So, Jade Goody.
If you dislike cynical blogging, look away now.
Big Brother for me is a bit like Manchester United - something I used to be into but have now undergone a conversion experience such that I would now rather stick needles in my eyes than watch it. Ms Goody (Mrs Tweed) has a lot to do with that.
Jade of course has made herself more widely available thanks to a tabloid induced extended 15 minutes of fame. We are all gripped by her illness and pleas to "kill me now" etc. OK so she is reported to be reading the Bible which is of course a good thing, and I would be lying if I said I wasn't touched by her fragile elegance in the footage of her wedding (I could be linking all this but frankly can't be bothered).
But that's it of course, it's all in the footage, in the papers. We do not know this person from Adam (or Eve) and we never will. We do not have any relationship with her in the real world, any more than we did with Diana Princess of Wales. Yet the nation including the Prime minister is expressing condolence and "thoughts going out" to her (what a useless empty phrase).
My problem with this is that people across the nation are investing emotional energy and time (and probably some money, thanks to Max Clifford) in a non-relationship with a dying person they have never spoken to or met; at the same time these same people are living lives full of dysfunctionality - in the workplace, the church, the community and supremely the family. People are not getting on, are actively falling out, arguing, splitting up etc.
I think the emotional energy of this nation would be better spent in building up and restoring rocky marriages, dodgy working relationships and strained parent-child bonds. But I am raging against a big machine. Everyone (including me) would rather surf the net, watch TV read Hello or heat or whatever, than make that difficult call or write that emotion-shredding letter. so we all love Jade and follow her every move instead, and our families and friendship networks limp on, when they could be so much better.
Of course it's not Jade's fault; reality TV would never have got anywhere without a public to consume it, and consume we do; Jade and her fellows are exploiting our strange desire to follow from afar, to pry without ever fearing discovery into the intimate details of a stranger's life. Jade seems to love the camera, but I truly hope and pray she has the sense to die in private and in peace.
Relationships can happen by proxy in the media - if I don't believe that what am I doing in the 'sphere, but the archetypal relationship, the ultimate intimacy, is not a cyber or virtual phenomenon; you can't know Jesus Christ just by reading about him online or in a magazine, you have to encounter him in the real world in Word, Spirit and Sacrament; this relationship is not a spectator sport, like Jade watching or Britney or Amy Winehouse or whoever.
I'm not saying they are without worth or talent or beauty, I'm just saying there are people nearer to us that need us more and won't disappoint us as much.
Here endeth the rant
(and I will probably regret this if Jade dies)