As bad as I feel my week has been, I’m pretty sure it’s been worse for Ard Matthews.
In case you’d been abducted by aliens (and I’m currently reading Stephen King’s Dreamcatcher so it seems quite likely at this point) and missed the entire skandaal, Just Jinjer frontman had the most epic of brain farts during a live performance of the South African national anthem, which was part of the Springbok squad announcement for the World Cup.
Now, South Africans are truly, notoriously unforgiving. We set such high standards for ourselves and our heroes that one slip up is enough to see you totally slammed. That’s what’s happened to Ard. And the poor guy, professional that he is, has accepted all the blame, made no excuses and simply apologised and apologised and apologised – and will continue apologising until he runs out of ways in which he can apologise. But it’s not looking good – I ran a poll on my site and almost 88% of the voters said that they wouldn’t accept any of those apologies, saying that there’s no excuse.
The public slamming and humiliation has started to get out of control. Local chicken franchise Nando’s ran an ad within 24 hours of the performance, broadcasters SuperSport and the SA Rugby Union have been hauled into Parliament to (ahem) face the music and even the infamous fellow-anthem destroyer Ras Dumisani has thrown in his five cents’ worth, saying that he thinks Ard “can’t sing at all” and that it “looks like he can’t concentrate on singing and playing the guitar at the same time – he should have got someone to accompany him.” This is rich, of course, coming from the guy whose rendition of the anthem was so bad that it was cited among the reasons the Springboks lost a match to France.
In among all of this, Ard has made no excuses. Okay, he has since posted a YouTube video to prove that he does in fact know the anthem.
But his behaviour is more than the now much-quoted Ras has done – after his debacle he blamed everything from the backing track to the crowd.
But it’s now got out of hand. The hate directed at Ard – who has been nothing but one of South Africa’s golden boys until now – is shocking. At the end of the day, it was simply human error. There was nothing malicious about it. Sure, Supersport could have allowed Ard a teleprompter. Sure, he could have stopped and started the anthem again. Sure, Bok coach P Divvy could have joined in like the redhead from the FNB ad – but none of that happened.
Let’s respect his apology and move on – and most importantly, let’s stop spewing the hate. We can’t go back and change the past, as I so often have to remind myself, so let’s rally forward. Forgive, forget, let it slide.