|Robert Kirby - Loose Cannon|
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Music and Censorship
Copyright & Media Issues
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In February 2004, a 3rd Ear Musician friend was invited - by way of an extremely large & attractive offer that he refused - to have a popular song of his used in a TV documentary & the commercial advert that would announce this project. After reading the script we were horrified. The producers wanted to link this song to a particular section of the production that was totally out of context. Scenes that had nothing to do with the song, the sentiment or the singer. To their credit, and our surprise, the commercial music publisher who owns the tune, also turned down the offer. 5 months later Robert Kirby had this to say about the completed project - which we have not visited or seen. We believe that the project, which is a factual historic look back at the policy of apartheid, is a great success. It is by all accounts very well researched & presented... but for the music? (Although it seems as if the TV documentary has faded into oblivion)
3rd Ear Music adds - It's a pity that Music Radio & TV cannot afford (so they say) to dig a little deeper into our natural hidden music history. It's unforgivable for a film, TV, radio or record producer who deals & barters for the use of music in soundtracks & programming not to know where & why certain musicians & music existed, outside of the commercial mainstream. These producers have apparently acquired all the necessary technical skills, social graces & political knowledge (and deep throat connections?) to make them PC patriotic scoundrels of the first order; but when it comes to popular community musicians who wouldn't / couldn't make commercial records & yet who could attract thousands to festivals, clubs & concerts without a minutes airplay and very little mainstream media coverage besides - they know nothing. Music & musicians who influenced & made a contribution but who didn't make the charts are simply no longer part of the New Democracy. It's true what Roger sang.... Spaces Tell Stories.
There are a few current mainstream new-age producers & programmers (and a few of the old tarts as well) - with awesome public powers - who are wined & dined & force-fed to listen & dance to the latest commercial retro industry's repackaged back-catalogues. This is now the new PC history of music? Ho Hum & Yo Yo!
While cruising along this super-information rainbow highway it may be a good idea for those who use music for soundtracks & historic programming, to keep glancing into that old rear-view every now & again. Wouldn't want the past to overtake us now would we? Or worse still ram us up the rear. The young, as we keep saying, will soon be history - one of these days.... if they are lucky! May as well start preparing to defend yourself while you still can.
A malignant social felony
There go a few more million, this time in glamorous double-page spreads in the Sundays which, in glorious Technicolor, revealed Kader Asmal's plans for the future of tertiary education in South Africa. Not that the visionary Professor Asmal would stoop to using-such forthright language. The introductory fanfare to this explanation is as grandiose as the background against which it is written: an imposing university pediment.
The strategies for the transformation of the higher education system are at last in place. However, much work still needs to be done to turn the system around. We must succeed in this challenging task if we are to meet the aspirations and hopes of future generations of South Africans.
And there you were, thinking that old Kader is nothing but a high pressure windbag with a shiny smile problem. But there he is, displayed to one side of his sunlit hyperbole, moustache bristling with good intentions. There follow a thousand or so words of concentrated Kader unction to include the obligatory whinge about "our shameful apartheid past" - as we shall see, that "our" is very revealing. The rest of this hideously expensive prospectus is suffocating flatulence: promoting equity of access and outcomes and to redress past inequalities through ensuring that student and staff profiles... " and so on. Two vast pages of verbal broccoli.
The first things 1 want to ask Kader Asmal are quite simple. What is the purpose of spending huge amounts of money on baronial newspaper depositions about the universities of a utopian future while many rural primary schools have yet to receive this year's textbooks? And why not use a paltry million or two fixing their rotting floors and leaking roofs? Why not pay some of the long-outstanding salaries of rural teachers? Apart from a dainty fulmination or two, why do you steadily gaze in the opposite direction when a selection of your precious "learners" vandalises a university campus to the tune of R5-million?
Why do you, the same Kader Asmal, stand back and allow yourself to be dictated to, as if you were Unisa cleaning woman, by the likes of certain notables in that institution? Why do you allow these gents to flout not only established rules and conditions but to write their own gold-edged contracts, gorge themselves on university funds, ignore the dictates of Parliament?
Last question and, for the meantime, the most important. Why do you, as Minister of Education, give the nod on national television to what is a monstrous fulmination of neo-racist ideology?
SABC 2, with the assistance of the Robben Island Museum, this week began broadcasting a series of "educational" programmes called Looking Backwards Moving Forwards. Under this disarming title, the series has been designed for consumption by children aged between 9 and 12; its stated intention to ensure that such children are made aware of their past suffering under white domination. In other words a series of programmes annotating in detail, and to the exclusion of all other historical material, what black and coloured people have had to endure over the past 340 years at the hands of international trespassers - from European colonists all the way to the brutal masters of apartheid.
The first programme in the series was deeply slanted. It began by describing Van Riebeeck and company as "strangely pale-skinned" and "exploitative" - that latter was the actual word used to a battery of youngsters arrayed before their syrup-voiced "teacher" - as callous, greedy, murderous, cheating, criminal ... you name it. If Goebbels had had children's television this is about the line he would have taken on Jews.
What have we come to, Minister Asmal, when we intentionally infuse the minds of our children with hate and resentment? Honest people acknowledge that there have been evils in our history, and all are shamed by it. But what insane ends are served by this stirring up of racial envy and animosity, this spiteful infection of unspoiled minds? Do you require to produce a nation of permanent human casualties? Is this why you so cherish "our" apartheid past? Something with which to assault your children's joy?
Every week or so I drive past a local school. I see children of all colours and creeds mix and laugh in the school grounds, chatter on the pavements, jostle and shout. These are a first generation, children with at least the chance of growing up and being educated without exhumed racism polluting their minds.
Of course children should know their history. What they do not need when scarcely out of the cradle, is inculcation of highly selective material presented under the disguise "enrichment learning" Using the insidious techniques of television to sell very young children a manipulated truth is outrageous. It is a malignant social felony: an endeavour with no other apparent objective than to inaugurate a distrust and hatred of white people in black and coloured children's minds and with that, also to found generations of permanent victims.
To this appalling exercise, Kader Asmal, you are willing accomplice. Have you gone completely mad?
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