Furore over TV ad beg­gars be­lief

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS - Roland Solomon

THE “out­rage” over a sin­gle TV ad­vert that failed to show a black face on Fa­ther’s Day is so un­be­liev­able that one can­not but think the whole neg­a­tive re­ac­tion was care­fully ma­nip­u­lated and con­trived.

I have can­vassed a num­ber of work­ing blacks and a pro­fes­sional black I met, on what they felt about the ad­vert and the hul­la­baloo that fol­lowed. Most had seen it but had not even reg­is­tered that no black dad or child was seen.

It seems in­cred­i­ble that a re­spected news­pa­per like The Star saw the in­ci­dent as so threat­en­ing that it weighed in against Out­surance in its top ed­i­to­rial – tra­di­tion­ally the place re­served for a pa­per’s own com­ment on real mat­ters and de­vel­op­ments of con­cern.

Our coun­try is about to be swal­lowed by a gi­gan­tic sink­hole of state capture, cor­rup­tion and mount­ing anger be­cause of prom­ises which have not been kept.

The rot reaches all lev­els of gov­ern­ment and in­cludes min­is­ters and top of­fice-bear­ers in state en­ter­prises and it im­pli­cates Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, his fam­ily and al­lies, in­clud­ing the Gup­tas.

South Africa is on the verge of im­plod­ing – we have been plunged into junk sta­tus, in­vestors are back­ing away and we are in a re­ces­sion with nearly a third of the pop­u­la­tion job­less and not able to put food on the table.

Yet we find it of para­mount im­por­tance to blow up one all-white ad­vert into a ra­cial scan­dal, and dent the im­age of Out­surance which has been seen to con­trib­ute to the well-be­ing of the coun­try and all its peo­ple in a tan­gi­ble way over many years.

Have the avid self-ap­pointed watch­dogs not no­ticed that other pop­u­la­tion groups like the Indians and coloureds, nom­i­nally black when it suits the gov­ern­ment, are sel­dom if ever seen in mixe­drace ad­verts? But that seems ac­cept­able.

Then there are nu­mer­ous ad­verts that fea­ture blacks only. But, with the dou­ble stan­dards ap­plied, this too is never neg­a­tively com­mented upon.

One could project anti-black slurs on to a num­ber of oft­flighted ad­verts if one wanted to. Does the Koo ad­vert mean to im­ply the win­ner of a cook­ing contest, in which a black con­tes­tant is con­vinced she has won, is su­pe­rior be­cause of her skin colour? Of course not.

Should that de­light­ful VW ad­vert of a lov­ing black fa­ther and daugh­ter singing in their car be slammed for not meet­ing the so-called ra­cial cri­te­rion? Of course not.

One must be deaf, dumb and blind – or in de­nial – not to have no­ticed the sus­tained smear cam­paign of scape­goat­ing and bla­tant at­tacks on whites since last year in which we are blamed for ev­ery­thing from ris­ing un­em­ploy­ment to the drought.

How­ever, more per­turb­ing than the cor­ro­sive cor­rup­tion per­vad­ing our so­ci­ety is the in­her­ent dam­age that these ra­cial at­tacks could do to the gen­uine – but as yet ten­ta­tive – in­ter­per­sonal in­ter­ra­cial fab­ric of tol­er­ance and ac­cep­tance. It has taken 23 years to reach this point with good­will on all sides.

Petty ac­tions and dredg­ing up imag­i­nary ra­cial slurs must not be al­lowed to dam­age these beau­ti­ful bridges and set the coun­try back by nearly a quar­ter of a cen­tury.

Imag­i­nary ra­cial slurs must not be al­lowed to dam­age bridges


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