Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Once again e.tv seems oblivious what it's doing, signaling and glorifying in its new publicity image for its new local drama The Alliance. Can you see it?

Please look at this picture. Study it.

Then look away or close your eyes.

Do you realise what you're seeing? Or not seeing? The subconscious image you're "taught" and left with?

Now look at this publicity image again that e.tv just released for its new local drama The Alliance starting on Wednesday 27 April at 21:30.

So, did you notice that the image that will be used to promote a fictional show with fictional characters in South Africa contains guns - in a country that has a problem with violence and gun violence.

e.tv glorifies gun use and makes having a gun (and by implication showing it off and using it, something that's sexy). Again, in a country that has a problem with violence, gun violence and murder.

Did you notice that also only the men are holding guns? Why not the woman? Is it because the other sexist stereotype (that e.tv is subtly and consciously or unconsciously enforcing) that men are the aggressors and protectors or attackers and shooters and women not?

The same happened with the local drama Heist on e.tv in February - not a single image was available of the cast in which guns didn't feature.

I wonder if e.tv's marketing and publicity division take these images with any conscious thought of what it's signaling to viewers, and even more broadly to South Africa.

I asked e.tv's publicity department for an image of The Alliance without guns. And was sent this. So e.tv does have one, the broadcaster just preferred to issue the media the one with guns included (and in the hands of men only):

A TV drama about a gangster, or a "bad" character or a "good" character (who might use a gun and shoot at someone in a show) doesn't need to have that character hold a gun in promotional material to indicate "ooh, he's a baddy and actually dangerous", or "ooh, he's a cop", or "ooh, he's in a position of power because he actually has a gun".

I'm not for guns or against guns. I don't own any gun but if I need one I will get one.

I don't have a problem with a show like for instance Arrow depicting the character with a bow and arrow where the weapon or instrument is inextricably part of the character of the character.

The publicity cast pics of series like Black Sails on A+E Networks UK's History (DStv 186) or HBO's Game of Thrones on M-Net Edge (DStv 102) doesn't feature guns or swords in people's hands although they're pirates and fighters. It's just people.

For South Africa to however just constantly add a gun to indicate it's a bad character in publicity images - especially in this country where in real life it's such a big problem - is frankly speaking just lazy, stupid, irresponsible and reprehensible.

I feel South African media and TV broadcasters have a responsibility to be a lot more conscious of what they show and how they promote it, and to be aware of the context of this country.

If a character is a drug addict, are you going to photograph her with a needle in her arm?

If a character is an animal abuser, are you going to photograph him holding a dog and his hands around its neck?

If you won't do these things, why is it okay to depict characters holding guns to get people to watch the show (unless it's a show like Duck Dynasty or Top Shot)?

We've become so "PC" and politically correct - especially broadcasters, in several areas - and yet in an area where we/they can gladly evolve and be more sensitive and just more aware, a public channel like e.tv is sadly just not.