South Africans are loving soaps
(Editor: Tuming Lee)
Generations, Muvhango and Scandal constitute the crème de la crème of Mzansi’s local soap operas, attracting millions of viewership every weekday during prime time. Generations, with a viewership of 4 458 000 is not called Mzansi’s most watched soapy for nothing. Even though South Africans still enjoy American Soaps, they can’t help but feel patriotic every time they have to watch Kenneth Mashaba, devious media mogul played by Seputla Sebogodi, delivering his usual spectacular, SAFTA (South African Film and Television Awards) deserving performance of kicking out a subordinate from his office, with the classic line, “A bo re gwaa!” (Northern Sotho’s equivalent of ‘Bugger Off.’) This proves once more that local is always lekker. Nothing can make you feel more nostalgic than a home grown TV production with next door faces and local languages.
Everybody in South Africa loves his soaps, even this Baby by watching „Generations“
Just as Nelson Mandela is affectionately known as Madiba which is a clan name of which Mr Mandela is a member, South Africa is now simply being referred to as Mzansi. Mzansi is a term of endearment that means south and it was given to SA by its fabulous and vibrant Nguni language speaking youth. As in Ayoba (township slang for cool!), the word Mzansi has sneaked its way into the vocabulary of every curious mind in the country – young and old, black and white, print and social media alike to become the latest unity symbol of the rainbow nation. It is only a matter of time before Mzansi and Ayoba find themselves cosy little spots in the South African English dictionary, a global recognition that is long overdue.
Everyday some men and women hurriedly clear up their work desk and rush through traffic to get home before 6 pm for one more dosage of their favourite soap opera. More so, men than women because most men would rather have their limbs amputated than willingly admit to watching soap operas. Why? Because soap watching is embarrassing and considered a chick thing. Besides, what are Peter’s colleagues and buddies supposed to think when they hear how he had traded a perfect two hours of beer drinking and loud burping for an early night in front of the couch, biting his nails and hugging his pillow listening to best friends, Tshidi and Puleng’s in etv’s Rhythm City talking about whether or not Tshidi should marry Dylan or abort the baby. How would the guys perceive Peter, knowing that he was clutching to a pillow, shedding a tear the moment he learnt about Cheryl’s conspiracy to snatch her employer, Braam le Roux and marry him from right under her best friend’s Marlien’s nose in order to gain control of BLR Empire and get back at his number one enemy, former prisoner and millionaire ex-husband Barker Heinz.
The convoluted commentary typically characterises a soap opera plot where normally everybody is related either by marriage or birth but continues to intermarry, resulting in family disoriented off springs with a serious series of identity crises. The producers think it is a winning formula hence the recurring, feminine plot in almost all soap operas, leaving men with little or no entertainment.
Uninviting as soap operas might be to men, more and more males are rationalising their soapy watching as an occasional sneak peek in order to keep up with their women’s interests and so they let the world believe. They are quick to label soaps as hogwash and are always on tenterhooks waiting to deny their involvement in soap operas. Unsettling behaviour indeed.
Kgogo e e lelang pele, lee ke la yone – loosely translated, this saying means ‘the egg belongs to the hen that crows first’. The first ones to deny watching soap operas are usually the ones that watch it. It is an attention deflecting tactic away from the real culprits.
Even though men would be the first to confess that they do not find the plot of soap operas the least bit appealing and that they are only watching because of their wives or girlfriends, it is surprising how quick they are to proclaiming, that even if one does not watch soap operas for a year, Brooke would still be pining for Ridge while Eric Forrester will still be lusting after another bold and beautiful young thing to take as his next wife.”
Lo and behold, one year later, Brooke is standing by Ridge’s office door at Forrester Creations wearing a little red number that leaves a lot to the imagination and Ridge is left drooling and speechless one more time. Across the hallway in another office, Eric is on the phone, charming the pants off of Brooke’s sister Donna, inviting her to meet him at the Big Bear Cabin because he is divorcing Stephanie who has finally agreed to sign the divorce papers. What a strange coincidence! It is either soap opera’s plots don’t change that much or the men are lying and do actually watch soap operas behind women’s back. Female intuition says it is the latter.
On a serious note though, if so many people watch soap operas, doesn’t that put responsibility on the soapy production team to provide material that contributes positively towards the advancement of society? Therefore the question remains: Are local soap operas a true reflection of the current South Africa? More on this in Soap Operas True Reflection Of Current SA, Part 2.