The Z-list celebrity Gino D’Acampo (who he?) has won the TV reality show ‘I’m a celebrity, get me out of here.’ Moments after winning, he was arrested by the Australian authorities and charged with animal cruelty for allegedly killing and cooking a rat during his time on the programme.
He has claimed that the strict rice and beans diet while being ‘in exile’ forced him to catch and kill the rat, so he and his fellow contestants could have some meat with their food.
The reaction in the British press appears to be one of indignation. Puns on the word rat are being bounced around, and no doubt this will only increase Gino’s marketability… he is a TV chef after all. Though, I’d never even heard of him before this event, so as far as I am concerned he is just a TV chef who cooks rats.
There is a lot of surprise being expressed online on the blogs and in the media. How could cruelty to a rat be an offence when people like Rentokil are paid to round up and kill vermin?
Yet, the one thing many people are not asking is when did killing animals for fun become prime-time TV? These celebrities were not suffering. They were not lost in the outback starving to death and in desperate need of this rat. They just calculated that by killing and cooking a rat, it would get a few more column inches. It would serve to increase their own popularity by creating additional controversy.
They calculated correctly, but I hope their plan backfires in the long run.
This TV show uses the ‘Bush-tucker trials’ as tests, to see how far the celebrities can go to earn food or other rewards. These trials often involve being forced to eat insects or other live animals, or being covered in live animals. Since when did this abuse become entertainment?
I predict that in five or ten years, TV critics will cast an eye back on ‘I’m a Celebrity…’ and shake their heads at what we once considered entertainment for a weekend evening, rather like looking back at old footage of the Black & White Minstrel show today.