Max du Preez

Racism sells

2010-12-08 11:19

Sex sells? I’m not so sure any longer. But I do know that racism sells if you choose your brand of racism and your market well.

The ANC Youth League’s Julius Malema and his sidekick, Floyd Shivambu, have learnt through experience that the more they insult whites and other minorities, the more excited their primary constituency becomes and the more the Youth League’s power grows.

Malema and Floyd know that there are a large number of angry black people out there, especially youngsters, who feel the end of apartheid did not really benefit them much and who know their future is not promising.

The Youth League operators know that poor, frustrated people always look for someone to resent, someone to blame for their troubles. Malema and co define that enemy and curse and insult them, something powerless young black people living in squatter camps would just love to do.

Selling music and books

What Malema thus does, is to identify a prejudice, a fear, a resentment, and then exploit it to sell his own brand. Appeal to the people’s basest instincts, go for the lowest common denominator, confirm people’s prejudices and you will sell, sell, sell.

But racism can also sell music and books.

When the rather obscure Afrikaans singer Sunnette Bridges recently declared on her Facebook page that a sjambok was the only thing that would make her black employee work better, she was all over the front pages, Photoshopped picture and all.

Bridges was overwhelmed by thousands of people who wrote on Facebook, websites and newspapers’ letters pages that they feel exactly the same; that they thought she was brave to defy the laws of political correctness; thanking her for speaking the truth in public.

Her music suddenly started selling better.

And then came the Afrikaans writer Annelie Botes. She doesn’t like black people; she is afraid of black people; black people are not angry because of apartheid, but because of their “own incompetence”, she said in a newspaper interview.

Golden opportunity

Again, she received overwhelming support from ordinary white Afrikaners thanking her for expressing their own views so fearlessly and publicly.

She knows and her publishers know that her books are going to fly off the shelves this Christmas.

Never to miss out on a golden opportunity, singer Steve Hofmeyr then tried to out-racist Bridges and Botes in a remarkably ignorant and offensive racist remarks on his website.

If anybody had generalised and insulted Afrikaners in the same way Hofmeyr insulted black people (Afrikaners are dumb, crude paedophiles, wife-beaters and murderers of blacks, for instance), Solidarity, AfriForum, the Freedom Front Plus and other friends of Hofmeyr would have reacted swiftly with threats, protests and court cases.

But Hofmeyr is on old fox. He has played the populist card before with his public bigotry and cameo appearances at symbolic events such as Eugene TerreBlanche’s funeral - and it has worked.

I suspect Hofmeyr sat back with a big smile when he saw the Sowetan’s front page headline on Monday, Top Muso’s Racist Rant - and started imagining how many CDs he was going to sell as a result of this new publicity.

It’s the same recipe as the one Malema and Shivambu are using: zoom in on the ordinary people’s basest fears, prejudices and resentments and reaffirm them; use your celebrity status to speak for them.


Some commentators have observed that public figures such as Bridges, Botes and Hofmeyr are actually doing us all a favour by expressing the fear and hatred so many whites feel so we can start dealing with it in our national discourse.

Perhaps there is some validity to this. These three’s utterances have indeed led to quite a bit of a debate.

But if you’re one of those who say every racist, sexist, homophobe and religious fundamentalist should now start spewing his filth and hatred in public because it stimulates debate, then you should stop criticising Malema and Shivambu for their populism and you should welcome the ANC song Shoot the Boer.

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Read more on:    ancyl  |  floyd shivambu  |  steve hofmeyr  |  julius malema  |  sunette bridges

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