About ten years ago the legends of Italian carbohydrates, Fatti’s and Moni’s, received the seething wrath of the conservative South African public. “You don’t have to keep an Italian to cook Italian” was a commercial fraught with controversy; as an elderly petit woman was placed inside a cupboard for a later stage; when the hankering for authentic meatballs took flight. It was hilarious, and everyone laughed, yet the carrot in the arse of a few anti-liberal “PG-13 is for Lucipher” types saw that the ad was taken off air. But why? I can just imagine the prudish zealots sitting on the couch, insisting on being so conservative they make Stalin look like a lipstick-wearing dolphin-rights-activist in a recyclable one piece, picking up the phone, and crying bigotry. But that’s what our post-Apartheid nation is all about: being as offended as possible by anyone slightly different than you, who creates humour over a supposed stereotype. If the creatives were tiny 70 year old Italian chicks, does it then make it ok? Why can’t we just laugh at the concept without reading deeper into the meaning? And now we have a modern example: Florence and the Machine. On Monday our Facebook page was frenzied over a pic we posted. Were we wrong? And does laughter trump social cohesion?
Understandably our country is still raw after years of separatist misrule. Im not going to dress as a Zulu princess and mumble my way through a mispronounced version of a Mandoza hit during a sheep sacrifice in the Transkei. Because I would get shot. And rightfully so. That’s disrespectful as it mocks one’s inherent culture and uniqueness. But there is a large difference between ridicule and just enjoying our various personalities in a variety of forms. The picture of Florence features a comically blank face, next to the tool of her trade; the washing machine. By saying that you are offended are you then demeaning the profession of domestic work that employs millions of South Africans to feed their families? Is this not a dignified profession? It’s fair and well to create a picture of a prostitute next to an armoured tank with the caption “Ho-Style work environment”, but god forbid we trample on the hallowed work of housekeeping.
But the real crux, the nuts and bolts, the true swollen testicle of the situation is that it is made by a white man, and white people can’t joke about anything to do with the black populace. As soon as any black stereotype is seen through a white man’s glasses it is racist. Who are we to poke fun at years of trauma? But does it really make a difference? I created my own picture (see below) playing on the shame of the white man: Beer drinking classless racist rednecks in their natural habitat: a bakkie Jacuzzi. Hands up offended white people? Its just a picture, a bit of fun, there’s no burning cross or KKK hooded delusionists screaming for white power. Even if it was made by a black man, nobody would give a shit. Stop reading so deep into it and take it at face value. Do you look at a photo of a model and over analyse it? If you sat there thinking “she’s so skinny because her daddy never truly loved her and thus focuses so much on beauty in the never ending pursuit of perfection solely to impress her long lost father” – then you are taking all the joy out of life. You can always find negatives in an image. Sometimes it’s ok to just fucking smile and move on.
Imagine if everyone in this country stopped being so offended by every slight nuance that has to do with race. Such a large portion of conflict would disappear. Sometimes socially insecure people should honestly just take a few ecstasies. Everyone would hug, laugh, joke and chuckle all to the blissful sounds of the melodic Florence and the Machine. We would see the picture, smile at its double entendre and continue to enjoy each other’s warm multi-cultural embrace, while giving jobs to local Vicks and white glove manufacturers. It would remove the social insecurities that breed distain for humorous pics like these. Stop being so socially insecure and just enjoy life. But don’t insult Allah, that oke is like way beyond reproach, even if there is a pic of him with 60 virgins riding a magical carpet.
*Follow @Stroobz on twitter as he makes inappropriate jokes about Vietnamese sex shop workers and tie dyes a kitten.