Just Another Guy with Opinions

Racism on Big Brother

Posted by shadmia on January 19, 2007


Shilpa Shetty , 31, is one of India’s most famous movie stars. She started her acting career in 1993 and has since made numerous films. She is also an AIDs activist and PETA supporter. Although she is quite popular in her native country, India, she has had very little worldwide recognition. This movie star is now at the center of an international debate over racism.


It all began when she agreed to be on the British version of the reality show, Celebrity Big Brother, and became involved with another female participant, Jade Goody, who is accused of using racist and abusive language towards her:

She has been asked whether she has “stubble” and lived in a shack.
One housemate has made derogatory remarks about Indian hygiene and said Shetty “wants to be white”.
She has been called a “dog”. Housemates refuse to learn her name, have referred to her as “the Indian” and “Miss Poppadom”
“She should f*** off home and have a “day in the slums”. She can’t even speak English.”
She has been taunted about her skin colour, accent and cooking
Jo wouldn’t eat chicken Shilpa made because she touched it with her hands

This has caused a firestorm of protest in India and has made headlines in both the British and Indian press. Both the Prime Minister of England, Tony Blair, and Gordon Brown, who is expected to succeed him, have issued statements condemning racism. Thousands of viewers have registered their disgust at the treatment Shetty has received. The news report below captures some of the issues involved:

Shetty herself has questioned the motives of her antagonist and wonders why she has been subjected to this animosity:

There have also been Financial Consequences to this controversy:

  • Carphone Warehouse suspended its sponsorship of Celebrity Big Brother as a record 36,000 people lodged complaints over alleged racism on the reality television programme.
  • The motorcycle insurance firm Bennetts said it would be dropping Danielle Lloyd, a former Miss England, from a lucrative 12-month modelling contract.
  • The Perfume Shop said it had decided to withdraw Miss Goody’s perfume, “Shh…”, from its shelves.
  • Hertfordshire police confirmed that they had launched an investigation into allegations of racism in the Channel 4 programme’s house.

Others have also offered opinions on this topic like former Celebrity Big Brother contestant Makosi and the motives of the TV station, Channel 4, has also been questioned. Some Indian newspapers, while deploring the situation with Miss Shetty, have noted that India itself still engages in it’s own form of racism.

Sky News offers this synopsis of the controversy:

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2 Responses to “Racism on Big Brother”

  1. nathanpage said

    i really dunno if what was said can be considered outright racist as opposed to just downright abuse and drivel. There was a tinge of racism but the furore is indicative of an Indian community wanting to bring this issue to the fore front.

  2. […] 2007. For her it was not an easy win. She was reduced to tears, she was made fun of, she was the object of racial remarks and yet through it all she handled herself with the dignity and poise befitting a queen. She is a […]

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