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Culture, Reality

Feed the Tree

by Brandon Edmonds / 04.10.2011

If there was a metaphor tree, you know, a tree where metaphors grow, South Africa would be it’s tap root system, water table and sunlight. You can’t glance at News24 without being bonked on the head, Newton’d, by a metaphor. Khanyi Mbau’s nude twitter candids? Metaphor = the erosion of traditional beliefs and culture-printed restraint amongst happening black women on the go. A Mandela family reality-TV show? Metaphor = the morphing of the Struggle into spectacle, the branding of noble suffering, the relentless superficiality of public life. The Dalai Lama denied a Visa yet again? Metaphor = the decade-long Chinese re-colonization of Africa. Mark Esterhuysen’s eff-laden rant? The frustration of Generation Y’s web-revved resentment of old media, with its self-serving “ethics & objectivity” exposed by Wikileaks and the Murdoch phone-tapping scandal as a smokescreen, an excuse to dissemble and distort. And the tourist turned into a predator power snack in Fish Hoek? Metaphor = wild Africa isn’t Hammersmith or New England: you visit, you heed warning signs and take care. Or else. Heart of darkness shit.

Anyway here’s another one for the metaphor heap. SABC programming is not good. I could have reached for an adjective off the top shelf – execrable, disastrous, grim but really how much more rhetoric and public cash can be thrown at the problem at this point? Just dynamite Auckland Park HQ and let’s start again. Maybe use all the money it takes to keep the behemoth in air-conditioning, B-grade foreign content and team-building weekends away for, I don’t know, seeding fearless new media companies, mining local stories for exhilarating narrative drama, funding enlightening socially grounded entertainment ventures that people actually want to see: a year in the life of Kenny Kunene, a week following Patricia De Lille, a night on the trauma unit of Baragwanath. Instead it’s soap opera and dance competitions. The endless repetition of movies that weren’t that good the first time round. Shrill adverts shilling toilet cleaner and burgers. Public broadcasting so sterile, so defanged, so demeaning, dull and laughably out of touch with it’s audience it keeps shitty neighborhood video stores in business. And finally a metaphor that nutshells the situation perfectly.


On a yet to be fleshed out and investigated, highly suspicious little jaunt over in London a pair of “senior SABC officials”, as various news sources put it, with an alleged “R400 000 allowance”, were arrested after reneging on an agreed on an amount for sex with prostitutes. Wait. Hold up. Before we get to that, how much did you say the allowance was!? 400k. Walk around money. Bang hookers money. London Eye catch a West End show maybe dine at the Fat Duck money. Hey fuck you, okay. Caught-that-morning Norwegian salmon aint cheap at Harrods. We deserve Harrods salmon. We’ve earned nice things. Not that Pick ‘n Pay shit. For being such great public broadcasters. For being such a beacon of the possibilities of public-funded media. For getting the difficult task of raising the level of public discourse in a developing nation with a broken skilling and education system, with an absent reading culture, with so many problems in maths and science and literacy, so right. Right? We’ve earned this little break in the big smoke. So what if it’s money siphoned from the fiscus, money citizens and corporations have paid in good faith? What’s the point of it all if we can’t go large in London?

Whores kicked up a fuss. Imagine the accents if you will. “Excuse me? Not paying? What am I? Your sister? This don’t come cheap Mister. Stay right there bruv. Yo Carmen! Carmen! Call the police! We’ve got more of them limp dick SABC no-payers here! Shame innit?” You don’t mess with a hooker. You can’t finesse the books with them. You play, you pay. Now this is the most heat and light the broadcaster has generated since Tutu at that Fifa Opening Ceremony. An event that turned the whole country into a passing expensive lay! Oof. Zing. To the metaphor then.

Pimped by our public broadcaster, it has turned us into hookers. We want to get paid. Paid in enlightenment, in entertainment, in challenge and distraction. We want an SABC that delivers thrills, laughs and edification. We want value for license fees. But the broadcaster won’t pay. Refuses to give us what we want. The whole incident suggests that brilliant 1970’s satire on broadcast-TV, Network. In it a disgruntled news anchor, turned shaggy truth-telling prophet, tells viewers to get up and go to their windows and yell “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” I propose something similar. Get up right now and go to the window. And yell: “Get fucked SABC!”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    kenny does in fact have a reality show. on sabc

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  2. SACB says:

    You do realise that the SABC is a government operation, and that in your socialist utopia the government would cast an SABC-like pall of mediocrity, non-accountability and cronyism over all areas of human endeavour. You can see why this might be a bad thing right? If you really want to piss of the SABC, get DSTV, cash in on a Drifta for a few hundred bucks, plug it into your laptop or PC and you’ll have lots of TV and no license fees. Better yet, chuck your TV out the window and write a book already.

