The death of Jade Goody last Sunday was the end to a strange saga spanning the past few months. Real life merged with her celebrity-based reality TV world. And Goody’s death has come at the most coincidental time possible. The notional ‘spend-fast’ culture – a culture that allowed her to rise up from mediocrity and draw the attention of the country through DVDs, books and perfumes – is ending fast.
Celebrity culture is waning and giving way to ‘credit crunch-mentality’ for the next few years. Goody, the human personification of this dying culture, is no more. The timing of her death has only increased our fascination with her demise – I would guess most people have cast their eye over a Goody article and found themselves reading and absorbing it. In her we see the passing of the early twenty-first century into something new.
There has been a wave of nostalgia, as well as bitterness, both for her and what she represents. Comments flooded the internet after her death with widely differing opinions. One blogger wrote, ‘Your star shines the brightest. God Bless you jade your love lives on in your boys and your star will shine bright always.’ Another internet commentator said: ‘She has left no legacy, a bit part celebrity who did nothing to improve mankind.’ The comment had 433 recommendations. Goody represented for many the highs and lows of the past few years and perhaps is one of the last of her kind.
Goody has always delivered the media a profit and, temporarily at least, she has now become an even greater cash cow. For the brief time before her death, though, it was Goody who was dictating how she was presented and for how much. Coverage of her marriage last month was sold to a magazine for £700,000. In a twist on the usual media-celebrity relationship, Goody orchestrated the entire display of her death with the exception only of the obituary.
However, her final months and final wages were not for her, but for her children. The dying Goody moved clearly away from the self-centred and decadent culture she was said to represent, hastening its death before her own. All in all, Jade Goody may not have been a very remarkable person. But in death, public opinion has made her into a symbol of the Weimarian culture of the pre-recession 2000s. Many of those who mourn for her are also mourning the loss of those happier, pre-recession days when any one of us could become ‘famous’.