Friday, January 28, 2011

Teko Modise: Your Friendly Neighbourhood Dandy

That I know Teko Modise is a soccer player, given my feelings about that particular sport, is amazing, to put it mildly. Of course, the reason that I know who he is really has nothing to do with soccer, and more with the fact that when drunk during the World Cup, BFF3’s boyfriend would repeat his name ad nauseum. That I found this amusing says a lot about my state of inebriation during the World Cup too, but I’m pretty certain the whole country was like that.

But to be honest, if you’d placed a bunch of South African soccer player in front of me and told me to pick out Teko Modise, I’d have probably picked out him.

Okay I know that’s Kaizer Motaung Jr, but look at him, how could I not know who he is & why would I not pick him? My eyes are in working order are they not?

Either way, in more of the unprecedented, when I picked up my copy of The Times this morning, I immediately flipped it over to the Sports section. How could I not after the little picture of Teko they showed on the front page in THIS!

That outfit – and be not mistaken, it’s an outfit – defies belief. He looks like a Sandile Ndlovu osuka kwiilali zaseQoboqobo (from the villages of Qoboqobo) on his way to his matric dance, having picked out the best of the clothes Malume Thandekile got when he worked the mines of eGoli.
Having said that though, I this outfit is resplendent! Not that I’d wear it though. It breaks a basic rule of style – never wear more than one print – but by the name of her gloriousness Madonna it breaks it well.

Suffice to say, I’ll never forget who Teko Modise is or what he looks like.

Though maybe Kenny would say, “BEYOTCH JACKED MY STEEZE!”

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Joel Osteen Is A Bigot

Joel Osteen is a very friendly looking, nice fellow. Hell I’m sure more than a few people would even say he’s good-looking, unlike him.

Joel Osteen looks like the kind of guy you could sit and enjoy a buddy-buddy dinner with, perhaps even crack a beer with, unlike this guy.

But fact is, Joel Osteen is no different from either of them. Joel Osteen may smile, and sit their with Joel Osteen’s pretty little blonde wife and say, Joel Osteen doesn’t “bash” homosexuals, that Joel Osteen’s “not there to judge.”

You know, “love the sinner, hate the sin.”

That crap.

I’m not picking on Joel Osteen for no reason. Joel Osteen sells Joel Osteen as someone different, someone nicer, someone more tolerant and many people – some of whom are people I know – have bought this bull. That more than anything is why Joel Osteen has pissed me off so much right now, because when you cut through the bollocks that Joel Osteen has been peddling in that affable Southern drawl, he’s no different from the rest of them.

And you want to know another reason why Joel Osteen has pissed me right off? Joel Osteen has made me write this.

Whereas so many other interviewers would’ve let Joel Osteen off and moved on to the next question after he mouthed off peaceable sounding platitudes, Piers Morgan didn’t. He actually did his job and forced an answer from him. And for that I have to say, well done Piers Morgan.

You can watch the clip of Piers Morgan interviewing Joel Osteen & Mrs Joel Osteen on YouTube or watch the interview on CNN at 10pm tomorrow. In the interim, I’ll be hunched over a toilet-bowl hurling my dinner after paying Piers Morgan a compliment.

Friday, January 14, 2011

When ‘It’s Only A Joke’ Doesn’t Cut It

Like most black South Africans, what I know of advertising, is based primarily on Generations, through the goings on at New Horizons. Luckily for me though, I know a few people in advertising and know that though they have a shocking lack of scruples, what with their using their intelligence and talent to sell superfluous stuff to people, they’re not murderous & fornicating idiots in bad clothes. Well, come to think of it, the bad clothes still apply. Nevertheless, I’ve come to recognise that people in the ad game, more often than not, are incredibly funny and intelligent and that intelligence and humour comes across in razor sharp wit.

After four hard years of drinking and partying I finally got to walk across the stage of UCT’s Jameson Hall and get doffed on the head by a man in a funny dress, something I could’ve easily achieved for far cheaper on any given night in Cape Town’s Pink Strip, but either way it allows me to be vaguely intellectual about things I see, so let me have my say.

