Friday, September 18, 2009

Kentucky Fried Chicken and rape

There is an ad on television at the moment which really bothers me. A woman, with flowing locks buys a Kentucky fried something-or-other. She walks away. Suddenly, behind here, the camera focuses on the jeaned legs and skeechered feet of someone following her. Hurried steps. She glances over her shoulder. Starts to walk a little faster. The feet behind her step on relentlessly, purposefully. She glances again, nervously now, and the feet keep coming. She clutches her jacket around her purse. She starts to half run now. The music starts to build the tension. She runs, ducks between two pillars, then launches at the man and kicks him between the legs. As he drops to the floor in agony, he groans “You dropped your purse”.
“Sorry!” she says, looking wildly apologetic

Now, the humour of the ad is supposed to be, that she made a big mistake. Ha, ha, very funny! Here was this guy trying to do a good turn, and look what he gets as a reward! That is what it is supposed to mean. And I suppose, in a normal society, there would be some humour in it. But this is not a normal society. This is a society with one of the highest rape rates in the world. This is a society which has been so damaged by the violence and dehumanisation of apartheid that we are all collaterally affected by it, even though it is some 16 years dead. The effects of apartheid cannot be simply wished away – the violence remains. It is there, just below the surface. It makes itself felt in violence of one sort or another. And especially, it makes itself felt in violence against women.

Here is what bothers me. On national television there is being beamed a scenario, where the woman over-reacts to the situation. Isn’t that typical? – is what the ad is saying. Isn’t that the way women always react? A perfectly innocent situation is interpreted as something sinister! The man is misunderstood!

I think this is a really dangerous message, masquerading as a joke. And the fact that KFC, one of the most popular and powerful brands in the country – particularly amongst working class people – is flighting it, is really worrying. Seriously worrying. I would say reprehensible.

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