A post written since the death of Jade Goody can be found here.
There is a certain irony to the fact that Jade Goody’s imminent death will no doubt earn her the public approval she has sought for much of her recent life. Yet despite the finality of death, her passing will not be the end irrespective of whether her publicist Max Clifford’s claims are true that she has found God. No, it will be the events of just over a decade ago that will ensure her celebrity beatification.
With her last breath, Goody will be miraculously reincarnated as the new ‘People’s Princess’. Somewhat miraculous when you consider that she was recently described by Time magazine as being “inadequately educated, a single parent to two boys, spilling out of nightclubs and ill-fitting dresses…a human face to…Britain’s stubborn social inequality and boozy irrepressibility”
In the same way that the flawed reality of Princess Diana became consumed by the sanctified figure she has since become so, like Diana, will Goody’s victimhood take on a whole new meaning. From the sins of the heroine and her claims to being a victim of circumstance, so the myth will remember how she eventually found love through suffering. But as the archetypal story states, she can only redeem herself through sacrifice and that ultimate sacrifice has to be death. The blood of the daughter redeeming the sins of all those worshipping at the altar of mammon, the false god of riches and avarice. Why her, why now, her desperate followers will ask.
And as in these stories, so death has to be both romantic and tragicomic. Diana’s was exactly that. Romantic in that she died having loved and being loved by the man at her side, tragicomic in that she died in the harsh filth of a Parisian underpass amid a plethora of flashbulbs and the scrum of the paparazzi as they tried to catch a glimpse of possibly the most glamorous of all.
Goody’s will be similar. Romantic in that she will pass away peacefully alongside the man she loved, spoken to us in the language of Mills & Boon. Tragicomic in that the amassed hordes from the watching media will be awaiting her last breath with anticipation thus initiating the casting of lots, the prize being the exclusive rights and a collector’s supplement showing the mourners in various stages of publicly staged grief.
And as with the massive but synthetic outpouring of grief that greeted Diana’s death, so too will the same follow Goody’s. Tears, wailing, collapsing and more will all be recorded in minute detail by the same photographers that stalked her for photos to accompany headlines that in a distance age screamed, ‘Kill the Pig’. Intrusive photos of her two young boys laying delicate flowers on her grave whilst C-list celebrities look for PR opportunities to try and convince Hello, OK and other gossip magazines that it is they who will be the rightful heir to Goody’s still warm throne. Victoria Beckham, Kerry Katona and Katie Price amongst others will be vying to capture the best words to describe their grief: our loss. Sadly, without any hint of authenticity whatsoever.
Following more than a decade of New Labour superficiality; the growth of the cult of celebrity; the veneration of its most shallow idols; the adoration of excess and greed; the voyeurism of schadenfreude; the cultural antipathy towards intellectualism; and the nihilistic and myopic rejection of social and personal morality, so Goody’s immortalisation will celebrate and commemorate all of this, epitomising all that we have become and sadly, all that we are. As a saviour for our time – a true Princess for the People that was ‘one of us’ – so her followers will look up to her, aspire to the material trappings that so clearly failed to bring her happiness, and to wish that they too were like her. More so, they will wish that their children were like her. All the time, regretful of how their new messiah’s life was so cruelly cut short.
A preposterous People’s Princess both for and from an increasingly preposterous people.
This work by Chris Allen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. Based on a work at www.chris-allen.co.uk.