Super-Pooper vs The Pooper-Scooper: A new SA (s)hit
South Africans should stop torturing local film makers and just admit they don't support local culture
“Publishing a volume of verse,” wrote Don Marquis, “is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo.”
Of course, it’s not just poets who know the deep silence that greets most new creative work. One of my fondest literary memories is of arriving at a bookshop to promote a novel I’d written and finding an audience of exactly four elderly ladies. A local radio person introduced me, and explained to the foursome that my book was “probably not something most people will enjoy unless they like hard books”. Two of the ladies immediately apologised and said they weren’t there for me but were just resting on the chairs. Such is the local literary life.In South Africa, however, Marquis’s Grand Canyon extends beyond poets and novelists to a third group of masochistic melancholics: filmmakers.
This weekend, as hundreds of thousands of South Africans flock to cinemas to watch Marvel’s record-breaking blockbuster, Superheroes: Actors Punching People In Motion-Capture Suits!, this small band of hopeless romantics will be sitting at home, alone, a blanket of their knees, weeping softly into a ball of soggy tissue. And it is to them that I dedicate this column.
Filmmakers of South Africa, I am with you during this difficult time, which, in your case, has coincided with pretty much your whole career.You are not alone, unlike that time you went to the 8pm screening of your movie to see how the crowd liked it. You are loved and supported. OK, not by the industry, or the fans, or the state’s arts and culture boards. But know that you are valued. Not in monetary terms, obviously, but … OK, this isn’t coming out like I hoped. Just know that I’m sending thoughts and prayers as Aggregators: Infinity Money makes in 18 seconds what took you 18 years to collect by crowd-funding and organ-selling.
One day, South Africans will stop pretending that we support local culture and just be honest with ourselves. One day we will admit, openly, that we live in a cultural colony of the United States, and that Sony and Marvel could just dress a turd in a tiny lycra sheath and call it Super-Pooper Versus The Pooper-Scooper and it would still make 10 times more than the best South African films.On that day, you can stand proud that you covered your production budget and paid your actors and even got nominated for an award, because doing any of that in this distant, southern province of Hollywood is an act of supreme courage and defiance. It is cultural heroism of the highest order.
But until that day, I am at your side. Which is weird, because the whole cinema was open so I’m not sure why the ticket person put me right next to you. But here we are.