I recently made a joke that I thought was rather worthy of the laugh I got from my friends. I said that South African artists (musicians) are so ahead of their time that they were making videos with cellphone camera quality before cellphones even had cameras.
Come on!! Well I thought it was good.
What reignited this genius bit of comedy was the latest music video by Solange Knowles. The sister of Beyonce, she always seems to have to prove herself, as little sister lore goes. She recently visited South Africa for a fashion shoot and to film the video. And wow wow wow is all I have to say. The song, “Losing You” is so cute, but sad and has an eerie quality about it. She has never sounded better. The video, on the other hand, is stunning. Simple dance moves, retro fashion and displaying the South African township in a positive way. Well, the whole thing seems a bit of a throwback with the fashion from an era by gone and she even dances the jitter bug. It’s just a thing of happiness and despite criticism that she took advantage of our townships and people and just breezed out without showing enough gratitude (really, people? The world owes us nothing) she produced a quality film.
This may seem like an oxymoron, but many people in eKasi (the location) simply see this as their homes and many do not like the ultra-violent perceptions which mainstream media represents. To them, it is what it is, life.
This video did the exact opposite, without going to an ideal. Many of you will disagree with me, but it is after all, a music video. Entertainment, right?
It reminded me of Janet Jackson’s “Got It Til It’s Gone” featuring Q-Tip with that awesome Joni Mitchell sample. That one, also filmed in South Africa, seemed darker in its depiction of a modern day Sophiatown-looking set. I also loved this one as there were only brief allusions to Apartheid and the rest of it seemed jovial, if a little gritty and far dirtier than Solange’s pop tribute to Mzansi. Jackson’s video does offer native implications which many may seem as offensive, but I thought it also captured an artful depiction of South Africa for the music video format. That is, short and meant to tell a story while still being entertaining. That was the story that she, and her tea chose to tell. The people are also depicted as happy while under oppression and simply living their lives. What people make of it is up to them, but I thought that it was also a good video, shot in our country, however by an international artist.
So the question: Why can’t we depict ourselves so splendidly like these international stars do? Simple shots, very few cutaways and not too many effects. Surely a big budget and grand idea should not stand in the way of our local artists showing off what they can do.
Check it out and let’s debate it. Big names from around the world (and Africa!) come here to take advantage of our natural beauty, so why can’t we?
We are too scared of being African and too scared of defining what this even means. It means being conscious and not being regurgitating what you have seen on American and European screens. The danger with creating art and trying to be something is going to the other extreme and getting stuck in the trap of being too hard on ourselves. So let’s take a cue from Solange and take it easy and just be.
After all, is everything in life not a throwback?
<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>