The Ard of Anthem Singing

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.

 

Iconic Oprah moments

I wrote a 15 Great Oprah Moments piece for work – but here are MY favourite moments. Now, I don’t particularly like her (though I don’t really dislike her either) – but there’s no denying what she’s done for women in the industry. With the final ever episode airing in the States today (here in South Africa we’ll probably get the final episode in about 5 years time!) I decided to take a look back at some of the many, many moments that made Oprah Winfrey an icon.

America’s most racist town: In 1987, Oprah travelled out of her studio to Forsyth County in Georgia, where white residents had made it known for years that black people were not welcome. One man, Dennis, said he was “afraid” of blacks coming to the county. He also used the word “nigger” repeatedly as he spoke to her. Oprah was hailed for remaining calm at the meeting and not being drawn into responding. Years later, the man contacted Oprah – saying he was “the bearded man” from Forsyth – and told her that he no longer uses the word.  Defending his use of it, however, Dennis said, “I spoke from what I had lived and that’s all anybody can do.”

The Wagon of Fat: Oprah’s struggle with her weight has been famously documented. In 1988, Oprah tried “Optifast” – a fasting and supplement programme – which she thought would be her “final answer” to her diet battle. For four months she didn’t eat a single morsel of food – and dropped around 30kg to just under 66kg. She squeezed into a pair of tight jeans, pulling a wagon full of fat – representing the weight she had lost – onto the stage. However, two weeks after starting to eat real food again, she had picked up almost 5kg again. How she didn’t realise that the weight was going to spring straight back is beyond me – but I suppose it was the 1980s and dieting pretty much equalled starvation at that point.

Oprah and the Fat Wagon

Oprah and the Fat Wagon

An eye-opening experiment: I love this idea so, so much. I would have loved to have been there. In 1992, Oprah set up an experiment with diversity expert Jane Elliot to prove the power of discrimination. When the audience arrived for the taping, they were separated into two groups based on their eye-colour – although they weren’t told why they were split. The blue-eyed people were pulled out of line, told to put on green collars and were treated badly by show staff. The brown-eyed people were asked to step to the front of the line, given coffee and doughnuts and treated respectfully. The segregated audience was then told that brown-eyed people were smarter. The blue-eyed people were visibly upset at being discriminated against, while the brown-eyed people became smug and bought into the idea that they were superior. The idea behind the experiment – to prove how arbitrary judgements based on skin colour are, and how susceptible we are to prejudice and misinformation.

More after the jump…


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‘Baywatch’ is back, baby…

I seem to have lost my mojo.

I know exactly where it went, but in the meantime it’s made posting anything valuable very difficult. I am currently working on regaining said mojo, but you may have to be a little patient. It seems that everything I’ve tried to write this week (movie reviews, quirky articles, text messages, blog posts) have either been a spectacular failure or spectacularly average… and I haven’t decided which is worse.

Okay, personal bit over. I’m fully aware that nobody cares whether or not I’m having a bad week – y’all don’t come here to listen to me whine.

Baywatch

Ah, 'Baywatch'. Such a fundamental part of my childhood. (Seriously).

Something that did make me laugh was the news that they’re actually planning a big screen edition of Baywatch. Yep, the gloriousness that was the classic 1990s television series – who brought us Yasmine Bleeth and Pamela Anderson – is getting the movie treatment.

Am I the only one who finds this hysterically funny? Sure, the show was insanely popular and at one stage drew 1.1 billion viewers a week (With Pamela Anderson in a ridiculously tiny bathing suit, and what do you expect?), but now we look back on it in an “Ooh, I can’t believe I ever watched this!” fashion.

My prediction? Well, you know this is going to be shot in 3D. Expect ninety minutes of slow-motion running down the beach, with two hot-but-not-that-talented stars, what our lifestyle editor deemed a “plastic surgery convention” and hopefully, for the love of all things, much sexier bathing suits. Also, I foresee at the very least a David Hasselhoff cameo – I can’t see them sobering him up for long enough to shoot a full movie.

No Strings Attached director Ivan Reitman has decided that this is a “big opportunity” for filmmakers. A big opportunity for what, I’m not sure. But I’m not a Hollywood bigwig and such mysterious are beyond my ability to unravel. Unfortunately, the film does not have a script just yet – but let’s be honest, how much of a script would be required?

And now, in case you’ve forgotten what Baywatch is all about, here’s the opening sequence from the show. You can curse me later, when you’ve been singing the title track for a full six hours.

Ah, that post-Oscar glow… Killed by Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen in 'Two and a Half Men'

Whew. What a ride.

Easily the busiest day of my entire year is Oscars day – the morning after the show is broadcast in the United States. This year it involved me sleepwalking into the office at around 5.45am and trying to keep up with all the announcements.

Hardly a very surprising selection of winners – the Academy is nothing if not predictable – and my prediction rate of the major categories (best actor and actress, best supporting actor and actress, best picture and best directing) stands at 100 percent in the two ceremonies I’ve covered for work.

So now that the Oscars have finally glittered away into the distance, we’re left with nothing less than the spectacular insanity of Charlie Sheen.

A colleague of mine sent this gem of an interview from ABC’s Good Morning America. In this clip, Charlie Sheen claims that he is not bipolar, but “bi-winning” and talking about how much drugs he took (“I was banging seven-gram rocks”) and how he won’t die (“Dying’s for fools”). Full clip after the jump… Continue reading

How does Charlie Sheen still have a career?

Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen in 'Two and a Half Men'

It’s a valid question.

The guy apparently snorts enough cocaine to kill the average person, trashes hotel rooms and terrorises “escorts” into hiding, threatens to murder his wife and gets drunk enough that he needs to be admitted to hospital (No, Charlie – nobody believes your hernia story).

He’s now supposedly been admitted to rehab for a three-month long treatment programme, which will disrupt the filming of eight episodes of the inexplicably popular Two and a Half Men. That means the entire cast and crew – and there are apparently 300 people working on the show – get to sit around and twiddle his thumbs while they wait for him to check back out.

This wouldn’t be a problem, I don’t think, if this was the first time it had happened. But it isn’t. In February 2010 Sheen announced that he was going to take a break from Two and a Half Men and check himself into rehab. CBS (the network) were extremely supportive of the decision – though Sheen was back to work by March.

Look, they pay the guy around $2-million per episode. But it’s apparently worth it, with the Los Angeles Times reckoning that Warner Bros. Television will earn around $600-million in syndication rights off the show over the next few years. For South African readers too lazy to do the math, that works out to over R4-billion. And with ad revenue of around $155-million (over R1-billion) during the 2009/2010 season alone, it’s completely reasonable for them to hang around until Sheen ducks out of rehab again.

But if he’s MIA, the network loses a lot of money. The show can’t work without him, and so production stops. They lose out on a reported $3-million in syndication per episode – plus crew salaries if they decide to continue paying those while Sheen’s out.

And so while it’s currently plausible for Warner Bros. to wait around for Charlie Sheen, that’s all too likely to change. I’m guessing the studios will only have so much patience for a guy who’s in the headlines for his associations with hookers, porn stars and drug-addled escorts rather than his association with the show.

Making Facebook friends

It’s good to see that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has a sense of humour. Also, witness the pulling power of Saturday Night Live – it seems that they can get pretty much anybody to do anything.