Monday, March 23, 2009

Jade Goody: The Pros and the Cons

I am by no means a biographer, a critic, nor a fan of the recently deceased Jade Goody. Nor do I care too much, in all honesty. However, I am writing this blog not as a means of celebrating her very controversial life, but as a means of bringing to light what is ultimately the end of a massively overcooked, if not roasted, media frenzy that has surrounded the woman since she found out that she had terminal cervical cancer. Make no mistake about it, her efforts in battling the disease were commendable, but this is finally one topic that will soon be laid to rest for good.

It's no secret that Goody was constantly seen in the public eye since she first participated in the popular Big Brother series back in 2002. She was loathed by the general public for her apparent lack of general knowledge, to the extent that she even called East Anglia, a region in Eastern England, East Angular; and also questioned whether the place was in England or not. Since then, she never looked back and went from strength to strength, despite being a controversial figure due to the fact that she would also come up with the occasional petulant or insulting remark. In 2007, for instance, on Celebrity Big Brother, she racially insulted a famous Indian personality, something that she was much criticised for.

Therefore, what was all the hype about this woman? One didn't have to be a genius to figure that she had a poor upbringing and was grossly uneducated in many a sense. Perhaps the only reason why this person became a sensation in the United Kingdom was because it gave other people hope that they too could achieve fame and fortune and make it to the top, and become a 'success story' like Jade. Uneducated she might have been though, but stupid she sure wasn't - riding on the waves of her ever-growing popularity, Jade essentially sold the rights to her life to Living TV, who had permission to film her and her daily doings at all times. From nothing, the woman became a reality TV star. A decent way of making a living, but the whole thing stank of intellectual prostitution. From a woman who wasn't really affecting anyone's lives, we now had a woman who was forced on the TV at Prime Time hours, hence making people see what she's really about. And that was a massive turn off.

That's probably the reason why not everyone was entirely sympathetic when the world found out that she had cervical cancer. The fact that she continued filming her reality TV series despite the illness reeked of trying to get the most money possible before she passed away, and she didn't deny this, stating that it was all for her children, and so that they would have a better upbringing than she did. Fair enough, but was she actually considering her children before this ordeal actually occurred, or did they only come into mind when she found out that her cancer was at an advanced stage? I'm of the latter school of thought, to be quite honest. At a tangent, as well, while she wanted to marry the love of her life, Jack Tweed, before she passed away, was his criminal record a consideration when one considers the children's upbringing - because although they were fathered by a different man, Tweed would invariably still form part of their formation years, one would think. If this case happened in Malta, under Article 67 of the Civil Code, he would certainly have to - for the husband is presumed to be the father of his wife's children.

The fact that she continued to pose for photographs and film while she was dying was a definite moral wrong. Exploiting such pain and suffering to the public was only done to make people express sympathy at, and empathise with, Jade's grave situation. And while although I never did watch an episode from Jade's elaborate life, and never too do I intend to do so for that matter, I can only imagine that it did not make suitable watching for all ages - adults included. Indeed, it was only towards the very end, when she knew that her death was near, that she finally decided to call it a day and stop all the filming. I, and many others too, I feel, would have done so much earlier provided we were in such a situation - God forbid it ever happened.

There were a couple of positives that came out of Goody's life, however, before she passed away yesterday. First and foremost, cancer awareness in the UK was raised, bucking the trend of it being on the decline. In fact, 20% more women than prior to Jade finding out she had cervical cancer are now doing smear tests, and the Government is considering revising its laws banning smear tests on women aged 25 and under. Indeed, prevention is better than cure and undoubtedly, Goody was a massive ambassador in raising awareness on the matter. The second commendable thing that she did, a few days before she died, was that she and her sons became Christians. It was a refreshing thing to see a reality TV star welcome the Lord our God into her life with open arms and to help her overcome her struggles and carry her cross. There is no doubt that now, despite her controversial nature, she is being welcomed into the hands of the Lord as you read this.

To conclude, while her death was welcome in the sense that her pain and suffering were finally finished, it also helped close a chapter that started to rule people's lives in Britain and worldwide. There is no doubt that this woman had some kind of an impact on society in general, which subsequently led to a media frenzy covering all aspects of her life from A to Z. It was something that might have given people hope to aspire for great things, but it was also something that was totally immoral and was over-publicised, especially in the days leading up to her death, where she should have received the most privacy. Ultimately, Jade Goody was a media magnet, and now, undoubtedly, there will be a lull in the press until they find another one.

God Bless You all!

Friday, March 13, 2009

The End of an Era?

