Celeb Jungle 2022

What a weird overwhelming sensory explosion it was to see Matt Hancock – sitting MP and ex-UK Health Minister – on our screens in the light-hearted programme: I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here!

Matt Hancock – THE Matt Hancock – who lived on our screens right through the pandemic!  The covid-face of the UK Government – the rule teller – the advice giver – the wash-your-hands doer – the stay-at-home maker – the “you will die” fear-bringer.  And there he was in a jungle in Australia with a bunch of celebs.  Our annual light-entertainment on the run-up to Christmas! What a confusing and contradictory sensory explosion that was for one and all – especially the other celeb “campmates” already there.

Yet how soon – how sadly – how depressingly he became a figure of derision and disgust to his campmates.  All of them “celebs” – each with their own personal reason for spending three weeks with only minimal luxuries – without any digital keeping-in-the-loop – with daily trials to earn a (very odd) daily dinner.  All of them (primarily) there for the massive fee being paid (and the exposure on national television).  And yet how soon they were back-stabbing and ridiculing – demonising and disgusted – smiling to his face and speaking ill behind him.  I found myself seeing more and more just another human being abused with the age-old justification that “he deserves it”.

I have my fair share of anger for his part in the covid years.

But if I break that anger down with compassion and logic – it is for my “neighbours” and the strangers who crossed my path who just had to break the rules.  It is for those who denied the death, pain and suffering as some global conspiracy.  It is for the carnage – physical, financial and mental.  It is for the unfairness of being held hostage to something which made us all impotent masters of our universes.  It is for the pain for all those grieving in isolation, all those giving birth in isolation, all those in physical/mental pain and isolated from their loved ones, for the instilled fear of my own death, for instilling that fear in me towards our innocent grandchildren – unknowing innocents who I was told would bring my death with just one breath of theirs, and an irrational anger at being wrapped in cotton-wool by those who kept their freedom.

My anger is for all of that – and “Matt Hancock” was simply a convenient lamppost on which to cock my unthinking leg.

My compassion is for the scientists who found a vaccine.  The government machinery that brought me my vaccination not once but now four times.  The government machinery that kept so many financially solvent.  That kept so many safe. It is for all those fallible and flawed human beings suddenly pinned in the spotlight they once craved and now couldn’t avoid.  The “them” expected to fix it for the “us”.  I have great compassion for so many who died.  For so many more who still grieve those deaths – for so many who are suffering long-covid still – for those whose treatment was suspended – for those now diagnosed with life-threatening conditions that were not diagnosed sooner – for those crushed by the shattered economy – for all those ruined lives – the real homes re-possessed – the real futures withered.  For all of us who coped with something we had thought until that reality only a Hollywood cinematic fiction.

And my (recent) compassion for Matt Hancock – just another unwittingly soul caught up in all of that and doing their confused best. No less flawed and fallible than me. No less different to me and all of us.

And yet the more I see comments from those like me watching this annual light entertainment, the more I see a similar growing kindness. I see a growing anger at the hypocrisy and judgement of his campmates.  I see that word “bullying” being used more and more about their behaviour.  I see a shared growing disappointment from us who are watching towards those “celebs” in camp who ate the plentiful meals earned by Mr Hancock in the “trials” – but resent the human being “earning” the food.

I see a group of celeb camp mates who thought we, the great British Public, would do as we should: vote Mr Hancock for every scary trial for his entire duration in the camp – and then terminate that duration by evicting him at the very first opportunity.

Neither have happened.

He faced the daily trials and won loads of meals without a flicker of fear – and now other camp mates are being voted to face the daily trial for meals (and are failing miserably in the main). And come the first (and second) vote-off … ?  Being evicted from camp and the show was other celebs and not Matt Hancock. Without our access to the daily show and media commentary – the campmates will be struggling to make sense of it all. Odd thing this “popularity” we think we understand and so often crave.

I read in the bible of one who was more than popular.  Who was named The Messiah.  Who was God made man!  And who was then “voted off” at the first opportunity.  “Evicted from camp” against the alternative: a convicted murderer.  Not just voted off – but then nailed to a cross (and all within a breath or two of being so very, very popular).  And now we see the reverse. One who was demonised and despised until a breath or two ago – now seen with a growing compassion and kindness.

Isn’t it utterly fantastic that we ordinary human beings have such a depth of humanity for a fellow human that we can find kindness where none existed before?

How we find compassion for this demonised despised media creation when he steps out of his image and becomes more real?  How we can read of another who was real but then made into a demonised despised media creation and who died nailed to a cross.

An image is a creation of those with an agenda.  Read the bible and there is much imagery and much “agenda”.  Yet take away the agenda and all that is left is real.   

If we allow.