Dear Mr Vundla & Generations et al,

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Seeing as how my fellow compatriots have declared 2013 the year of penning open letters, yours truly has realized that among the “poor” souls like Mrs Msengana, prez JZ, Juju and the Mandelas who have become the target of these letters (deservedly and otherwise)- none is more fitting to become the recipient of the following letter.
 
After a long sabbatical from watching Generations, I made a reluctant comeback to join millions of other dutiful viewers around the country. And I say reluctant because, you see, my brother is a heavy-handed-stubborn-ass motherf&@ker who couldn’t contain his jealousy of the fact that I was enjoying daily doses of The Wild. It would appear that DStv’sMzansi Magic channel is fast becoming a fierce competitor to MzansiFo’ Sho’ with well put together local productions.
 
Anyway, my relationship with The Wild was evidently short-lived. I did not bow down easily though; it took a lot of kicking, hollering and screaming that, “I would rather become the president’s next wife than go back to watching another episode of Generations!!”
 
These days, I willingly flip the channel to watch the ‘soapie’. At this point, three of the TV’s in the house are also switched on to the same. I reckon that’s pretty insane, huh? The other day, my sister protested that we needed to find something else to watch- Pronto! “Poor thing,” I thought. That used to be me all those months ago; look at me now, huh, sissy!
 
Mr Vundla, kind Sir- your production’s brainwashing mechanism should be thoroughly patented. I mean, Bosso ke mang, joe?! Frankly, when one thinks about Generations, they are also compelled to think of a certain political party. Parallels can be clearly drawn between the cunning similarities in the elements of emotional blackmail.
 
Just like that party, yours is the biggest fish in the pond. You hold the title of undisputed king of soap operas in the Southern Hemisphere. Only problem is, in comparison to other lesser dramas, your content lacks substance and real intrigue.
 
We can thus conclude that Generations has become comfortable…a little too comfortable in satiating our minds with…well…nonsense.
 
Since Generations is categorically a ‘soap opera’, Google explains that soap operas “are midday television dramas targeted to women. They are called [such] because originally the shows were sponsored by soap and detergent companies…” Naturally, the viewer profile has evolved to include other people and the share over the soap opera market hotly contested during the early-and towards mid-evening.
 
The end of my sabbatical has given me the impression that either Generations has become a sitcom or that it is bordering on schizophrenic adaptations of people’s overly rigid imaginations, that is, your script writers. Perhaps you will soon throw some Voodoo in there- hot on the heels of the trailblazing Scandal– to make for some “gripping” viewing, neh? 
 
Now let’s also talk about the actual storyline. Well, I have to admit that what you did with Khethiwe and her WTF face was brilliant. Hey, I didn’t see that one coming! I think I actually look forward to that each and every night. However, what you did with Phenyo, who went from being a confident attorney to a panty-whipped fool, was not OK. As a matter of fact, the weave that you put on his wife, Dinny’s head, should be taboo. ‘Same goes for the dozen other weave bobbing heads in there.
 
Let’s not forget those rich Noluntu’s and Senzo’s who live in Morningside or Northcliff going to work out among the arbs in Newtown…really?! Kannete?!
 
I also find the trademark unnatural acting very peculiar. Well, how else can one explain the stiff upper lip (and stiffening of every body part) on male actors, especially? I could be wrong but MelusiYeni once kicked butt on the Emmy Award winning Home Affairs, Sokhulu& Partners and other productions. Now he is…well- a nuisance to watch.
 
Same goes for Ngamla, whose close-ups leave one cringing. ‘Guess that’s you trying to make him look mean. I remember YizoYizo and many local dramas where the man dazzled and showed finesse.
 
If anything, the end of my sabbatical reminds me why I stopped watching Generations in the first place. It reminds me that, personally, I value quality and the attention paid to detail. It reminds me that authenticity in story telling makes the experience worthwhile for the viewer. It reminds me that being in a comfortable space is dangerous; that there is a need for constant re-invention in order to remain relevant. Most importantly, I’m reminded that I have no tolerance for things that insult my intelligence.
 
Similar to that political party, Generations is content in the knowledge that it is safe in this space whether viewers choose to stay on or not. Just drops in the ocean. How long can you trivialize the viewership that so many productions can only dream of?
 
On a parting note, let me leave you with this thought- “Se safeleng, sea tlhola”.
 
