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Language, Power and Reality TV: the dynamics of race, class and gender in the UK Big Brother Jade-Shilpa row

By Heather Mendick and Rosalyn P. George

Abstract

Reality TV is often presented as an unproblematic social phenomenon which is consumed and digested by an unthinking and unsophisticated general public. We, however, argue that Reality TV is both a pervasive and important cultural form, and as such it is vital that researchers and teachers engage with it. We return to the controversial UK Big Brother 2007 arguments involving Jade Goody and Shilpa Shetty. We explore how the dynamics of class, gender and race played out in this case. Using this example, we look at how celebrity culture, ideas of truth and dominant discourses of White working-class culture position both the housemates and their audiences. We further argue that the coverage of the event foreclosed any discussions of White middle-class racism by drawing on discourses that denigrate the White working-class

Topics: L300, P300, X300
Publisher: Online Educational Research Journal
Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.gold.ac.uk:4109

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