It's my first blog in over a month, and in typical me style, it's not going to be a thrilling, happy one to say the least. Actually, it's going to be one that takes a rather morose note, because the end of an era might have truly come - as of a couple of days ago. For Italian football, at least. Never have I witnessed such a disastrous campaign in the Champions League and the UEFA Cup combined, to the extent that Italy's only representative in any European competition is now Udinese, And even they, I believe, will soon witness the end of their (honourable) run in Europe, as they will face Zenit St. Petersburg, who are the defending champions, in the last 16 of the UEFA Cup, despite winning 2-0 yesterday.

When the draws for the Champions League were made in December, Inter boss Jose Mourinho stated that his team deserved the best as a punishment for finishing 2nd in the weakest group of all in the initial stage of the Champions League. And he got what he asked for, for his side drew Manchester United in the last 16. A few years back, I wouldn't have complained one bit because United were never really European challengers, just like Inter, but these last few years it has been a different story - in the last two years, they've reached a semi-final and won the competition. And, just for the record, this is possibly the best United side of all time that Inter had to face. Far from easy, I would say, and in fact, I feared for the worst from the outset. My fears were correct - Inter went on to lose 2-0 overall, although they were unlucky to say the least after playing well at Old Trafford and hitting the woodwork twice.

Juventus also showed that they lacked a certain European pedigree when they lost out to Chelsea. There's no doubt in my mind that injuries almost certainly played a big part in Juve's defeat to the Blues, and that they too were unlucky to not score at Stamford Bridge; but they eventually lost out to a Chelsea side that has looked reinvented under Guus Hiddink. I believe that had Big Phil Scolari still been there, Chelsea might have been sent crashing out of the competition, but alas - it was not to be. The returning Michael Essien's goal was the sucker punch for the Old Lady, as with that goal, they really needed to go out and chase the game down in order to progress. Over and above that, Chiellini's red card was harshly given after he got the ball before the player, something which disadvantaged Juve further. Personally, I thought that Belletti's handling of the ball in the box was more worthy of a booking - be it yellow or red - rather than Chiellini's tackle.

It was then left for Roma to pick up the bits and restore some of Italy's pride, and even though they too didn't manage, they were the closest to progressing from the Italian trio. Managing to score early against Arsenal due to Juan's goal, i Lupi could and should have had more goals to their name, but didn't manage. Extra time - which would have been fatal for the Capital side had it conceded a goal, as then Arsenal would have had the away goal and Roma would have had to score two to win - couldn't separate the two sides, and so it came down to the penalty shootout. Surprisingly, the people who normally score their penalties were the ones who initially missed - Eduardo and Vucinic. The latter in particular needs to be taught something about penalties from youth level, I believe, for his strike was the poorest penalty I have ever seen in my life. Ultimately, Roma lost the tie after Max Tonetto skied the last shot well over the bar, en route to Venus. However, yet again, credit must be given to Roma, who managed to outrun and outshine the Gunners despite having an injury-ravaged squad.

Which brings me to my initial question - is this the end of an era for Italy? I believe that disappointment obviously reigns supreme at the moment, but the Italian era is not yet over. It is a fact that the Premier League trounced Serie A 3-0, but it is also a fact that in each of these games, all Premier League sides were run mightily close by their Italian counterparts. In Inter's case, losing 2-0 to the World, European and Premiership champions isn't shameful in the least, especially after creating a multitude of chances that were begging to be converted. The English media might be saying that United dominated the nerazzurri, but witnessing the game from an Italian perspective certain derives different answers. Juventus and Roma, on the other hand, also firmly give it their all and were ultimately just unlucky at the end of the day - be it with injuries, decisions given against them or not converting their chances. It is clear that these sides just need one or two more quality signings to compete with the best. So yes, it might have been 3-0 to the Premier League, but it could have just as easily been 3-0 to Serie A.

Also, something that might be worth noting is that the Italian culture is slowly changing and evolving, as more and more teams - barring Milan, generally - are employing youthful players on the pitch. Juventus in particular have been advocators of this approach, as can be seen through exciting talents such as De Ceglie, Giovinco and Chiellini; and sides such as Inter - with Santon and Balotelli in particular - and Roma - with established talents from their own youth system, like De Rossi and Aquilani - are following suit. This wasn't the case until a few years ago. On the other hand, the Premier League is now so money-orientated that teams are simply buying the best players or talents from anywhere around the globe in order to try and attain instant success. One doesn't have to look further than Manchester City for such an example. Hence, at the end of the day, such an era might be coming, or has come, to a close; but a new, bright one is almost certainly on the horizon if that's the case.

God Bless You all!