Comedian Conrad Koch, who once also faced allegations of using blackface, reflects on Leon Schuster, race and the politics of privilege.
When Showmax announced that it would be removing "racially insensitive" content from its offering, including many Leon Schuster movies, the public response was uproarious. While many applauded this decision, Schuster’s fans, black and white, don’t feel his portrayal of black characters - in full blackface, with hyperbolized stereotypical African accents, often referred to as 'blaccent' - is racist. In fact Schuster himself has said: "I really don’t want to harm anyone. I don’t want us to laugh at each other, I want us to laugh with each other".
If you don’t know Leon Schuster’s work, the basics are that he’s a white comic actor who made a huge name for himself in South Africa, during apartheid and after, doing candid camera type pranks. He’s created hit movies, many involving him playing a black character, or, in his Mr. Bones movies, a white character with a 'blaccent'. His Mama Jack character is no doubt in many ways very transphobic and sexist.