Jade Goody died in the early hours of Sunday 22nd March 2009, with her mother by her side, after a long, public battle with the terminal illness.
The details of her departure, much like her rise to fame, were documented by the media for the public eye – the very people that gave her that celebrity gig in the first place.
Jade Goody’s Rise – Reality TV: Big Brother
Jade came out of nowhere back in 2002, gaining celebrity status through her appearance on the reality-TV show Big Brother. She was immediately labeled as a happily ignorant young woman, who lacked the kind of knowledge that most of her judgmental viewers would consider common. But she had an appealing, humorous quality, and the typically popular biography of a working class girl who had an enormous stroke of luck.
The Fame, the Perfume, the Business, and Living the Dream
After her impact on Big Brother, Jade had an ongoing relationship with television and magazines. In 2007 she was ranked number 25 in a poll for the most influential person in the world. She also lent her name to a cook book, released two autobiographies, and had a fragrance named after her; Shh… Jade Goody. She also had some regular columns, and participated in public events and other television shows.
In 2007, Jade was accused of racist bullying against her fellow housemate, Bollywood actress, Shilpa Shetty, on Celebrity Big Brother 5. It damaged her reputation severely. The Perfume Shop took her fragrance off their shelves, and other sponsors involved with Channel 4 and Big Brother demanded a termination of professional relationships as a result of this famous figure showing racist behaviour on television – a mess that caused an international outcry.
How strangely poetic that the television show that created Jade ‘the celebrity’ and millionaire would be the same show responsible for her public downfall.
Jade’s Life Through the Media
Jade’s life and career since her public image began has been portrayed to the British public, through magazines, newspapers, and television. They have followed her every step of the way, through the good times, and the not-so-good times. She’s aroused contempt in many, and admiration in many more. Like most celebrities, she became the property of the public, and as a result, the media.
It was the media and the public that catapulted her into stardom, and it is they, too, that have now helplessly watched the ‘celebrity’ they helped create, make what is possibly her biggest media impact yet.
As a result of her cervical cancer, Jade has raised awareness of the disease, and so has encouraged women all over the country to have regular smear tests, and she kick-started the push to have the minimum age for tests to be dropped from 25 to 20.
A New Age of Fame and Celebrity
Jade is an example of what the ever-changing meaning of ‘celebrity’ has become recently, especially in this first decade of the 21st Century. People can achieve fame through the most unusual routes, from simply appearing in a sex-scandal video, to entering a house fitted with television cameras for the whole planet to glare at when they probably have more important things to do. Of course, this has turned people that may otherwise be considered talentless, into famous millionaire playboys and playgirls. But what other direction could we have taken, with a world that is getting smaller, and where everything is happening faster?
Jade Goody – the First ‘New Celebrity’
And Jade Goody? She was the first of the New Celebrities in the UK. Her story and rise to fame in the public eye could never have been deliberately manipulated to such detail from the very beginning. It just happened. She was fortunate. And why not?
So now, not even a decade later, there are millions of Jade wannabes, desperately wanting to gain a super-star status through nothing but the exposure of just ‘being themselves’. Jade has marked the spot where it all began, certainly with regards to celebrities; a new millennium, a new digital age, a shift in popular culture and the birth of the New Celebrity.
A Sad End for Jade
And the person that epitomized this leap forward to such a high degree, especially in Britain, has now departed from this world, after a tough struggle with cervical cancer. She was extremely ill, with very little hope in the pipeline during her final days.
But the hope was there, nonetheless… It had to be.
Her status and what she achieved left some people untouched and wondering how she ever got so much coverage in the first place, and some others applauding her and watching her story unfold with anticipation.
Now she has passed, and it hardly seems real. What began as a party on television, with nothing serious to be concerned with, has ended in the deepest misfortune.
Whatever category she is placed in, whether she was loved or loathed, her ultimate situation, especially for her family, is one of great sadness and loss.