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  3. SihleMthembu says:

    Loved Network nice one Brandon

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  4. Shrimp says:

    @SABC Miss the point much?

    Ps You still gotta pay a TV license even if you have DSTV.

    PPS – I reckon Edmonds has DSTV already.

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  5. Lindokushle says:

    Kenny’s show is on Etv

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  6. SACB says:

    @Shrimp – you need a SABC TV license to buy a DSTV decoder? Shit – the fuckers have thought of everything. Default to throwing away TV set then. Just beware – the SABC is almost as good as Readers Digest when it comes to sending you final demand letters 17 years after you have cancelled your service. If Osama Bin Laden had ever registered for an SABC license they would have tracked him down within a week of 9/11.

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  7. pergatory says:

    would be hillarious if it wernt so tragic. what can we do that will get through to them? i’ve not seen any detailed plans with timelines as to how to get out of this mess…so it seems we gonna suffer through it for many years still…

    Dear Lord, I want a local film and TV industry that makes quality shows and then screens them to the nation. Please Lord, please grant us this miracle here.

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  8. SACB says:

    The solution. Scrap public broadcaster, create private broadcasters that are allocated share of license fees depending on viewing numbers – Nobody watches you get no money. Only problem is we will end up with 498 hours of live gospel music, gospel reality shows and gospel talk shows a month, with another 120 hours of soccer but at least it is democratic.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    SACB, let me enlighten you…NOBODY should be paying a single cent for any TV license. Let advertising pay for the service. If these moronic fuckin cretins could run this company even 1% as well as Multichoice they’d have a service. They can’t. As per fucking usual it’s the same greedy parasitic fools abusing the system. There is no current way around their pathetic piece of shit license. I don’t have DSTV, nor SABC. I have a TV that only has a DVD player attached to it. I still have to pay these thieves.
    The fact is all I hear is the need for job creation, but then all I see is corruption, mismanagement and poor programming. Talk is cheap in this country. As Batman put it, don’t judge a man by what he says, judge him by what he does. These fucking idiots has DESTROYED the local TV and film industry. Put thousands of actors, production companies out of work.

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  10. Batman says:

    *fucking idiots have…

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  11. Up says:

    Has anybody else noted that Edmonds has this fetish for metaphor? I’d say like 50% – 70% of his articles are about taking something that happened in the news, and then finding a pop-cultural metaphor for it.

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  12. christopher steenkamp says:

    sweet piece brandon, we’re busy busting out a comedy sketch pilot and our research concurs with your grievances- there’s so little local stuff- and it doesn’t cost all that much to produce

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  13. brandon says:

    nice good luck christopher I hope it gets aired and doesn’t suck

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  14. Syd willow says:

    Great piece. Graduated from film production at uct last year. Went to a honours invitation ceremony asked why we couldn t focus on documentary, official uct response: you going to end up working in television so we have to teach you multi cam. I got the fuck out of there. Fuck the sabc.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    Btw, the oke who got chowed by the shark was a saffer, went to Bishops. Don’t believe everything the media tell you…

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  16. Donal Davern says:

    Network a must-see film – to think films like that USED to win academy awards…

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  17. RHCP says:

    throw away your television
    take the noose off your ambition
    reinvent your intuition now
    it’s a repeat of a story told
    it’s a repeat and it’s getting old

    renegades with fancy gauges
    slay the plague for it’s contagious
    pull the plug and take the stages
    throw away your television now

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  18. Avijit says:

    Hi Thalita,Checked it out now. Wow, that would be something hey. It’s amaizng to see all the countries who are involved in the Got Talent’ franchise Even countries like Albania, Moldova, Estonia it’s very interesting. And of course, you have your bigger countries joining the USA and UK, like France, Italy, Australia, Brazil and India I’ll look forward to World’s Got Talent for sure.Now, we must just make sure that South Africa gets in there! So come on guys, if you’d like to see SA’s Got Talent in 2012, post a comment and let’s get the word out there!

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