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January 1995, Week 2


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Jeremy Butler <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 11 Jan 1995 16:46:26 CST
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----------------------------Original message----------------------------
From:         [log in to unmask]
Date:         11 Jan 95 10:37:40 SAST-2
> Jeremy--I'm not sure if this fits your category, and I'm sure others on
> this list are far more knowledgable than I, but I'm sure the curious
> practice of "banning" individuals in South Africa gave rise to some
> interesting discrepencies of representation.
> --Don Larsson, Mankato State U., MN
Dear Don
    Banning, jailing - all attempts to efface people and their
beliefs - led to interesting results here, to say the least.  The
first picture of Mandela after his release, was printed on the front
pages of a mainstream newspaper here, with the words: Here he is.
It's still among many people's favourite clippings.
     Censorship tries most of all to hide its own existence, but
brave, especially alternative, newspaper editors in South Africa tried
to subvert that at the height of repression by actually printing
their newspapers with crude black lines where censored articles would
have been.  Then this too was banned.  T-shirts with "subversive"
messages were banned.
    Just as it attempted to create "pure" areas of the country, the
State tried to "purify" minds of alternatives and opposition; it
tried to pretend that its vision - apartheid, and its reformist
mutations - was the only one.  Surveys among some white viewers
showed that this was distressing successful; our television was
amongst the most crudely wielded of these state apparatuses.
    Recent public hearings for the new South African Broadcasting
Corporation Board produced a rivetting moment: a unshakeable black
judge questioned the old Board Chairperson, Christo Viljoen, about the
lack of access to the state broadcaster suffered by legal, but
obviously discriminated against, extra-parliamentary groups.  Viljoen
had no answer.  It was the most devastating moment
of truth - silence.
    I would say that bannings and censorship lead to a dangerous
hierarchy of those who have access to information, and those who
do not.  Information is an instrument of power, and diminished access
merely places that power in fewer hands.
    Thank you Don for raising this issue.
    Gabeba Baderoon, U Cape Town
Gabeba Baderoon
Department of English
University of Cape Tonw
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