Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Freud, Smoke and Mirrors

After a full two weeks of watching the South African media chasing after the story of our Presidents genitalia, I've decided to sit at my desk and write, admittedly after hopeful denial, about Freud's place in this whole saga. I have no doubt that the corpse of Freud must be gloating at such a promising case study as South Africa has turned into.

It's one thing to debate - in a thriving democracy as ours - the pro's and cons of freedom of expression versus the individual right to dignity. I say this with gratitude, that we might have the space to debate on such a vivid spectrum of ideological colour. That it may have been reduced to glib racialised banter in most instances is another rather problematic issue altogether.

Mike van Graan's report in the Cape Times clarified the data; the who is Brett Murray and what the greater body of his work stands for. It also outlined the dangers of the ruling party using a racial reading of the satire to enrage potential voters of the basis of colour. The City Press boasted pieces by Zakes Mda and even Julius Malema. Phylicia Opelt's Op-ed in the Times stayed close to the ground. Ferial Haffajee got braai'ed with the stakes for her bravery. Oom Max du Preez's definitive conjecture has been painted with a brush of 'the potential racist'. And the Goodman Gallery made good on standing by their Art. But as Verashni Pillay of M&G said on twitter, in response to an accusation that she might be more of an artist than a journalist, that 'Artist' has become a bad word.

What have we become?

A country of sex-crazy, race-card throwing, spear-envious (I'd rather leave Freud's classifications to the textbooks) fear-mongering bigots. Yes. Freud would have been so proud. We've just taken the penis envy to another level. And we've uncovered a whole new can of worms for race discourse in SA. Rainbow nation just got smoked on - puff and pass- and we're left holding up the mirror to ourselves. Can you see what I see? It's a damning vision for you and for me.

Decidedly, the Honourable President Zuma is certainly no despot. A true autocrat would have called a spade a spade, or not, erm, re-named the famed Hillbrow tower #Zumaspeare and gone on with business as usual. So we have much to be thankful for regarding good democratic practice and all that. Be assured, oh fellow South Africans.

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