What is real?
The last time I was in England, the country was all-a-twitter about a young woman named “Jade Goody.” Apparently, she was a real Walter Mitty story. Her star rose when she first appeared on the UK’s version of the reality show, Big Brother. It seems as though her lack of sophistication and naivete along with her simple, yet potent honesty captured the hearts of many Brits. They saw in her a vision of themselves, someone who was just plain folk, whose innocent and unpolished attitude towards life mirrored their own to greater or lesser extent. When she left Big Brother she was offered her own cosmetics line and other residuals that lifted her far out of her previous social and economic milieu. She had become a star.
But when I had arrived she was on Big Brother for her second go round and had gotten into a nasty cat fight with an attractive, young, Indian actress. Apparently, Jade’s “honesty” crossed over some tasteful lines regarding the other woman and Jade was quickly cast into being a racist and was first voted off the show, then had nearly all of her endorsements removed from her. It seemed quite sad actually that she could rise so fast and then fall so quickly. Well, Jade’s story just took another, decidedly more grim turn.
I was perusing The Guardian Online the other day and I found out that she has terminal cancer and is now back in the spotlight, loved again, celebrated for her courage as she basically bares her soul on TV and The Internet so that she can derive enough money from her long goodbye for her
daughters two sons future. As I saw her bald-headed visage, I was really stunned. Then, I remembered a movie I had seen many years ago called “Deathwatch” by Bertrand Tavernier.
The basic premise of “Deathwatch” is that it takes place in the-not-too-distant future and in that future, people have lost the ability to feel and live vicariously through the experiences of others on television, particularly a show called “Deathwatch” where a person who has some form of terminal illness is befriended by someone and unbeknownst to them, they are capturing their every emotion, every thought, every move. Their experience is then broadcast so that the collective can experience what it’s like to feel.
Romy Schneider plays “Katherine” a woman who is told that she has terminal cancer and is befriended by Harvey Keitel, a producer of the show who replaces one of his eyes with a small camera, capturing every moment he can as she grapples with her oncoming demise. Trying to come to grips with her mortality, she ventures into the countryside with Keitel in tow. Her honesty and vulnerability are a ratings boon, but they also make Keitel question his role as a man who has sacrificed his vision for the reward of voyeuristic immediacy. Katherine eventually wanders into a grocery store where a clerk greets her with tears and this encounter forces Katherine to understand what is really taking place. The irony is that once she met Keitel, walked away from her life and confronted her mortality, she became more alive than ever. But then the betrayal kicks in and to make matters even worse, Keitel tells her that the doctor lied and told she had cancer because he was in on the production. Once Katherine hears this, she no longer wants to live and her her subliminally imposed condition kicks in. She dies.
The film is beyond prescient, especially in the light of Jade Goody’s very public demise.
This represents the shadow side of the cusp between Aquarius and Pisces, as well as the strange co-mingling of Uranus in Pisces and Neptune in Aquarius where the real and unreal melt together in ways that bend reality. Reality TV becomes reality and reality becomes Reality TV. The Obama election was something similar, a self-generating prophecy where we saw a man reach deific heights, the illusion of Pisces/Neptune, fused with the cross-platform media saturation of Aquarius/Uranus. The veil between the two is so thin and permeable now.
When I saw Goody, I even had to wonder how much of her illness could have been caused by how people turned on her and the immense ill will she experienced at the hands of many who thought that she betrayed their trust, faith and love in her. Almost like sympathetic black magic, did the public’s toxic reaction to Goody hasten her demise? Did Goody’s system become overtaxed due to stress and living what seems to be an unhealthy and fairly debauched life as a reality star?
It’s all very strange and sad to me, yet par for the course in a world where the line between various realms gets thinner and thinner with each passing day.