Jade Goody’s legacy

23Mar09

This post was originally published on the Edelman ‘how to kill a pheasant’ ning.

I shouldn’t have to start a post with an explanation, but I feel in this instance, it is due.

Firstly, I am not a Jade Goody – the reality TV star fan. I don’t even like Big Brother or any of the drivel that fills our tele screens on a daily basis.

What I do find interesting though is cause and effect. With the relentless media coverage that Jade’s cancer has achieved, many people have questioned her motivation, dignity and ethics over her approach to dealing with her own crisis. I am not here to judge (well maybe a little bit) but when I hear people saying that cancer is a private thing and that she should not be sharing her death with the nation I think people have failed to recognise the (unintended) result.

When initially queried as to why she was spending her dying days in the media spotlight, she emphasised that this was because she wanted to raise enough money for her sons while she still can. Good for her, but this is not the point I am trying to raise.

Jade Goody has never admitted to being the sharpest knife in the drawer and yet she has created a legacy that has become far bigger than she could have guessed. The media diary of her decline in health has tactfully made the younger generation more aware of death than they ever normally would (luckily). The fortunate fact of the matter is that people do not consider death at such a young age, many people will not have come face-to-face with it and hopefully will not for some time to come. And yet, here they are being told about how fragile life is on a daily basis through all kinds of media channels.

Which brings me back to her legacy.

There has been a 25% increase in the number of women having smear tests in the past few months, Max Clifford today is handing a petition to 10 Downing Street asking them to reduce the age restriction on tests from 25 to 20. This is Jade’s legacy – someone who through tragedy has saved lives.

Of course, none of this could ever have happened with the change in media consumption that we ‘enjoy’ nowadays. I am not a Jade Goody fan but I find it compelling and fascinating how an unintended benefit has fallen on the nation from someone who, let’s face it, has often been mocked.

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