What's Happening?


David Basckin... On the Couch: No slouch couching

Every working day, as I settle into my custom-designed television watching chair with the fur-lined armrests (mock leopard), the built-in tiny espresso machine and the heads-up Google display (prototype only, not yet released to the huddled television-watching masses) I indulge myself in hope: will I achieve a state of helpless merriment, just this once? 

Setting my custom remote to “Helpless Merriment” I pressed the start button and off we went like a rocket into the unknown. A nanosecond or two later (are you still there, Dear Reader?) the big screen lit up that there it was: Mike & Molly, a sitcom on M-NetHD. 
It just had to be funny, since both Mike and Molly are fat people. We are allowed to be amused by fat people because being fat is all their own fault. If they didn’t eat so much they would be thin like the rest of us, and hence undeserving of sniggers and coarse laughter. 
Helping the sniggers and coarse laughter along was a script positively waist-deep in jolly mirth.

Allow me to quote verbatim: “You don’t want to get on my mom’s bad side,” says Mike to Molly his wife. “Is there a good side?” says Molly wobbling like a jelly. “Indeed,” says Mike his massive belt straining to contain his vast belly. “Your tyres aren’t slashed, there are no dog turds in your mailbox and the people in church don’t think you have syphilis.”
It got better, a few moments later. Mike’s mom – a thin person – asks why wobbly Molly wants to go to an art museum. “An art museum?” she hisses. “They’re just an opportunity for perverts to look at nude babies with wings.” That’s one bullet for three targets: Michaelangelo, cherubim and seraphim. WHAMMO! 

Meanwhile, back in the crypt, it was this hack’s singular and cynical pleasure to watch Death: It’s A Living, elegantly documented by CNBCA. Since this is a business channel, the story was understandably and appropriately commercial, with the entire focus on death for profit. It seems that in America, and no doubt elsewhere, the business of dispatching the recently dead is very profitable indeed. Not only profitable, but wide open to marketing strategies and the imaginative development of new products. 

Market trends, it appears, are moving rapidly towards cremation instead of the more traditional hole-in-the-ground approach. In states such as Nevada and Hawaii, disposal by burning to ash is now up to 70 percent of the total. Free enterprise has leapt at the opportunity, with privately owned cremation factories booming. 

“Cremation is the flavour of the month,” enthused one excitable undertaker. Despite this, the burial business continues to attract a loyal following. A visit to an enormous coffin factory showed the newest product – an ultra-wide coffin that reflects the increase in dead fat people. “This one,” said a hearty coffin maker, “can cope with a 600 pound (272kg) body.” 

Finally, democracy. While the EFF puzzles the ANC with its non-standard approach to parliamentary decorum, let it be said that for the first time in its long and tedious history, the parliamentary channel has at last got an audience. Instead of a few somnolent legislators nodding in their seats, the EFF members are wide awake and full of interesting questions. It has been an act of near-genius to hijack the Communist Party’s monopoly on red, making the EFF so clearly visible at all times. 

Fans of democracy and other beneficiaries of the long struggle against fascist apartheid can find all they need to know about the near future on DStv channel 408.

This column first appeared in the August 31, 2014 issue of the Sunday Tribune SMtv

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