Since last evening (Monday) various TV channels in India have been closely monitoring and updating every little movement on the Shilpa Shetty + Big Brother issue. The Indian Government has thrown its weight behind Shilpa, Bollywood starts have thrown their weight behind Shilpa and so have countless Indians and NRIs across the world. The question is about the alleged racism towards Shilpa by some of her house-mates.
Here is what the Reuters has to say about the names that Shilpa was called;
The actress has been called a “dog”, one housemate said “she makes my skin crawl”, people refused to learn her name, her accent has been mocked and she has been reduced to tears by a group of contestants ganging up on her.
The issue has acted as a catalyst of sorts and forced the treatment of South Asians in Britain to the forefront as the Reuters article describes it:
“What makes Big Brother uncomfortable viewing for some is the idea that its contestants reflect broader society.
Commentator Germaine Greer argued that Britons should not be surprised at Shetty’s treatment, in a country where bigotry was widespread.
“This is a racist country,” she said in the Guardian newspaper. “There is almost no inter-penetration of English and Indian cultures in Britain.”
In the same newspaper author Hari Kunzru said a contestant’s refusal to learn Shetty’s name was “straightforwardly racist”.
“This is what Big Brother is for. It holds a mirror up to national attitudes. If we don’t like what we see, we ought to change,” he said.
Finance Minister Gordon Brown, widely tipped to take over as prime minister from Tony Blair, was drawn into the debate on a trip to India on Wednesday.
“I understand that in the UK there have already been 10,000 complaints from viewers about these remarks which people rightly see as offensive,” he told reporters in Bangalore.”
Tony Blair has been drawn into this affair. Here is what the BBC has to say:
“…was drawn into the row when, responding to a question in parliament about the TV program, he agreed with former Labour minister Keith Vaz that “we should oppose racism in all its forms.”
British author Hari Kunzru had this to say about Shilpa Shetty and Big Brother in this Guardian piece.
In what is perhaps an unprecedented show of support, thousands of people from all over UK have sent in their complaints to Ofcom, a media watchdog. There is pressure on Channel Four to withdraw the show.
Initially billed as an underdog in the show, today Shilpa’s chances of emerging a winner in the show is ranked pretty high by the British bookies. Shilpa has no clue that her treatment in the show has become such a central issue in the UK and India.