Bheki Mashile's Letter from Umjindi

TV trash. Spoiling the child.


Ok nosey ones, before I get to the rubbish that has seemingly become the norm on our television screens, a quick update on my inflated-debt battle. As I reported previously, the matter was going to be postponed. Since then it has been postponed again twice and is now due set to be heard on 31 May. The postponements were granted at my request, since I felt my attorney had not prepared properly by thoroughly familiarising himself with the necessary info: the Schedule of Particulars and the Debt Collectors Amendment Bill of 2016. Without these two pieces of legislation as our basis for argument, we have nothing, zero, goose-egg.

Ignorance of this is exactly what allows these debt collectors, particularly the law-firm ones, to fleece us.

And, as I also pointed out before, the clerks of the court – to my disgust – were not familiar with these two documents intended to assist complainants requesting a court taxation, seeing the debt-collector’s costs are in line with the schedule of particulars (costs allowed as prescribed by the Department of Justice). And of course, said costs must also be in line with the Debt Collectors Amendment Bill of 2016.

Surely if the clerks cannot assist complainants properly one must make a solid argument to the court. It’s not enough for the court simply to ask, why aren’t you paying? They need to start asking why the debt has ballooned?

Yes, indeed, this fight I must see through. If Parliament can see the need to table and pass the bill, we need to thank parliamentarians by using it. The fight goes on.

Alrighty then, now let us look at the rubbish and smut that has become the norm in too many programmes aired particularly by our four channels accessible to everyone – e.tv and the three SABCs. A review of too many programmes aired by these four makes one wonder whether they are even aware of the Broadcasting Complaints Commission’s (BCCSA) code of conduct they claim to adhere to. The code says, in part, they must not broadcast programming intended for adult audiences before the watershed period of 9pm-5am which contains scenes of explicit violence and/or sexual conduct and/or nudity and/or grossly offensive language intended for adult audiences.

Wow, who at the SABC are the Generations team paying off? This show is aired at 8pm and is reportedly the most widely watched soapy. However, it has gone from featuring humorous characters such as Queen Moroka, wholesome ones such as Archie Moroka, to what can only be described as pure smut.

Storylines have included a female character subjected to S&M who commits suicide; a character who throws a woman off a balcony; and another storyline where a woman is kidnapped and held captive. Let’s not forget the woman forced to sleep with a brother for the sake of the family since the other brother is sterile. Promoting this crap in this day and age? Generations’ content makes a mockery of the fight against violence and abuse of women. Moreover its rubbish content is aired before the watershed period.

Is the SABC allowing this smut for the sake of advertising revenue that is at its max during this prime-time period, despite the fact that Gogo and the kids are watching at that time?

Let’s look at another example: on 5 March, SABC 1 aired a movie – again at 8pm – starring Steven Seagal and titled Force of Execution. Talk about explicit nudity! The movie showed more breasts than all the chicken thighs being dumped on our shores. Not forgetting, of course, the G-string clad booties.  The movie was immediately followed by the youth programme Selimathunzi. So much for the code ha?

And another example: in late March, with the culprit here being SABC 2, the public broadcaster aired a performance by comic Loyiso Gwala. Although it was aired after 9pm the profanity in his act was enough to make a brother from the hood proud. It seems Loyiso cannot be funny without the f-word.

And while we are on the f-word, it would appear that nearly all the programmes – so-called telenovelas or whatever they call this locally made, extremely violence-driven rubbish such as the show Heist, has made the f-word a prerequisite for their scripts.

The BCCSA code also states that programmes should not be harmful. Well, Nosey ones, clearly these channels are airing harmful content. Case in point: during a recent family gathering I began using the f-word while talking to my sister and nephew, albeit using the f-word in a casual manner, American- style. Since my sister and I grew up in that country, it’s no big deal to say something like, Wow, he’s dead? I just saw the f***in’ guy in town just a few days ago. What happened?

However, noticing that my nephew’s two-year-old son was present, I immediately said “Sorry guys, I should not be using this kind of language with these kids around (there was also a young girl about the same age). My nephew responded: “Uncle, it’s too late, he uses the f-word all the time.” I ask, “Where is he getting this from? Certainly not from me. This is only the second time I’ve seen him since he was born!” My nephew’s response: “He hears it on television all the time.”

Yes, it is said children are very perceptive and pick up things easily. But that is not the point here. The fact is, if a two-year-old has picked up foul language from hearing it on TV then clearly we have a problem.

To the scriptwriters of local content: you guys suck. You lack imagination and creativity. All your scripts have one common theme, violence. Not to mention your obsessive use of the f-word. Do we really need more cheap shock-horror right now?

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