect by her very public illness and death? Vote yes or no on the home page.

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9 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

PaulaFebruary 24th 2009.

I feel sorry for Jade, however I can't help thinking that we are a fairweather fickle bunch. We all hated her and called her a racist, now she's Joan of Arc.

AnonymousFebruary 24th 2009.

I wouldnt wish cancer on my worse enemy but I do feel that the marriage etc would have been better beign a private affair, this is a lady at deaths door, how sick are we to watch?

AnonymousFebruary 24th 2009.

I think there is something irresistible about a public death. Saddam Hussein, Ken Bigley, the knitting circle at the French Revolution. What need in us does it address? Is it voyeurism or do we need to face our own mortality now and again for deeper reasons?

keren curranFebruary 24th 2009.

i dont see a problem in showing it,if thats her choice so be it,god bless to her.

AnonymousFebruary 24th 2009.

I have not followed any of Jane's 'rise to fame', I have my own life. Isn't it the public who are to blame for watching all this? Why should she be blamed for cashing in on what the public want?

Doctor StrabismusFebruary 24th 2009.

Who is this Jane?

Bog Eye The NooFebruary 24th 2009.

Dr Strabismus, you should chat to Dig and compare notes on the photographs in LivConfidential. Who knows you may see eye to eye on a few of them.

tara ra -bumdiayFebruary 24th 2009.

i was never really a fan of Jade Goody and was annoyed that she seemed to be using her illness to gain yet more fame!, but when i saw a brief clip of her, balding, being sick and crying , i couldnt help feel sorry for her!, having watched my late husband die of cancer at 49 and saw him deteriorate from a stepping 6ft guy to a 5stone shadow of a man, and dying in my arms, i applaude jade for doing as much as she can before this awful disease wins, all the things she is able to do now, well, good luck to her! and if she earns money from it for her children then so be it! money wont bring their mum back when shes gone but it will soften the awful blow! with the help of max 'ill get blood from a stone' clifford, he will make sure of that! we only live once so leave her to it! no one would really want to be in her shoes! how ever much they cost!

me and mine from wiganFebruary 24th 2009.

Having lost several members of my family to this terrible disease, I feel nothing but compassion for Jade, Jack and the boys. For her mother to see her going through all this and being unable to help must be tearing her apart. God Bless you Jade and may you soon be with our Heavenly Father free from pain, but still able to watch over Jack and your beautiful boys. You are in our thoughts and prayers constantly. All our love

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