In case you've been living in a cave (or Slough) for the past month or so, you'll have heard about Jade Goody's death. The hubub surrounding her death appears to be a case example of the 'Marmite effect', splitting Britain down the middle, or at least into some odd pie chart - some Britons revere her as some kind of modern-day Saint, some still see her as the racist, ignorant stereotypical epitome of the lower classes or even worse, and this is where most of the jokes have come from.
And then there is Michael Parkinson's view.
This article caught my eye, simply because if it had been any other 'celebrity', I would've closed the MSN window (which I generally do; I have no interest on the Top Ten Most Worthless Lists of All Time, what's going on in Eastenders or Jodie Marsh's new rhinoplasty). But Michael Parkinson has been a successful journalist and presenter for years and years now, he has met some truly influential people and all this without feeling the need to represent himself. His shows are topical and the guests aren't hand-picked from his showbiz friends. So when you read what he says about Jade, do you think he deserves the criticism he gets?
Yes, it is really sad that Jade died, and even sadder that her death has left two little boys motherless, and on Mother's Day of all things. This makes me cringe a little internally whenever I hear (or tell, I'm no saint either) a Jade Goody joke. I know she sold her story over and over again to the papers towards the end of her life to make sure there was a financial windbreaker for her sons. But I also know that there are now 122 pages of sick jokes about Jade on Sickipedia. Telling all to the media caused a mass divide in opinion because every magazine wanted the latest scoop on her; no publication wanted to say the same thing as their rival publications. So why is she so unpopular?
It's fair to say that in her last months of life, she did her best to make up for all she'd done wrong: apologies to Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty, backing the decision to lower the age for cervical smear tests, and also securing personal happiness by marrying her on-off partner Jack Tweed. But can you really believe she'd have done any of that if she hadn't been dying? I know it's a harsh point to make, but I can honestly say that if the doctor told me tomorrow that I had three months to live, you can bet Jade's total yearly income that my attitude would change drastically.
I mean, think about it: regardless of what you've done with your life, wouldn't you want to make peace before you died? If not with others, how about with yourself? Regardless of your religious views, the fact of the matter is we don't know what happens when our bodies die. Why take a chance? If it turns out that you just die, wouldn't you want your last few weeks to be contented ones?
Jade Goody is not, and never will be Princess Diana. Diana did a lot of publically-obvious relief work during her life, but we the public do not know what her private life was like, and it looks like no light is going to be shed on it any time soon. With Jade, there was no in-between, and the media were just as quick to condemn her as they were to martyr her. OK! Magazine even printed a 'tribute' issue before she had even died. This is laughable, yes, but it goes to show that OK! know what sells, and what sells is public opinion. If they tried selling that magazine to people that really hated Jade Goody, they'd make hardly any sales.
So there you have it - Jade is not a saint, she is not a tyrant: she is a human. Bravo to Michael Parkinson for spelling it out.