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.

 

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A right Royal mess

Charlene Wittstock

The new Princess Charlene of Monaco

So there’s pretty much only two things making headlines in South Africa at this point – the Great Vodacom Crash of 2011 (thank goodness I switched networks a few months ago!) and Charlene Wittstock’s wedding to Prince Albert of Monaco.

The whole thing was expected to be a fairytale affair… It’s a beautiful story (on paper ) – a Zimbabwean-born, South African swimmer catches the eye of the prince of the richest country in the world. Of course, that’s soured a little by the fact that said prince was also one of the biggest playboys in the world…

But after years of dating, Charlene Wittstock and Prince Albert of Monaco were due to wed in a highly anticipated summer ceremony. Rumours flew over the menu, the dress, the guest list – it was a wonderful reminder of that other royal wedding a little earlier in the year, only this time it was a Proudly South African wedding! And the new Princess of Monaco made sure that there was a wonderful taste of South Africa – wines from Stellenbosch, chefs from Zimbali and a touch of Afrikaans added to the proceedings.

But there’s a dark cloud hanging over the proceedings – one that, try as they might, can’t be covered by Armani embroidery and Swarovski crystals.

Those persistent rumours – that Charlene tried to run away – just won’t die down. And the more people try to brush the talk aside, the stronger it roars back… And it’s a case of well, where there’s smoke there is most likely fire, too. Continue reading

Rihanna’s ‘Man Down’ causes controversy. Surprise.

As E! Online so wonderfully put it, “Another day, another incendiary Rihanna video”.

The video in question has been widely covered across the marvellousness that is the interwebz, so I’ll keep the briefing short. (Or you can read more on my site).

Very basically, in Man Down, Rihanna executes the man who raped her. And the industry watchdogs are pissed. For various different reasons. It’s described as an “inexcusable, shock-only, shoot-and-kill theme song”. Which I think is going a little far, seeing as nobody’s actually bothered to listen to the lyrics and watch the video at the same time.

Tell you what, do that now and I’ll carry on after the jump…

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEhy-RXkNo0%5D

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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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Black mark on ‘Black Swan’?

Black Swan

Natalie Portman (or Sarah Lane?) in 'Black Swan'.

Quelle horreur! Natalie Portman didn’t do all of her own dancing on Black Swan? *dramatic gasp*

Oh wait, we knew that already. And even if we didn’t know it, we should have guessed. After all, the 32 fouettés that Odile (the “black” swan) performs in the coda are hardly something even your most talented amateur dancer would be able to perform.*

The issue at hand, however, is how much of the dancing Natalie did herself. Benjamin Millepied (Black Swan choreographer and Natalie’s fiance and the father of her baby) claimed that Natalie did 85 percent of the dancing. After reviewing all his footage, Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky believes its closer to 90 percent.

But Sarah Lane reckons that’s all a load of rubbish. She claims that she did 90 percent of the dancing, and that only around 5 percent of the full-body shots were Natalie.

Now, if you had to ask who Sarah Lane was, you’re probably like everybody else on the planet not closely related to her. Sarah Lane is Natalie’s body double – who went largely unnoticed during the hoorah of awards season and *gasp* didn’t get a mention in Natalie’s Oscar acceptance speech. She was apparently only listed as an extra in the credits, too. And now she’s determined to make everybody aware that Natalie is no prima ballerina.

It smacks of attention-seeking behaviour… And Lane has admitted that yes, she was peeved by the lack of recognition. But what else did she expect? Her career to suddenly take off, offers to join other ballet companies to start piling up at her doorstep? Instead of being gracious about it, going “well done, Natalie” and moving on, she’s caused a massive spat.

But, she says, she’s only talking about because she feels so personally insulted that we think that Natalie could possibly be a real ballerina.

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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.