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Schuks Tshabalala

Schuks Tshabalala

by Mlungu Wasekapa / 19.08.2010

I watched Leon Shitster’s new film Schuks Tshaba-blah-blah and made some notes. I only call him “shitster” because I’m jealous.  Jealous that most hit films in the history of South Africa are Schuster films. Jealous because he seems to be having way too much fun to be making the money he makes while I’m still stuck writing for Mahala. And under a pseudonym. Intentionally installed to protect myself from the vitriolic abuse so easily dished out on Mahala comment boards.
In Grahamstown (and sick of “the arts”) I smoked a fat one and was inevitably too late for the new Twilight instalment. What to see? Toy Story 3? Being a patriotic Saffa, I put my “research and local investment” cap on and bought a ticket to Schuks Tshabalala’s Survival Guide to SA. Eish. Double Eish! 

Leon Schuster is a national treasure (a label we assign reluctantly) and even a tool (far more readily) for social reconciliation. How so? Well he’s been trading in broad South African caricature since Apartheid architects still sincerely believed their ideology was a beacon of humanity in a dark and backward world. The man has longevity. He’s an example of what is possible in life. No matter how kak your film-making and acting may be – with an OK idea that’s somewhat socially relevant (and occasionally funny) – even a soutie van brakpan af can get his films into cinemas and become a multi-millionaire.  
In a complex nod to reality programming, Schucks plays the actor behind “himself” (Leon S as Leon S) just hanging out on set with Shorty (the creepy tokoloshe-like guy in all his films). Then amidst his usual candid camera style skits (some of which I must admit had me and the whole audience crying with laughter – the snake loose in the office – OMG!), Leon decides to become a “black tour guide” for international tourists during the World Cup. Skits pass showing Helen Zille in a great light and Allan Boesak in a shocking light – and even Rob Van Vuuren in a light which leaves one a bit confused – was he part of a plan to out “Schuks”? Or was it clever thinking from a brilliant performer who so far in the skit had painted himself as a bit of, no lets make that, one hell of a doos? Such are the mental wrangles invited by this opus.

You can often tell the quality of a film by the adverts chosen to precede them.  If it feels like the “half-price” bin at the local Musica was ransacked, three B-grade trailers pass your vision in a row, there’s a real good chance that Dolph Lundgren is going to be the main character in the film you are about to watch.

First up was Letters to Juliet about a young American on holiday in Italy falling in love with another white guy – thereby leaving her nice Italian boyfriend (Gael Garcia Bernal). Glaring subtext being nice guy Italian boyfriend is sweet and all but nowhere near as suitable as another blonde blue-eyed American guy for Sophie’s true love. Leave the sleazy Hispanic dude to his restaurant while you and young blue eyes romp around the Italian countryside trying to help two octogenarians hook up!
Then I Now Pronounce You Black and White” – a new local comedy – which actually looked like it had potential. Again it seemed to imply that “inter-racial” cross-cultural marriages are just not a good idea. They are hard to maintain and destined to fail – just an invitation for trouble. Message: Stick to your own kind – it’s the right thing to do. Both trailers implied curiosity across cultural and colour lines goes against the grain. This subtext challenges my relationship – as a whitey in love with a darkie. Eish! Eat that, post-colonial Freudians!  


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  1. boetie soetmelk says:

    Dude, if you’re going to remind us of how kak our taste in movies and how dire the state of cinema in SA is, then please don’t do it in half measures. If there was ever a need for full-scale mahala-style vitriol, this is it. Subtlety in the face of product displaying a total lack thereof does not cut it.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    I agree with Boetie – let’s slam the slam-worthy properly.

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  3. RiaanP says:

    Thankfully it was a short read. 😉

    Watching a Shucks movie is not like watching an M. Knight Shamalamalamalamalaman movie. You know what you’re going to get. The thing that amazes me about him is that he can stick so closely to that proven recipe, every single time.

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  4. Numpty says:

    Well the recipe wouldn’t be proven if it didn’t work more often than not. Just sayin’.

