Skrywenswaardige artikel – ek like hierdie ou!

Soos ek vanoggend op News24 gaan om die artikels te lees, sonder om die fotos te sien van bejaarde mense wat aangerand word en verkoolde lyke in Australie ala Beeld…..lees ek hierdie ou se artikel raak. Ongelukkig gaan ek myself in baie van sy kategoriee moet sit want (en ek se hierdie UITSLUITELIK om myself beter te laat voel) ek is menslik. Maar goeie artikel. Publiseerwaardig hier op die Mielie stronk 🙂

Margaret Atwood once wrote, apropos of the Holocaust and the common human condition of evil, “The trouble some people have being German? I have being human.”

Well, the problem some people have being scum-sucking bottom-feeders, I have being a journalist. Sometimes.

Is exposing Joost van der Westhuizen‘s private life in the public interest?

The Mail & Guardian staff broke one of their fantastic exposes last week, revealing ANC spokesperson Carl Niehaus as a fraudster, effectively ruining his life. Well, at least until he gets rehabilitated in the Allan Boesak Church of the Second Chance.

Is exposing Carl Niehaus in the public interest? Most would say yes – he’s the spin doctor for the ruling party, a party that’s plagued by corruption allegations. The public needed to know how peculiarly well-qualified for that job he was.

But Joost van der Westhuizen? Exposing him seems to be more about an interested public than public interest. Of what possible relevance is it to me that an ex-Springbok is allegedly a hypocrite, a drug-taker, and a user of prostitutes? I never thought sportsmen were anything less than human, and I hope that, after Hansie Cronje, we’re all beyond thinking they’re anything more.

The South African Beckhams

I’m busy reading Steve Hofmeyr‘s intriguing autobiography, Mense van my Asem, and although I hold no brief for celebrities who whine when the hand they feed bites them, hearing the story from the other side does give you pause for thought. He describes Joost and Amor as “the South African Beckhams”, which becomes even more apt given current circumstances.

Now the customary argument here is, if you want to be a celebrity, you shouldn’t complain when the media hounds you. And that’s a fine argument, if what you’re arguing about is whether celebrities have the right to object to certain kinds of coverage.

It’s not an unassailable argument, of course. Tabloids and gossip magazines seem to feel that the fact that they and celebrities are involved in a symbiotic relationship of publicity and sales, means that the celebrity has sold his soul to the devil, and it’s the job of all vigilant tabloid saints to take every opportunity to burn him at the stake.

This can come back to bite them, as with the News of the World and Max Mosley, where the paper ended up paying £60 000 in damages, and £850 000 in costs.

But I’m not a celebrity, and neither are you. We’re readers, and the question we should be asking is, why do we want to read stories exposing celebrities as frauds and/or hypocrites?

Voyeuristic vampires

The only possible answer must be – because we’re childish wankers, voyeuristic vampires whose lives are empty and meaningless without the constant fort-da of erecting tinpot gods and then tearing them down, erecting them and tearing them down.

Carl Niehaus I can understand. There’s a certain kind of schadenfraud in it (like schadenfreude, but more particularly, the pleasure corrupt politicians experience when one of their own gets bust for fraud – and they don’t). There’s also a certain righteousness in that Niehaus is, in a sense, a servant of the people.

Hansie Cronje I can understand, Jacob Zuma and the Arms Deal I can understand. But a man who has no bearing on anything that I do, that my country does, and on anything that matters a damn – why take him down so viciously?

Sure, he’s a Blue Bulls supporter, but jeez – even that’s no reason. Some people will say that he claims to be a Christian and a family man, so he needs to be exposed as a hypocrite. Well, last time I checked, Heat magazine wasn’t exactly a magazine that had “pushing Christianity” and “building better families” as two of its editorial pillars.


Let me make this clear – I’m not riding a holier than thou hobbyhorse here. I’m not querying the editorial decision to publish a Joost expose. If you asked me baldly, would I, as an editor, have made the Joost video available for my readers, the answer would, unhappily, be yes. When the Joost video becomes freely viewable on the net, will I take a look? Unhappily, yes.

In both cases, I could propose mitigating circumstances. The video will inevitably be available everywhere anyhow, so I might as well be the first to show it to my readers. And I’m a writer, so I need to watch it so as to comment on it.

But in both those cases, I’d be lying to make myself feel better. I’d show it because I want to beat the competition. I’d watch it because of prurient interest.

There are more ramifications to this tabloid culture than just inconvenienced celebrities. In the UK, 27-year-old “reality TV star” Jade Goody has just been told that her cervical cancer is winning the battle with chemotherapy, and she has just weeks to live.

Comment around this includes people saying she doesn’t deserve sympathy, that her imminent death is in some way a punishment for being exposed as a racist on Big Brother, and that they’re looking forward to seeing her death on tv.

People seem to feel she isn’t human. She’s a celebrity, a reality tv star, a creature created by the media. She’s fair game.

We’ve stopped believing that celebrities are human, it seems. And for every celebrity we dehumanise, we lose a bit of our own humanity.



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13 responses to “Skrywenswaardige artikel – ek like hierdie ou!

