“TV is bigger than any story it reports. It’s the greatest teaching tool since the printing press,” said Fred Friendl.
Sadly, it doesn’t only teach the good – in fact it perpetuates so much negativity and violence, daily.
A short while ago, the MEC for education in Gauteng, Panyaza Lesufi, urged producers of local television content to create more positive stories and not just those that entail kissing and violence.
It is true. When you talk to young people, both male and female, their role models are people they see on TV portraying a particular character. The role models that boys speak about are usually the script characters and not the real people. Young men look up to all the dodgy characters on television.
Our television stories have to be part of the change we want to see. We are still within the 16 days of activism against violence on women and children campaign – but for 365 days of the year, we are consuming the very same things we don’t want to see in our society. We seem to undermine or underplay the power of television and the role it plays in our daily lives.
We need more stories like Skeem Saam, which airs on SABC 1 at 6:30pm, daily. It is arguably the only drama on TV during prime time that is solely about motivating young people, teaching parents corrective ways of parenting and is a better reflection of our daily lives. It really contributes to the building of our society.
On the other hand, you have Uzalo, which is the most watched soapie in South Africa, portraying violence. The very same GBV and violence in general. It is all about guns and kisses as Mr Lesufi rightfully said. Generations doesn’t only give us violence, it portrays the most unrealistic family in the form of the Morokas. To date, I still don’t see the importance of this storyline.
Paid TV is the biggest home of violence, lack of morals, principles and authenticity. Isibaya, Isithembiso, The River, The Queen, The Republic, The Throne and so on, are all centred on violence. Wait, they are probably written by the same people. It is disheartening!
Some may argue that there are elements of empowerment and women’s leadership in these stories; however, if Lindiwe Dikana, T-Gom, or Harriet Khoza are the role models for a girl child, then we have lost it.
If Zungu, Thuso (Cobra), Shaka, Kagiso, Tau Mogale, Mxolisi Mdletshe, David Genaro, Suffocate, Khumkani and more are the kind of men we want boys to grow up to become, we might as well forget about winning the war against GBV.
TV plays a significant role in shaping our views, emotions, psychology and our daily lives. South African story writers and producers have a responsibility to play their role in writing positive, progressive and nation-building stories that will be captivating and nonviolent.
Our country needs more Skeem Saams than anything else. I honestly don’t buy the view that says, “We enjoy the violent stories.” We don’t. We are just not given better alternatives. It is stale and regressive content we are offered, paid TV or not.
As Christiane Amanpour put it, “I believe that good journalism, good television, can make our world a better place.”
TV writers, and producers, please make our world a better place. Help us fight GBV through your pens and imaginations.
Kabelo Chabalala is the founder and chairperson of the Young Men Movement (YMM), an organisation that focuses on the reconstruction of the socialisation of boys to create a new cohort of men. Email, email@example.com ; Twitter, @KabeloJay; Facebook, Kabelo Chabalala
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