Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Pop queens Tansey and Jody indication of a shift in pop culture ?

Two young women, Tansey Coetzee and Jody Williams from the Coloured community, had the nation talking- if not the whole nation, then at least the Coloured community. This time it wasn't because TIK or Gangsterism or teenage pregancy or even a lack of ambition, so endemic of current media and popular stereotypes. It is also impossible to (again) put it on page 7. Basking in the glory of these 2 successful and evidently ambitious young women, we however also need to ask some questions. How serious should we take competitions like Idols and the Miss SA pageant ? For some of us, the answer is obvious: these simply represent the (marketing and therefore financial) interests of the shareholders of the companies driving it. To some extend, these 'beauty pageants' serve to entrench and now crudely commodify the sexist stereotypes of women. (Its also reflected in some expressions of the pop music genre, HIP HOP, so popular in our communities-which needs to be explored). Others would argue that these serve as a barometer of popular culture and need to be read, in context of its growing salience in shaping values and mores of our changing society (more then JZ or the prez). Maybe these arguments is taking the role of these shows too far and the problem lies in merely thinking in terms of extremes. The key lies in keeping the tension, a creative tension in celebrating the greatness and tenacity of our young people, in this case strong, young women, whilst reminding ourselves that (even) popular culture are many times influenced by predatory economic interests and therefore corruptible. In the same breath, we should salute them, but also refrain from loading on them the impossible duty of bearing the collective responsibility of saving a nation of mere talkers. We all share the responsibility of informing popular culture, towards a culture of achievers, like Tansey and Jody. You go girls !

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