Whoever built the faith of our television makers in the use of text messages and emails as a means of communicating their feelings must have been created in 1994 or when cellphones were introduced as mainstream tools of communications after the military's monopolystic use of these mediums for many years. This is because every survey conducted by television stations using the text message (sms) or email as a barometre ends up being an untrue reflection of how 'real' people really feel. SABC 2 Morning Live's Leanne Mannas was mildly embarassed last year when she put it to Minister of Arts and Culture Dr Pallo Jordan that an email survey they conducted a day earlier showed that the majority of people did not support the renaming of Johannesburg International Airport to O.R.Tambo Airport. Jordan responded that the people who voted are not the majority of the people but the privileged few who own computers and have access to telephone lines and the internet. The majority of South Africans don't have access to such expensive mediums which means the country can't be held hostage by a privileged clique.
When SABC 3 tried to be smart some few years ago by inviting viewers to nominate the 100 Best South Africans (an idea they borrowed from the United Kingdoms) they were horribly surprised when the nominees topping the list were your Dr Hendriek Verwoed, Cecil John Rhodes, DF Malan, Jan Smuts and all the racists who made this country the ungovernable concept it is today. There was no mentioning of the great General De la Rey or his boss General Piet Cronje with whom they fought on the northern front during the Anglo-Boer War. Your envisaged Chief Albert Luthuli, Robert Sobukwe, Steve Biko, Johnson Mlambo, Dr Nelson Mandela, OR Tambo or Beyers Naude were bottom of the list or somewhere between top and bottom. Problem? The viewers who had access to the voting mechanisms (email and sms) were the privileged few who constitute a majority in their own fortresses. Well I have internet and a cellphone which makes me one of the majority. Imagine a 100 Best Zimbabweans list being topped by Ian Smith, Roy Bennet, Cecil John Rhodes, Morgan Tsvangirai, Oliver Mtukudzi, Mafume and no Robert Mugabe or Joshua Nkomo. Would that fly in Zim? It never did here. SABC 3 was forced to embarassingly pull off the show to avoid disappointment on the part of the partisan board. For sure Mugabe won't stress if Smith topped a list for 100 Best Rhodesians or 100 Best Colonisers.
Funny enough when the British ran theirs the list was made up of people they all valued, William Shakespeare, Winston Churchill, Margareth Thatcher, Richard Branson etc. BBC was right, the Brits have computers and cellphones in real majorities. This is once again not about black and white but Third and First World status.
The question should be; do television makers really think that whoever casts their electronic votes are a reflection of the South African public? Most of us don't take those competitions and surveys seriously. etv has been asking for some time who is the star that is stronger than superman. Everybody could see the person is Chuck Norris but very few people saw the reason why they should stress about it and waste a valuable sms.
etv's Third Degree conducted its survey after the Minister of Safety and Security Charles Nqcakula's verbal diarrhea last year. The conclusion of the survey was forgone, it was meant as a stake to legitimately crucify him. If ever the majority went against the crucifixion, your guess is as good as mine, people would be accused of being anarchists as is the case every election year when people continue to put the African National Congress in power irrespective of its shortcomings. In the case of Nqcakula the majority of those who posted comments were not the real crime victim majority but the ones freshly initiated into the crime cycle. For example, Kanyamazane and Msogwaba (Mpumalanga) areas are Presidential nodes in relation to high crime rate and it has been that way for years, but did you hear anyone starting a website domained www.crimeexposouthafrica.co.za discouraging tourists to come here on 2010? No ways. Why? Maybe because the people have been so numbed by crime that it has become their way of life.
True, Nqcakula and his police are out of order because they only see crime when their own get killed, which means if none of them got killed in the line of duty us civilians don't matter and they won't clamp down on crime and arrest 500 suspects in one night as they did last year immediately after their own was shot and killed. But do we need television to redirect us to how we should feel by sending messages, not for free but at an expense? Can't you use that amount you deploy to send a text message to etv to call 10111 in the event of a real attack?
Another real joke was SABC 1's invitation for people to vote for their favourite continuity presenters by sms. Please, wasn't that cosmetic? Wasn't it a foregone idea that they will take the chap from Channel O to present in isiZulu? Correct me if I'm wrong. Same thing with Asikhulume's sms survey. Some critical smss don't end up in the show, and don't be fooled and send during the show because it will never get through. It nearly is the same with MTN Soccerzone but a little interesting fact is that with Soccerzone there are times when the sms gets through, how, nobody knows.
Finally it is the MNet's Big Brother. There are complaints that if you are a black contestant you either need to be ridiculous in behaviour for the majority decoder owners to keep you there. Well, I don't have a decoder and so I can't comment. They say that the majority will just vote for you to be evicted from the house because they don't like you, which then says the process is flawed because the world is not an animal farm and people are not equal, some have money for decoders while some don't, which means those without the money for decoders will never win Big Brother. But careful, we are talking about South Afrika where more than 2.5million darkies are said to be black diamonds, which means black middle class earning above R15000,00 per month. For sure they can afford decoders (they have them) but they hardly take the voting seriously.
Last year on Strickly Come Dancing, contestant Babalwa Mneno was so enraged that she was evicted from the show because she didn't get enough votes. She made the whole expulsion a race issue, arguing that blacks should have voted for her and we should support each other like whites. But, was her victory going to benefit anydarkie if not just herself?
Hasn't it worried you that the number of smss that you have to send in a day are too much as if they mattered? Blow by Blow, MTN Soccerzone, Tooning You, Rugga Live, SMS House, 35050 etc. Maybe televison makers did their research and found sense, or they are the ones who lack that sense. You send a few smss and be the judge. Remember, Statistics don't lie, but you can lie through statistics, ask the Holocaust Denialists,