The revolution might not be televised, but the war certainly is

In 1970, there was a quote that emerged that became mangled, metastasized and immortalised; the Revolution will not be televised because the people who were revolting would be too busy revolting to watch. They’d also be too busy taking out the TV stations, which didn’t reflect their needs, aspirations or especially point of view.

It’s tempting to wonder if we’d be better off if the tragedy in Ukraine wasn’t as televised as it is now. There’s a huge case to be made – and has compellingly been made by my friend Gasant Abarder – of the double standards we are witnessing. There are many other crises across the world; human rights atrocities being perpetrated and war crimes being committed with not even a fraction of the coverage nor the concomitant outrage. There’s a reason for that; xenophobia and naked racism are as good as any.

The revolution might not be televised, but the war certainly is; wall-to-wall, moment by moment with the same passionate involvement among its fans as a soccer match – in fact Twitter even branded one of our own Madame Defarge’s fellatory tweets for Vladimir Putin as sport. As you might expect, it’s bringing out the very worst in people; airing prejudice and exposing the unutterable stupidity of some who shouldn’t be allowed to cross the road without an adult holding their hands.

But that’s the beauty of social media. The mask slips. One day there’ll be a comeuppance, especially if employers or future employers are scraping the timelines of their staff or job applicants. In the case of Duduvanka Defarge, fresh from the nadir of her very own Durban July, she’ll be lucky not to be in the dock one day.

It’s amazing to think that we are living in the most mediated world imaginable: We’ve never had more access to information than we’ve had now, but we’ve never been more misinformed. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the fascist enablers or the sheep dip swilling COVID-19 conspiracy theorists, there are an incredible number of people (and it’s growing) who believe variously that the earth’s flat, there’s a Deep State running Washington led by paedophiles (though surprisingly few think that of the Vatican) and that you can ‘deNazify’ a sovereign country by forcibly invading it and trying to assassinate its Jewish president.

Still we shouldn’t point fingers, we live in a country where many of us believe we can save a power utility by using less electricity, rather than paying for it and where the ruling party can actually take to the streets and march against itself in protest against policies it has implemented.

What’s disappointing is that all these fake opinions and alt-facts, shift the focus and attention from all the other crises and tragedies. It also prevents us celebrating other important moments.

There were two this week: there wasn’t a single COVID-19 death recorded in South Africa on Monday – the first time since May 2020. And the second one was the retirement of Wayne Minnaar after 41 years in the JMPD. He’s a legend. Sometimes he was better known than the mayor(s) he served. 

Enjoy your retirement, Wayne, you’ve deserved it.

Originally published by the Saturday Star on 5 March 2022