Wednesday, March 22, 2006

We've come a long way, or have we?

Doing what many Jo'burgers do when we have a national holiday to commemorate we had a gang of mates over to sit in the sun, char some meat over the coals and wash down it down with cold Hansa pilsener. Somewhere along the line I threw a well worn copy of Hot Chocolate's Greatest Hits onto the turntable (I did acknowledge the beers involved, didn't I?). What is interesting about this LP is not the rather jaded seventies porno' movie sound but rather the fact that the LP once lived in the SAUK (Suid Afrikaanse Uitsaai Korporasie) music archive and has the length of each song crudely annotated in ballpoint ink on the sleevenotes. Two songs have the bold warning "AVOID" marked over them. These evil and corrupting songs were "Sexy Thing" and "Rumours". Checking out the lyrics reveals just how inane they are and I think it probably had more to do with the idea that black men shouldn't be suggesting to the SAUK's white audiences that they should be getting down and dirty. The unofficial(or perhaps official?) ban must have been successful as I had to admit never having heard "Sexy Thing" until the 90's revival when Robert Carlisle and co took their kit off to the tune in The Full Monty.

We've not achieved nearly close to everything that needs to be done to really put our past behind us but at least we aren't wasting ink in censoring love songs anymore. We are still censoring songs though. As is shown by the same state broadcaster now censoring the Jacob Zuma support song Msholozi. Is it the same sort of thing? I am not sure. The purported rationale for banning is that it the words could be read as incitement. Either way it has the same sort of paternalism at heart that suggests that we (as a nation) are not mature enough to make up our own minds. What is different now is that we can, and have been able, to publicly debate the issue.

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