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Start spreading ZA News

2009-10-09 12:23

This week's humiliating true story about my life involves Top Secret, a satirical movie that came out in 1984, starring a very young Val Kilmer. I watched it on TV years later, and pronounced it "total crap" and "completely unrealistic – especially that kiss".  

You'd think I'd learn from that mistake, but noooo... Years later, I saw Spinal Tap for the first time... and took that completely seriously too. "Wow, musicians really are a bunch of egotistical idiots," I said, commenting on what I assumed was a documentary. Hilarity ensued.

For a long time, I didn't yet "get" satire, a form of humour that exists in a mock-reality that's frequently strangely closer to the truth than the truth itself. Satire, to put it another way, gives you the benefit of hindsight - but in the present.

Have you ever watched an old TV speech by PW, where the Groot Krokodil's up there, wagging his finger, telling lies. Now, it's funny. Then, part of a divided nation looked to him as their leader in the fight against the Rooi Gevaar. Or perhaps you recall when we had no troops in Angola and Namibia, but all these crazy white boys kept coming home claiming they'd been to war there? The SABC was bad in those days, hey?

Of course, the SABC, like many "independent" big media organisations, still know exactly who butters their bread. So they backed out of screening satirical show ZA News once they saw what they'd funded.

It's the funniest thing I've seen online in a long, long time.  

Watching Za News, you'll realise just why the SABC is struggling financially.  They're clearly so used to being a propaganda machine, that rather than updating their business model, they just switched masters. For crying out loud, even notoriously right-wing US TV empire Fox News has the sense to screen the odd liberal-leaning show like The Simpsons in order to make their bigotry more defensible. But onse SABC still can't take a joke.  

Luckily, the combination of post-apartheid free speech laws and the internet means that when TV doesn't have the nuts to pick up on something like Zapiro's satire, we get to see it anyway.  

And so, finally! We have South Africa's answer to  ZA News stars host Tim Modise as the slightly thick and obviously ANC-biased facilitator, Mbeki as a lonely drunk in a jazz bar, trying to decide which politically charged cocktails to get rat-arsed on, Mandela and Tutu in front of an old television reminiscing about the past, Zille as an opportunistic backbencher - with a loaded make-up bag, and Malema... well, as himself, really.

And if you get offended? Well, that's highly possible - good humour always hurts a bit. But remember, comedy deals in cultural archetypes and commentary, and culture is not about the individual - therefore you really, really shouldn't take it personally. So shame on the SABC for their cowardice. Once the state-sponsored broadcaster  (which every TV-owner is legally forced to fund, but over whom voters have zero control) starts deciding for South Africans what's a laughing matter and what's not, we are, quite simply, being screwed by the system.

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