Up until a few days ago when this racism row blew up, I was quite indifferent to the fact that I had not seen a single minute of this show. Now I'm quite disappointed I've missed what all the fuss is about. I am only relying on what I have heard was said from second hand sources, so bear that in the mind with what I write below.
I think there are two types of prejudice/racism going on here. And as ever these things are complex, wrapped up as they always are, with issues of class, levels of education and culture etc.
Channel 4 is wrong to say that comments made by Jade and Jackiey Goody and Danielle Lloyd (who?), etc. are not 'overtly racist'. Calling someone a 'poppadom' and asking 'do they wash their hands' clearly have racist undertones familiar to anyone who went to school in the 80s (as I did) and probably much more recently. I have heard these sorts of comments in pubs, on the street and amongst people I know as recently as a few months ago. I think the refusal to learn Shilpa Shetty's name is probably not in itself racist but demonstrates the level of inconsiderate and ignorant behavior necessary to allow racist views to develop easily.
But there is another form of prejudice going here that is outside of the house. Edwina Currie's comments on Question Time last night sum it up.
"[Shetty] is a beautiful young lady and they are slags"
For beautiful read 'middle class' and for slag read 'working class trash'.
The subtext here is that; 'of course middle class people wouldn't behave in such a nasty prejudiced way'. Middle class people might be less overt about their racism but out of sight and behind the scenes, middle class people can be just as racist, as Simone Clark and others membership of the BNP shows.
The point I want to make is that racist prejudice cuts right across our society as a whole, we cannot blame it all on isolated individuals. Their views have not developed in isolation, they have been prolonged by prejudice passed on down generations and encouraged by our irresponsible press rags.
The Sun, Daily Mail, Express, Telegraph and others, you have a lot to answer for and your mock outrage won't change the fact that these nasty views are a product of your own making.