Sincerely,
 
Gomo’
 
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For Richer, For Younger

The private lives of Pippa Lee

Now, you will never see me wag a judgemental finger at most things. If anything I’m one of the most liberal and open-minded people out there. But that, of course, is just my opinion. Perhaps others will attest differently.

On Friday evening, just  hours after I had stumbled upon the self-proclaimed “#1 Sugar Daddy Dating Site”- seekingarrangement.com, Generations decided to flight a rather disturbing scene showing Queen laying cosily on her ageing lover’s chest. Never mind that he coughs a hundred times a day; can’t run past the front gate and forgets her son’s name often. Having witnessed that, I gave a throaty chuckle because frankly, I was embarrassed. LOL!

I’m just saying, it appears inter-generational relationships are quite tricky when people compel themselves to put up with things that they would rather not just so they could enjoy the finer things in life. Then again, that is just my opinion. Perhaps they do it because it’s fulfilling somehow. Who knows?

Seekingarrangement.com doesn’t quite think so. In fact the site boasts being featured in the New York Times, CNN and Dr. Phil- amongst others. On entry, the site makes it clear that escourts need not bother trying to register. They simply aren’t welcome: Poor sods, such irony. Not sure what the difference is though, hey.

While the website operates a dating service for “consenting adults to meet each other”, I really don’t understand if there is an element of maturity in two people being in a relationship calling each other “daddy” and “baby”. It’s just a tad creepy for my liking.

Secondly, the site asks the user to stipulate the amount that she requires from the sugar daddy. Whether this in itself is not tantamount to prostitution is the million rand question. Is it really possible to redeem oneself after literally selling ‘IT’?

Naturally a lot of people will argue that these things are taking place ANYWAY. So, why should some of us get their knickers in a knot worrying about such? I don’t see the problem with dating an older person but I do think there is everything wrong with doing it for financial gain. If anything, what could be a good and solid inter-generational relationship for some can be nothing but grotesque money making-sexually gratifying illusions for others.

Having failed to get through the first round of registration, I failed therefore to get the actual stats of “arrangement seekers” in South Africa. On the ground though, it is a different story. The reality is that South Africa has pathetic HIV/AIDS statistics, one of the contributing factors being the prevalence of inter-generational sex.* (Source: MARIE STOPES INTERNATIONAL)

The fact of the matter is that power relations underpin inter-generational relationships-a bargain of sorts- and we don’t need a rocket scientist to tell us which side the scale tips. Yes, it happens- a lot of the time. Unfortunately, this is one thing I’m going to wag my finger at as Inter-generational (read: transactional) sex is not something we should appear to condone. Not in a country that continues to degenerate and lose its moral core. No. Take it elsewhere, please!

Parlez-vous Français?

You and yours are caught in loving rapture, tenderly going about what lovers do. Holding hands comes naturally, so does the expression of undying affection and devotion. You both knew the bedroom games would start at one point or the other, whether it takes two days or an entire year, something would definitely have to give, yes?

It would appear that there are some gaps in this narrative, perhaps there is something very important lacking here? Ever wondered why you never see couples in porn flicks doing it? I’m referring to that sensual, engaging and deeply personal thing called a kiss? No, not that peck you gave your child when they left for pre-school in the morning. No. I found myself quite curious on a random commute to work one morning about the so-called The French kiss and its origins.

Owing to this, I set outfrench_kiss_by_hard_2_find to find some information on what could have possibly urged some individual(s) to experiment in such a manner; to make the grand assumption that eating someone’s face might prove to be a worthy and delightful experience. Well, the experiment certainly paid off- and spread far enough- because it has become like second nature for a lot of people.

For the French kiss’s intimate aspects which dictate that a couple has to be physically close and emotionally connected to each other, it is easy to understand why some men reserve kissing for their wives though they may have intercourse with prostitutes. If we argue that intercourse is just as intimate then we risk venturing into another discussion altogether.

My search proved to be evasive, sadly. Instead of finding comprehensive information about who might have launched this rather interesting bonding mechanism, all there was were illustrations that would be, dare I say, be useful for teenagers and other things that I deemed to be quite useless. According to www.wikipedia.org the kiss was given this name because at the beginning of the 20th century the French had a reputation for “more adventurous and passionate sex practices”.

