/ 14 October 2016

#Culturepop: More mourning this week — and the absurdity of violence continues

'Instead of a cape to announce himself Luke emerges from a hooded sweater — just like Trayvon Martin did — but Luke is lucky enough to be bulletproof.'
'Instead of a cape to announce himself Luke emerges from a hooded sweater — just like Trayvon Martin did — but Luke is lucky enough to be bulletproof.'

It was World Mental Health Day on Monday. While many sent tweets and messages of hope, universities continued to sink into sites of postmodern absurdity, violence and decay. There were no answers.

There was an overwhelming silence from the top. And the agenda seemed set against the cause. Clashing views and violence were the metaphor for the madness that paraded in various disguises among us.

Wits University turned into a police state in our life and times. Students were hounded and arrested for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time — a picture from our gruesome past. Profiled by cops, being on campus became the last place a student or any person should have been.

First thing this week, safe spaces were looted. Braamfontein was occupied and a senseless violence spread like wildfire. A bus was torched and overturned. A priest was shot at the entrance to Holy Trinity Church.

Is this still part of the movement or has a criminal element wormed its way in? It smelled a lot like the work of detractors. But the students continued to promote peaceful protest.

Monday prevailed on a sombre note as we mourned the passing of Khwezi, whose real name was Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo.

She stood up for herself in South Africa’s devastating rape culture and in the face of disavowal. The state and the ANC Women’s League were lost in a misguided fog of seeing President Jacob Zuma as some kind of father figure, oblivious to everything problematic and bent on protecting patriarchy.

We salute Khwezi Fezekile, on whose physical body and memory the fight for women’s rights must continua.

Over in another repressive state, Donald Trump remains in the running to become president of the land of the far-from-free. In a second presidential debate with Democrat opponent Hillary Clinton, the world sat through some more of Trump’s apologetics after again being caught with his pants down. A video revealed Trump plough away at women in a slew of sexist statements. It was just another day and another offensive remark from the presidential candidate.

But this was only the beginning of the debate. The beginning of the end, really. His delivery of failed fact-checks was a feat. He called Islamophobia a “shame” and forever linked Muslims to “suspicious behaviour” and terrorism.

In the end, as a non-American you walked away from the debate feeling suffocated by the crude imperialism of both Trump and Clinton. Is there any leader worth voting for in this world today?

Trump’s brand of abusive attitude towards women, which he dismissed as “locker room talk” and “just words”, befell South African fans of comic Skhumba Hlophe.

The easygoing, funny guy thought he might body shame women who went topless as a form of protest at Wits during #FeesMustFall2016.

He then went on to record himself doing this and posting it on Facebook. More to note, however, is that many found it hysterical enough to share the violent remarks dressed up as humour. He’s since joined the ranks of privileged-persons apologies.

There’s a new series on Netflix and it’s said to speak to #BlackLivesMatter and introduce positive and nuanced black characters. It’s called Luke Cage and is adapted from the comic book of the same name.

Luke has superhero tendencies and when he taps into them he is Power Man. Luke Cage is black and he is from the Projects. Instead of a cape to announce himself Luke emerges from a hooded sweater — just like Trayvon Martin did — but Luke is lucky enough to be bulletproof.

Characters to look out for include Cotton Mouth and Black Mariah. After a sneak peak I find these two to be the most interesting for adding a diverse portrayal of blackness.

Resisting systemic oppression is trending on our devices and that’s probably somewhere to start, but I wonder whether such a thing can survive as a commodity before we all get desensitised into an existential limbo — if we aren’t already.