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Vuzu Rich Kids nothing but upper class skhothanes

2015-05-04 07:20

Johannesburg - There’s a mantra that soap opera producers throw around: We want to see people on TV who are richer than us, more beautiful than us and with bigger problems than us. Two of these three apply to the new reality show Rich Kids.

When E! Entertainment introduced the Rich Kids of Beverly Hills last year, it was intriguing to catch a glimpse of a day in the life of the children of the US’s megarich.

Now Vuzu Amp has introduced the local version of the show. It premiered two weeks ago. Every week the show will introduce a new rich South African kid and show us their luxurious life.

The first episode was a mild version of the US show. The star, Nape Phasha (21), seemed like a nice-enough guy as he showed off his expensive tastes. He came across as genuine as he told of how he was inspired by his father, who started out as a taxi driver and grew his fortune through dedication and hard work.

Cameras followed him as he spent time with his family, went shopping for clothes and a watch, and had dinner with his girlfriend.

In the post-Paris Hilton era of American schlock retold in South African accents, we can’t expect a whole lot more. But the political science graduate was the calm before the storm.

It went downhill in the second episode (the ratings probably did the opposite as social media exploded with disdain). Brothers Bob and Don Manonga live in a 14-bedroom mansion on an estate in Pretoria. Among the 12 Mercedes-Benzes, four Bentleys and four Ferraris the family owns, these two get around in Mercedes-Benz A45 AMGs.

If these kids were rich and smart I’d understand, but Don and Bob aren’t the brightest baubles on the Christmas tree. I’m not basing this on assumption. Don is a self-proclaimed “rebel” who admits he spends money ridiculously and was kicked out of four high schools and two colleges, and failed matric.

Se what? Is this common practice when you are at varsity? Only on #VuzuRichKids.

A photo posted by Vuzu TV (@vuzutv) on

The cameras followed the pair at varsity ahead of Don’s 21st birthday. When he’s asked what he learnt in class that day, he says: “Stupid shit. I don’t even have books.”

He then goes on a pre-party drinking spree on campus.

It seems the Manonga mantra is “money, party, girls”. There was not even a whiff of ubuntu, philanthropy or humility.

Their “I can do what I want” attitude makes them come across as delinquents. This should hardly come as a surprise. This kind of TV is designed as a voyeuristic, consumerist snack. Spoilt brats making the rest of the world green with envy in a world where the Instagrammed institutionalisation of capitalism is disguised as the ordinary. In this world, the only thing worth aspiring to is wealth.

Aspiration is the grist to the TV mill, but for it to work, viewers must be able to dream of achieving the aspiration being presented.

But according to the social- media response, Rich Kids leaves many feeling disempowered and unfulfilled. Because no matter how hard some people work, they will never be able to bridge the income gap.

A few responses to the show expose how our middle class privilege allows us to look down on skhothane culture, but be glued to the TV to see how rich kids are throwing around their parents’ money.

Skhothanes burning money is bad; rich kids burning it is aspirational.

Let it be noted that South Africa’s rich kids are still in playschool compared with the US version of the show.

Where are the private jets? The yachts? The extravagant holidays?

Both episodes of Rich Kids have left me feeling that there could and should be more to these rich kids’ lives the show claims to be revealing. In trying to be the local version of Rich Kids of Beverly Hills, it offers nothing new.

* Rich Kids is on Vuzu Amp (channel 114) on Thursday at 19:00. It is repeated on Friday at 7:30 and 14.30, on Saturday at 16:30, and on Monday at 9:00 and 14:00.

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