Romance and rivalry from TV soapies
MILLIONS of South Africans sit comfortably on their couches to view their favourite soap operas for escapism, but are their lives reflected as they should be?
Generations, Muvhango, Scandal, Rhythm City and other local operas all spin cultural and other social phenomena for the entertainment of the public.
But what about essential and relevant material for public education?
Sowetan solicited comments from industry experts to find out if viewers receive content that conforms to their cultural beliefs and daily lives.
Writer, producer and filmmaker Busisiwe Ntintili, who has written for Isidingo and Generations, says soap operas were invented for fantasy, entertaining and portraying the lives of wealthy communities. The concept was based on "romance and rivalry".
"It was only at a later stage that the target was extended to other communities, including the middle class, and we see today that the poor are also watching these soapies," Ntintili says.
He says viewers in the US and European countries are already shying away from watching soapies because they "do not add any value" to their lives. As for the majority of black South Africans, "we are still limited to the SABC channels and e.tv".
But what has been done to accommodate the middle class and the poor?
In 2009, former Generations actor Sello Maake ka Ncube, who plays the scheming Daniel Nyathi on e.tv's Scandal, took over from industry novice Zamambo Tshabalala, who went on strike for 30 days. His concern was the lack of local content and how culture is portrayed, "or the lack of it".
While Ncube expressed his disappointment at having been "part of a system that was killing the art", Tshabalala was concerned that if the SABC, the only channel accessible to the black majority, was "cabling content from overseas, when was her creativity to be shared with her people"?
Muvhango's head of research Carol Shore admits her team cannot claim to "always get it right".
"When we tell a story, we pick a cultural aspect and bring more drama into it. We once took the idea of cremation as opposed to funerals. That concept did not sit well with the vhaVhenda people. We learn from our mistakes."