tune me what? – getting over sugarman (2016)

If you’re interested in the history of the musical struggle against apartheid in South Africa, this is a worthwhile listen:

Did the Oscar-winning documentary Searching For Sugarman make things up and distort facts to the point where international audiences got a false impression of the South African music scene? Did they make Rodriguez an undeserving hero at the cost of local South African musicians? With their special guest, music sociologist Michael Drewett, Brett & Leon reveal the scandalous truth about Malik Bendjelloul’s ‘fake-umentary’.

Featured in this episode of Tune Me What? are:

  • Roger Lucey
  • National Wake
  • David Kramer
  • Edi Niederlander
  • Kalahari Surfers
  • Juluka
  • James Phillips
  • Mzwakhe Mbuli
  • Jennifer Ferguson
  • Bright Blue
  • Just Jinger

expose yourself to reality exposed

Diff-Opening-2Written by Sarah Dawson

On July 18, the Film and Publication Board’s refusal to classify the would-be opening film of the Durban International Film Festival, Jahmil XT Qubeka’s Of Good Report, became the flint that sparked the latest South African aesthetic controversy.

Unclassified films are illegal to screen, which means that this is a functional ban on the production. The ruling was imposed on the basis of having interpreted the representation of a sexual encounter of a Grade 9 pupil, Nolitha, (played by the 23-year old actress Petronella Tshuma) as being child pornography.

Tongues have been wagging in creative circles and the media, and given that the film is divorced from any overt perspective on political matters (as in the case ofThe Spear), it is clear that this matter relates to some quite primal conflict over the interpretation of a particular image.

In this case, the battle over meaning is taking place in the awkward, sexually liminal space of the moment of the young female character’s transition from archetypal “virgin” to archetypal “whore”, and what she, the figure of the girl, means.

It probably wouldn’t be completely unfair to assume that the film is objectionable to the classification board because of this very liminality, and the way in which the morality embedded in the process clearly regards anything that isn’t exclusively either “virgin” or “whore” as a kind of abomination.

This act of censorship is fundamentally based on a conflict of representation – meaning it’s as much an aesthetic one as it is an ideological one. This means that we need to be asking not the obvious and common question of whether we should or shouldn’t be allowed to depict female children in an erotic light, but rather what actually is a female child, and what is an erotic light?

South African film and South African audiences remain equally conservative. The idea that representations of people, places, things and events can have a lot of different meanings and aren’t consistently, singularly defined is, surprisingly, not taken for granted by the typical South African viewer, practitioner or institution of film.

We aren’t yet comfortable with the multifarious nature of representation, and expend a lot of hot air trying to settle on the one, all-encompassing, so-called “South African voice”, which it turns out, we’re really struggling to locate.

It’s a self-evidently flawed project, because its ridiculous to think that such a thing could ever actually exist in a finite sense.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

whispers in the deep

Matt Temple, of the excellent African music blog Electric Jive, has just uploaded another fascinating compilation of rare and historical sounds. This time the focus is on music and censorship in South Africa, and tracks span the period from 1960 to 1994. Accompanying the download link is an essay by Peter M Stewart, written in 2003, when this compilation was originally made, which provides some context for listening.

whispers in the deep

“Given the recent Secrecy Bill passed by the South African Parliament it’s worth reflecting on music that caught the attention of the censors during the previous dark period of Apartheid… this is a compilation I put together for private distribution in August 2003, almost 10 years ago. It fits the Bill!

Whispers in the Deep collects a number of anthems, agit-pop songs, and propaganda pieces. Many of the tracks were intended as direct responses to the South African social order as it was prior to 1994. The other tracks might as well have been. Nevermind the revolution, nothing was televised in South Africa prior to 1976.

Whispers in the Deep also documents some of the ways in which access to popular music was restricted in South Africa – the obstacles that prevented persons resident in South Africa from listening to songs, hearing them broadcast, or seeing them performed. It explores the cultural boycott, censorship by the state in South Africa, and various manifestations of the ‘climate of censorship’.”

Read more and download it HERE.