/ 19 May 2017

The weekly pop sack: Winter is here

The money was stolen from the stadium's strong room
The money was stolen from the stadium's strong room

Temperatures may be dropping outside but they have been climbing on Facebook and Twitter. And while the weather makes for soul-crushing small talk, it’s far better than the “mansplaining” (the need to explain away questionable behaviour to protect patriarchy) and defensive debate that’s been going on online, the kind that drags on relentlessly and derails endeavours to smash the anti-womxn order of the day. The conversation is off to a gruelling start on social media. Don’t forget to moisturise, drink lots of water and employ self-care. It’s evidently going to get bitterly cold before it gets warm.

Calling out the system

Eastern Cape hip-hop artist Jason “JBuz” Fraser released a song called Protest that ruffled more than a few feathers. In the song, Fraser offers a cutting but, more importantly, frank critique of the state of things following the spate of protest action in the northern parts of Port Elizabeth. Speaking truth to power, Protest was derived from another one that would have been titled Dear Athol, calling on Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip to address the social crisis that sparked the unrest.

If you’re not versed in Afrikaans, consult a dictionary or ask a friend. In the unapologetic approach of boom bap rap that characterised the genre in the Eighties, JBuz’s critique evokes the anti-establishment politics of NWA (N***** With Attitude) in the early Nineties, but less vulgar and with more poise. The rapper says the song is not a personal attack on the mayor. It is not an attack at all. It is calling leadership to account.

Lukewarm Bieber

First, Justin Bieber must be congratulated for actually showing up in countries outside of the United States and Europe for his world tour. Our local Beyhive is still waiting to welcome Beyonce’s Formation World Tour, months and months later. Rihanna also seems to have left us out in the freezing cold since her world tour for Anti. So, thanks Justin bbz!

Now for the performance: what a nonshow it was last week at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg. Crowds of Beliebers and shamelessly Bieber-loving grown-ups stood in line and marched on to the soaked trenches at the onset of a brutal winter to watch the young pop icon live. By the looks of things — with a princely stage under dazzling lights and crisp sound with almost zero feedback — the showcase was worth the time, money and lousy weather.

A few songs in, however, those in the audience reported a sinking feeling of being underwhelmed. His entrance needed a second take (with oomph this time!) and his dancing was lonely. Bieber even forgot to dress up. Or maybe it was too nippy for him to get out of his tracksuit. Talk about doing the least.

Bieber’s rapper contemporary, Travis Scott, on the other hand, outdid himself and nearly caused a stampede at a concert in Arkansas over the weekend. Scott was arrested for inciting a riot after inviting scores of overexcited concertgoers on to stage, paying no mind to the security controls in place. If only Bieber had had a sip of whatever Scott was drinking. It is getting difficult to defend your faves.

Spotlight on African film

This is the age of films made for us, by us. Adding to the diverse oeuvre of African narratives getting recognition from the African Movie Academy Awards is Akin Omotoso’s Vaya, with an impressive 10 nominations, and the Ugandan gem from Disney, Queen of Katwe, with eight. Nollywood raked in the gamut of nods with 93 Days, a movie about the 2014 Ebola crisis in Nigeria, and Oloibiri, the 2016 action thriller directed by Curtis Graham about the events that ensued after the first oil well was drilled in a Niger Delta village.

A TV tale worth telling

The Handmaid’s Tale, a series adapted from Margaret Atwood’s dystopian 1985 novel, is art somewhat mimicking life at the moment in the US, where women’s reproductive rights have come under threat from President Donald Trump’s anti-choice policies. The story is about the women in theocratic New England who are forced to bear children for the barren ruling class during a plague of infertility. These women lose their sense of agency and become functional incubators as they suffer ongoing rape. Starring Elisabeth Moss and Alexis Bledel, the characters find ways out of their subjugation one painful step at a time.