Scarlette Douglas, of 'Good Morning Britain,' didn't mince her words in a scathing commentary on her one-time jungle companion Matt Hancock, signaling a definitive end to their off-screen relationship.
Matt Hancock, the former health secretary, is a prime example of a political figure whose image underwent a significant makeover thanks to reality television. His stint on "I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!" has been a talking point not just for viewers but also for his former campmates. The latest to speak out is Scarlette Douglas, who fired shots at Hancock, making it clear that while she has maintained connections with other contestants through a WhatsApp group, she has no such contact with Hancock.
Hancock - who is no stranger to a feud - and his participation in the jungle reality show could be seen as an attempt at "jungle-washing," a term coined to describe politicians who enter the show vilified and exit as seemingly regular people. While in the jungle, Hancock didn't stand out for any particular personality trait or act. Yet, viewers ended up seeing him in a different light, propelling him to a top-three finish. This phenomenon speaks to a curious aspect of audience psychology: given a chance, people tend to steer away from the expected role of a jeering crowd, especially when it feels orchestrated. Instead, they find their fairer sides, and the hate dissipates.
This effect is not limited to Hancock; it has been observed with other politicians like Ann Widdecombe and Boris Johnson, who have also appeared on reality TV. Widdecombe's participation in "Strictly Come Dancing" softened her image from a stern politician to a quirky aunt figure, despite her unchanged views. Boris Johnson, who recently announced his third child, has appeared on "Have I Got News For You". These appearances were transformational, turning his public persona from that of a politician to a lovable clown. These appearances often lead to a disconnect between the politician's public responsibilities and their more affable television persona.
Hancock's case, as discussed by Scarlette Douglas and other commentators, adds to the discourse about the implications of politicians participating in entertainment shows. Douglas's remarks suggest a skepticism about Hancock's genuineness during his time on the show, given the omnipresence of cameras. She shared how she approached Hancock with a message of unity while in the jungle but also expressed relief at no longer having to interact with him.
The debate over "jungle-washing" and the impact of television on the perception of politicians is a fascinating one which raises questions about the sincerity of their portrayals and the potential for misleading the public. Hancock's transformation from a politician associated with controversies during the pandemic to a reality show favorite underscores the power of media and its ability to reshape reputations.