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  5. boetie soetmelk says:

    Yeah Numpty, what does “work” mean in this case? Should we read it in the same way that Zyklon B “worked” for the Nazis or that the new media tribunal will “work” for government interests? There is a hollow argument that Schuster’s movies provide “work” for people in the media industry, much I suppose in the same way that prostitution provides “work” for women in need of an income. Mighty noble, isn’t it?

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  6. creepy steve says:

    You can often tell the quality of a film by the adverts chosen to precede them. with this south african survival advertvertisment you can tell the quality of the film by the product placement which is abundant and leads me to believe that old leon is’nt as dumb as everyone makes out; “if they hate then let them hate and watch the money pile up”. watch again it’s unashamedly ad’s all over spur outsurance whatever. maybe struggling film makers can learn a thing or two about buisness savvy from him or maybe the parlowtones just beat him too it

    at riaanp
    i think this film is a return to the basic formula and thats why it rules! mama jack and all the other recent ones were too much story crap not enough of leon getting the old poes klap

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  7. Laz says:

    The best local movie i watched was a blue movie called Doris does Daveyton

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  8. Fran says:

    They are not actors i like leon,s movies they are just jalers you go leon

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  9. Learnmore says:

    Im 1 of extras in schucks shabalala a Rastamann guy in that sceen of Sea point. I dnt get my payment of tht whole day doing yo kak job which makes u more more money bt u didnt pay me bt u gat my acc #. Fuck yo movie man

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  10. Evil Gorilla Overlord says:

    *Looks around cautiously to check if anyone’s watching*
    *Laughs at possibly post-ironic, possibly badly bi-lingual, possibly idiotic, rendering of jealous as jalers*
    *Laughs at Learnmore. Period.*
    *Steals the ‘so-obviously-try-hard-it’s-cool psuedonym’; “Mlungu Wasekapa”*
    *Puts it in his collection next to his own ‘so-obviously-try-hard-it’s-cool psuedonym’ and his intellectually lazy writing*
    *Goes back to sleep*

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  11. Anonymous says:

    ah shucks its poester.

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  12. tonymaloney says:

    meh. the industry widely regards schuster as an anomaly. NO-one in south africa has had the commercial success he has. Nooooooooo-one. so don’t look to him if you want to get a picture of the biz, he’s so far off the scale and so firmly rooted he’s not worth discussing. he’s also massively popular in asia – people queuing round the blocks to see mr. bones 2. go figure. white guy dressed as a black man: it’s BRILLIANT, apparently o.0

    anyway, i ain’t gonna watch this film unless it’s on tv. and being vitriolic ain’t gonna do shit. lawd knows mahala is crawling with movie-making types. make yr own movies. make ’em good.

    @learnmore. ha. sorry, you shoulda known better. x

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  13. maurice sithembele maweni says:

    Ive watched ur movie 4tha 1st time 2day.Schuks Tshabalala,damn u r so fucken funny Leon bra.I wsh u can fool thz people here at P.E

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  14. Anonymous says:


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  15. Anonymous says:

    My baby is two years old and he totaly besotted with your shucks shabalala movie, whenever he is awake he watches it.

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  16. Jade says:

    My baby can’nt get enough of leon Schuster.

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  17. conmuzxp says:

    kip it up i waiting for anotha 1

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  18. Daniel says:

    You Rock Leon – Jy was en sal altys my no1 Actor wees

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  19. hannetjie says:

    Hi leon ek wil ni comment ni maar n yslike guns vra om my te help n seun se droom waar te maak.ryno van zyl woon in witpoortjie roodepoort ni ver van waar u woon ni.hy doen bmx toertjies en dars imand wat van hom n dvd wil maak,maar hy kort n nuwe bmx ek. Kan hm ni help ni en weet u ht n hart van goud .dalk ken u imand wat hm dalk kan sponser of n fiets skenk aseblief mnr leon kan u help di kind se droom te bewaarheid. Ryno. Se nomer is 0795448594 dankie

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