  1. As joernalis kan ek waarlik sê dat ek saamstem met die skrywer van die rubriek. Carl Niehaus – nuus, Joost se video – net nuuswaardig om al die verkeerde redes. Wat `n rugbyspeler doen in sy private hoedanigheid is net nuuswaardig omdat mense sensasiebehep is en die koerante se inhoud dit reflekteer. Ek moet sê, ek het my die week geskaam om deel te wees van ons land se media.

    • My punt is Corli, daar is SOVEEL meer belangriker dinge om oor te skryf maar dieselfde stront word oor en oor in lesers se kele afgedruk. Sit Joost se gesig op die voorblad van die Beeld, Rapport en Huisgenoot en verkope gaan deur die dak. Vandag in die Beeld is daar artikel wat skryf oor Heat se retort in die Joost sage. Hulle se hulle het gevoel hulle moes hom ontbloot omdat hy nie is wat hy claim hy is nie. Hy is nie die rolmodel van 10 duisende volwassenes en kinders nie. WHO THE HELL CARES???? Hy IS wie hy is – net ‘n mens met foute, skuldig of onskuldig. Persoonlike figure KIES nie om in die media te wees nie. Hulle kies ‘n beroep en word publieke eiendom. Die media kies om hulle privaat lewe aan die wereld te verkondig. Dis skokkend. Ek stem, sit Carl, Jacob, Bob en Barack se gesig op die voorblad. Dis nuus wat die land en die wereld raak. Maar wie gee om vir WIE Steve en Joost en Jurie wine en dine….? Ek vra jou.

  2. Nee jong, ek gee beslis nie om nie. Maar baie mense daar buite geen om, of dit nou my goedkeuring wegdra of nie. En dit is wat redakteurs laat besluit om die storie te plaas – want dit verkoop. Ek wil egter met jou verskil oor of hulle kies om in die media te wees of nie. Toe Joost en Amor getrou het, was daar `n 8 bladsy spread in die Huisgenoot. Toe was hulle maar te dankbaar vir die publisiteit, is heel moontlik ook goed betaal daarvoor. En as jy dit wil doen, kan jy nie wil kla as die media die slegte nuus óók gebruik nie. Dan is jy lankal oor die lyn and there’s no going back.

  3. BJF

    Corli, ek stem saam met jou. Soveel soos wat hierdie sport ouens sport kies as ‘n career want dis hulle passie, kies sekere van hulle ook die publicity wat daarmee saam gaan. Nike, Puma, Adidas, Mr. Price etc. betaal hierdie ouens miljoene om hulle produkte te bemark, so op die ou end word hulle rol modelle vir ons kinders en dit MAAK SAAK wat hulle doen in hulle privaat lewe. Die feit dat dit indie media verskyn en ons almal VREET dit op, is ons eie skuld, want geen produk/media verkoop as daar nie ‘n koper is nie. Soos jy genoem het, Joost en Amor is baie vinnig in die media as daar glamorous spreads is of hulle verkoop hulle lewe aand die tabloids, soos enige celeb in die wereld, moet hulle die goed saam met die sleg vat.

  4. BB

    You said it all Deffie – ek het niks meer om te daarop by te voeg nie… daardie laaste sin is oh so true!!! (nevermind celebrity – it seems this whole world is so in need to dehumanize others to somehow make the self seem a bit more righteous or justifiable 😦 (Ek ken mense wat aan GEEN ander sport deelneem as vinger-pointing – ok, so meeste van hulle sukkel steeds met die gewiggies :mrgreen: , but how it makes them feel soooo good about their own little meaningless existence) 😳 – en toe voeg ek meer by as wat ek wou…
    Lekker om jou weer te lees Deffietjie x

  5. Hey! You could at least credit me here! Although I suppose ‘hierdie ou’ is a kind of a credit. And link through to my website, even. Tsk. I feel so used. Like you’re the cellphone in the handbag, and I’m Joost’s underpants.

  6. Ah, Chris! My apologies – I think what happened here is after I copied I tried to include your name but it then copied ALL the pictures on the article as well…and then, I guess, I forgot to add your name 🙂 Sorry. And yes, Ek like hierdie ou, is a good thing. Keep on writing, I enjoy your articles.

  7. So you’re not Julius Malema trying to get back at me? Then I forgive you, my son. Mielie, huh – good blog name.

  8. Corli, ja en nee. Hierdie comment word nou geplaas heelwat later as die eerstes en daar was verwikkelinge intussen oor Joost. Maar niemand weet steeds wie skuldig is nie. En in hierdie geval (rakende Chris se artikel hierbo) maak dit saak wat daar aangegaan het. Sou Joost skuldig wees dan, he made his bed. Sou hy onskuldig wees en die video is vir wat ookal rede gemaak (afpersing, revenge etc) dan is dit skokkend dat ‘n publieke figuur se lewe totaal en al ge’invade’ word deur ‘n paar idiote. Ek is nie ‘n Joost en Amor ondersteuner nie, maar ek ondersteun ‘n ouer wat in vrees leef vir haar kinders se lewens wat deur iemand omver gegooi word.

    Anyway, hoe sal ons nou weet? Let’s watch the papers…?

  9. Can Julius Malema write?

  10. Is goed om te sien iemand is bereid om te sê hoe dit is!

  11. Besides Oom Steve, of course.

  12. Would the REAL oom steve please stand up!

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