What's Happening?

12.6.14

David Basckin... On the Couch: Red is just one shade of reality TV



eNCA, the nation’s television news channel of record, offered an outstanding episode of its commentary programme, Counterpoint
The lead item last week was the sad announcement of the death of the South African Communist Party, which has been hijacked by the Economic Fredom Fighters. 
The EFF, led by a fresh revolutionary in the well-upholstered shape of Julius Malema, dresses entirely in red. The fancy dress, to give it its proper name, consists of red plastic safety helmet, red overalls and gumboots for men, while the women wear domestic worker uniforms. 
It’s a brave display, and not a single Che Guevara T-shirt to be seen. Malema told us that the fancy dress was a revolutionary rejection of undemocratically imposed clothing rules set by Parliament. 
He objected also to the undemocratic menus in the parliamentary cafeteria as well as the undemocratic statue of General Louis Botha on his undemocratically elected horse. 
As a long-time admirer of the massive achievements of Communist parties worldwide – who could forget Pol Pot? – I see it as  a tragedy that the SACP has had its class position, favourite colour, revolutionary zeal and windy militancy confiscated by the EFF, in the total absence of a willing seller-willing buyer agreement.


Moving on to food brings us to yet another episode of Triple D, the in-house jolly abbreviation for Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives
Believe me, food shows are not my ideal viewing. Tedious, repetitive and personality driven, they constitute an insidious version of cultural boredom. Yet puzzlingly, Triple D does the repetitive and personality-driven thing with some panache, revealing a collection of cuisines all embedded in that great American invention and economic adventure, 100 percent pure entrepreneurship. 
Factor in the exceptionally hard work such little restaurants require and you’ve got an ongoing case history that would not be out of place at the Harvard Business School. 
The sole element common to all the menus on this never-ending series is a limitless work ethic combined with a tireless imagination. 
Our host, an amiable hysteric with a blonde rinse and a red Mustang, owns a diner himself, so he knows what he’s raving about.
Last week found us engaged in oral chilli porn with a pirate-themed diner that serves highlights from the Jamaican menu. 
The chicken wing item is coated in something called jerk sauce, a concept I am convinced was lifted from an old Frank Zappa number. 

Raw snails harvested from seaside rocks, with a freshly squashed gecko as a chaser, form the first hand-crafted meal of Naked and Marooned: Ed Bares All, on Discovery. 
Ed is a super-fit British military man who spends 60 days and 60 nights on a deserted island somewhere near Fiji. Naked except for a head-mounted GoPro camera, he has to make do entirely on his own.
His meal – already described – soon reappears accompanied by the noises known in Australia as a Technicolor Yawn. But what the hell, our man struggles on. He creates fire. He discovers water. Little bits of an old outboard motor are slowly fashioned into an axe or maybe a knife. All the time he talks to himself about loneliness, panic and adrenalin. 
Not much of a script, but that’s reality television for you. There are goats on the island. He fails to shoot them with a bow and arrow. Did I mention he wears a grass skirt? Why, I wonder? Surely a hat to avoid sunstroke? Or was the grass skirt just another creepy and poverty- stricken reality television idea? 
As Dennis Davis would say, admittedly on an entirely different set of topics, you be the judge…

This column was first published in the Sunday Tribune SMtv 8 June 2014 issue. 

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