Remember 1989, remember Santa Barbara, Hardcastle and McCormick, McGyver, Airwolf, Sending Vietnam? Half of the readers of this blog will remember all these stories, the characters they made, the trends they set and the hype that surrounded them. With such rememberance which came with the emergence of People Magazine and its obsession with everything glitzy comes a sigh of relief that they are better off in the buried past. We even erected a tombstone and inscribed epitaph on it. It is easy to remember them since most of South Afrika was only covered by
SABC's TV1 while there was a broadcaster called BBC (Boputhatswana Broadcasting Corporation) which was situated in an 'independent' bantustan run by Chief Lucas Mangope. Technology was so advanced that it used to beam right into the other Bophuthatswana in the Orange Free Street without spilling into other parts of the vast Transvaal Province.

Around that time, there used to be a punctuation of programmes by news that were often about three Transkei terrorists who were found burnt in their car after the explosives they were carrying exploded prematurely. That was before central locking systems, remember that. Around that time again there was another popular television series, which was now supposed to be a dinosaur named Dallas set in oil rich Texas whereby its ending is still voted the most trivial of all times. What with a character named JR being shot and no one knowing who shot him. Even today, nobody knows, same as the man who shot Tupac. 'Who shot JR?'
Then you thought you won't need to wonder anymore about who shot JR or about who those three terrorists were since it was discovered years ago that their names were Messrs Matthew Goniwe, Sparrow Mkhonto and Fort Calata. And the argument was; one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. The televised Truth and Reconciliation Commission found that they were not really 'terrorists' in the United Nations school of thought but members of the then banned African National Congress, and they were killed by the Security Branch of the apartheid South African Police.
You are still wondering why such painful historical facts are brought to the fore? Simple, it is because while one is trying to forget the news around that turbulent time etv and its competitors are working very hard to remind us of those incidents by bringing back to the screens shows like Dallas. For the life of me I don't understand why in this age of oil wars in the Niger Delta and Iraq can Dallas, which as I told you earlier is set in Texas where now United States of America President George Bush who started a war over oil used to be a governor and which he calls home. Is there maybe a hidden message behind the re-screening?
Around the same time of Dallas there was another show called Santa Barbara on TV1 which was set in California's Los Angeles Santa Barbara district. It was a story of unrequited romance involving two families and a puppy love hungry investigator named Cruz Castillo, an American of Latin-American descent who was in love with the daughter of a mogul. It was more like Romeo and Juliet. Where in the world have you seen such, when he even went to the length of budging into the villa demanding to see his protected lover, Eden Capwell. Imagine a constable in the SAPS budging into the Kaizer Motaung household demanding to see Jackie?
All of a sudden there is All my children and my all time favourite junks called Judge Judy and Ricky Lake. Both the former are set in the times when FUBU was the in-thing and every wannabee rapper wouldn't want to be caught dead out of a FUBU or Pelle Pelle. In case someone lied to you that all Americans are wealthy like those you see on Bold and the Beautiful, watch Ricky Lake to see the poorest of the poor, the fattest of the fat and the vulgarest of the vulgar. And the version being currently screened in South Africa is way too old.
One observer once joked that the foreign currency exchange rate at the JSE is actually a reflection of the number of years we are behind in the technological and economic divide with the rest of the world. He said that if they say the rand to dollar rate is $1 for every R6,75 it means that we are six years behind.
With this in mind one wonders what does the five to ten year difference on the shows that etv and SABC are good at buying saying about us? Are they saying those 1990s FUBU gears we see on Ricky are what's supposed to dictate the trends here? Yesterday the exchange rate was $1 for R7,25, are we now that backward?
etv and SABC must stop these discredited practise of brining obsolete shows to these shores and start producing local or buy the latest. One wouldn't be surprised if they brought back Melrose Place or Beverly Hills 90210. Import and export laws are meant to protect the local market from foreign competition. Free trade only works when there is huge government subsidy. Which is important when those overseas competitors are really competing instead of dumping. Most of the junk that makes South Africa's prime and daytime viewing does not even make it where it is produced. Do you still remember Mind Your Language? A British show which was made in the 1970s and broadcast here in the 1990s. In the Heat of the Night? Something from the 1980s. 21 Jump Street? That is the show that launched Johnny Depp and I doubt if he still finds it not embarassing to watch.
Otherwise for those who expect television license fees from owners they will have a hard time when that fee is not circulated in the country to produce local content but to go to the American rubbish bin, become celluloid hobos and pick what has been thrown there. Vote with your money.

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