Well, I say the French have bloody well put the entire world in a fix! Not only can this type of kiss be messy and tricky, but a lot of people have been literally ostracised for their lack of, er…ability. Unlike the traditional peck the French kiss demands skill and technique- laughs- and one could be forgiven for assuming that you need formal and institutional learning to do this thing, hey? So the French are quite sneaky and strategic as a matter of fact!

A poll on Facebook revealed that the “first” kiss wasn’t an awkward and messy affair for yours truly only but something a lot of friends experienced as well. Frankly, I would rather forget that moment in my teenage years when the boy I roped in to help me learn that thing everyone had been doing for a while kept to his word.

The experience was possibly worse for him because I assume he had kissed “like that” before and I was just a pathetic geek who caused tooth accidents in his mouth. Yet, it was equally liberating to learn such because once started it something one cannot unlearn.

So, please don’t be intimidated by those who’ve been doing it for donkey years (like me), and by those who aren’t afraid of giving a dose of it in public. They most definitely sucked at it at one point. Then again, some of them probably still suck at it (pun intended). Sigh.

The Never Ending Walk…To The Box Office

‘Heard another Madiba film is in the pipeline; it is reported that Long Walk To Freedom, based on Nelson Mandela’s autobiography is set to go under production, “ahead of several other Mandela projects expected in the next few years.” (Blignaut, C. “Long walk to the Box Office”, 18 March 2012) Sigh, I wish I knew how I felt about that-perhaps I do but maybe for fear of being labelled a ‘hater’ might just consider sitting on the fence. I mean Madiba has got to be the only man who has more lives than a cat itself. One just wonders how long filmmakers will keep rehashing the story of the man.

I would imagine that every angle imaginable has been exploited and the film Invictus summed it all up. Of course there was one released in 2010, with Sophie Okineyo portraying Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in a depiction of the dame’s years during her ex-husband’s years in prison and shortly after his release. An unlikely character played the role of Mandela and it is no wonder I don’t have a recollection of who the man was or the name of the movie for that matter.

Don’t get me wrong I have great admiration for Tata, as do many South Africans but one can get a dizzy spell merely thinking about all the material being sold of the man. From t-shirts to various souvenirs, not to mention the many streets; avenues and roads named after him. Please don’t forget informal settlements-the list is endless, and frankly it’s all starting to give me a migraine. Then there goes the woman who cooked for the Mandela family publishing a cookbook of Mandela’s favourite dishes. It’s just…I’m so conflicted!

To those who might accuse me of being ignorant about the history of our country I would boldly answer that, unfortunately for those with romanticized views former president Mandela is a part of our history-but not the only part. So many individuals were instrumental in negotiating a peaceful political transition that began in 1990 and culminated in the elections of ’94.

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However, it’s a no brainer that our history has been reduced to being about Mandela and (insignificant) others, whose lives must have been lacking in spunk to feature on global cinemas. Quite a slap in the face, wouldn’t you say?  Of course one can’t blame Tata for this. If I continue the Mandela versus others debate I run the risk of betraying the whole intent of this post…moving right along.

The production of Mandela films has not been without controversy. At the very top is the casting of international stars instead of local ones and to say this has disgruntled the latter would be an understatement. I simply couldn’t be bothered because as it would occur I’m not an actor, and I reckon it makes perfect financial sense to cast people who are well-known.

Nelson Mandela is a global icon and someone we are most proud to show off. My qualm though is how he seems to have transcended this iconic status to become a brand; a commodity. I have to admit to feeling particularly offended that at some point the old man became a stop that every Tom, Dick and Harriet from the West just had to make before jetting off from the “motherland”. Suffice to say, this trend has declined and I couldn’t be happier.

I happened to watch a film about Dictator Idi Amin once-okay, maybe twice. With the incomparable Forest Whitaker in the lead, “The Last King of Scotland” proved to be a brilliant film which to this day has left a lasting impression on me about the kind of man Amin was. Because of that I would happily watch the same film over and over instead of fifty more films of the same man; I reckon this would reduce me to comparing who better played the man and so forth.

Therefore, seeing my former president in one or two films would have done it for me hence it is all becoming too exploitative for my liking. Money aside, our national treasures need to be preserved and respected, if not they will continue to fall prey to being caricatures of Western greed. Thankfully, local filmmakers have moved beyond the political and AIDS rhetoric because our country is not one dimensional in the least. There are more stories to tell about love, life, mystery, passion and thrill in our context.