Last night, I read this thoughtful, moving post on Salon’s Broadsheet about Jade Goody, a 27-year old U.K. reality show star and tabloid celebrity who’s dying of cervical cancer. I confess I hadn’t heard of Goody before. Still, her story is unbelievable: She was on a popular Brit version of Big Brother, wrote an autobiography, launched a perfume, and starred on another, celebrity version of Big Brother where she insulted a Bollywood star and consequently got chastised by future prime minister Gordon Brown. Salon describes her as a “a love-her or hate-her working-class hero, combining the brashness of Roseanne Barr, the intellect of Jessica Simpson and the shameless self-promotion of Paris Hilton, all in the body of a female wrestler.”
Last year, Goody found out she had cervical cancer – she got the news on air while appearing on an Indian version of Big Brother. Since then, she’s starred in a series of reality specials about her treatment and become a different kind of tabloid fixture. The latest news has been grim: Goody’s cancer is terminal and she announced that she’d be marrying her boyfriend in a ceremony on Sunday that will be televised, of course. She’s been quoted as saying she’s trying to make as much money as possible for her two young sons. American audiences can only really see the Goody saga through endless YouTube clips (one is embedded below). But how many of you out there have been following her story? What do you think: Is she being exploitative? Brave? Or both?