However, at the same time, being someone who at times has had to explain down somebody climbing onto their high horse of moral indignation at a perceived slight because of a joke, I find myself in a strange position. In writing this, I open myself to the very derisive glares and sneers that I myself give when I say, “it’s just a joke,” to those who just “don’t get it.”

1st For Woman’s ad campaigns have always had their tongues firmly placed in cheek, essentially you could sum them up to a slogan learnt by all girls in primary school, which is hardly ever truly disproven, ‘boys are stupid.’ However, there new ads, advertising a new service, a helpline for customers aren’t in that vein, and in and of themselves aren’t offensive. Having said that though, there was certainly still something about two of these ads that got to me. I went back and forth on how to describe how I felt; offended was far too strong a word, so I finally settled on, ‘uncomfortable,’ a description that fittingly I’m uncomfortable with, as it’s neither here nor there really.

In these ads, there are talking heads and the talking heads are black actors with a particular accent, the accent which the majority of black South Africans speak in, from maids to political leaders. I hate to delve into the world of ‘deconstructing & decoding,’ but that’s exactly where I’m headed. Failing to see any other place where the humour in the advertisements lay, it would seem that the ‘humour’ in the adverts lay in the accents.

This is nothing new really, after providing us cellphone tools that we just could never live without such as the X-Ray Kit, for a mere R50* companies like 35050 also gave us the, ‘Madaaaam! MADAAAM! Yoouur fooone is riiiinging,’ ringtone, just to name one example amongst many, for which the ‘humour’ was the accent.

In and of themselves, beyond their banal quality, there’s nothing offensive in these attempts at humour. However, the subtext, that there’s something funny about the accent of black South Africans trying their utmost to wrap their tongues around a foreign language. An accent that is in no way in indicator of how educated or intelligent (two things which are not related) someone is, is where I have to say – and here I go again – I’m uncomfortable.

What this particular brand of humour seems to do is to carry on a rich and long tradition in Western entertainment. From the use of blackface in early 20th century entertainment, to Prissy & Mammy, in ‘Gone With The Wind,’ right through to these ads, there is a single thick vein that connects them all, though obviously as the years have passed it’s far more subtle. Today, instead of the overt caricature being in front of us to laugh at, the caricature is now hidden behind a flimsy fa├žade, and represented through the accent.

One of course would not be incorrect to point out that it’s not just black South Africans which are pilloried in this way, Afrikaners, Cape Coloureds, Durban Indians and just about any other group also come in for their share of roasting. The very concerns and reservations that I have regarding the use black people as figures of humour could and have been expressed by any of these groups.

I deliberately opened this blog with a race-based joke, or attempted joke even. I have no issue with jokes about race, in fact having laughed at jokes about paedophilia, rape and a multitude of other ‘taboo’ topics, I’m the last person to take umbrage at a joke about race. However, if a joke is going to go down that route, it’d better be damned good, and these ads are nothing of the sort. They resort to a cheap tactic knowing that out there, the Anneline Botes’ and Steve Hofmeyrs and will be able to have a good cackle, all because “it’s just a joke.”

As I said at the outset, advertising people are not stupid, and they wouldn’t use this kind of ‘humour’ if they knew that it would turn-off the majority of their prospective customers. The ugly fact is this, it’s not only the Anneline Botes’ and Steve Hofmeyrs who laugh at these ads, it’s you’re everyday South African, be they ‘African’ or not who does and therein lies the real problem. Our laughter shows an ugly attitude within us. An attitude that feels that if your English, even if it’s not your first language, is somehow ‘less than,’ then you yourself are less than and are fair game for a cheap laugh.

Of course I may be wrong, it may ‘just be a joke,’ and I’m ‘overthinking it.’ But hey, I was doffed on the head by that dude in the funny dress, and one of the few things that did sink in during those four years is that, to put it simply, sometimes, despite whatever may be on the surface, things are not as they seem. Frankly though, you don’t need a piece of paper from a guy in a funny dress and hat to know that. I may be wrong, but I don’t think so.

*And a subscription charge of R5000 every other minute.