Do we really have to be cruel to express our views?

KB Motsilanyane and Bahumi Mhlongo play Lebo Mathosa.
KB Motsilanyane and Bahumi Mhlongo play Lebo Mathosa.
Image: SUPPLIED

About two weeks ago TV channel BET released the much-anticipated Lebo Mathosa biopic. I don't have a TV so I have not watched it , so I am not going to give you a review. I had been waiting in earnest for it, I just forgot on the day that it was coming out and so I didn't make plans to be at a place where I could watch it.

What I want to talk about, though, is the litany of negative comments and reviews around it by both the media and general public.

The issue for me is not that the show is bad or that people are finding it not up to standard, it is the way in which this is communicated that is the problem.

Anyone who works in an area of creating things from scratch knows that sometimes things just don't work out as per the plan. Sometimes the end result falls flat and short of the predicted outcome.

That is the nature of life and business, and failure is a normal aspect of things and we need to normalise it.

There is added pressure when your work has to live in the public domain. Trust me, though, it will not kill you, it really just be's that way sometimes, as Nina Simone said.

People have failures in their work all the time, what they have is the privilege of retaining their dignity because they are not turned into a public spectacle.

People lose millions of their company's money yet they don't have to deal with demeaning comments from people whose most acclaimed creation is a 140-character Tweet.

It is like going through a divorce when you are a public figure - people feel entitled to the most intimate details of your life. They feast on the "news" as though it has not taken heartbreak for the headlines to exist.

Just like that, people's loss, shame and pain are turned into a public spectacle that is open to all.

We really need to think deeply about what it is that makes the "downfall" of others something we use to rubbish every other thing they have accomplished. Is it that we want people to humble themselves or do we just want to see them humbled?

I am not innocent in this regard, but lately I have been thinking hard about how what we say can impact on the person at the receiving end.

Lazy journalism also does not help. Media houses ought to be ashamed of "Twitter responds to" when they should be producing nuanced articles about the topic at hand.

I speak from experience when I say that it is the hardest thing in the world to watch your work being reported on bulletin after bulletin in that harmful and damaging way.

The creative industry, especially, is under a lot of stress. People are having to create and make do with very limited resources. We owe the women and men behind these productions a lot more respect than that. They afford us the opportunity to revel in some sort of culture and keep our civilisation mobile.

Yes, they will make a wrong call here or there, we all do, but when you open your mouth, remember to let the many other times they got it right wash that dirty tongue of yours.

Most importantly, may everyone who works to create something new remember that we all have things we look back on in utter disbelief. They form part of our education and growth. And may you never ever need to seek validation from strangers.

Here's to successes and to failures, may they all be glorious.

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

X