Written by Ismail Dhorat
The South African Democratic Alliance Students Organisation (DASO) recently released a controversial poster as part of their anti-racism campaign. The “In OUR future, you wouldn’t look twice” poster shows a naked mixed-race couple embracing.
The poster has caused a huge stir on Facebook, Twitter and blogs and even generated viral spoof posters. Here are some of online reactions on this.
If you take the time to read through the Facebook comments, the way South Africans respond differently to the same image is quite interesting.
We can roughly divide the response into four categories:
1. It’s cheesy and belongs in the 90s
2. Its simplistic portrayal of race relations is offensive
3. It’s beautiful, we need more of this
4. It’s repulsive, you’ve lost my vote
Jacques Rousseau at synapses says:
That’s what this poster does. It simply highlights the fact that some people would look twice at an inter-racial couple, and reminds viewers of the poster that in the ideal DASO future, this wouldn’t happen.
Baas De Beer notes:
Such a campaign will never be without criticism. The majority being that it’s immoral, overtly sexual and sends out conflicting messages to the youth. To this I just have to say: Wake up, welcome to the year 2012. There are more risqué ads that promote tampons, chocolates and cameras. It does not in any way promote sexual promiscuity (who said these two aren’t married (The CDP complained about this)). The only message this one conflicts with, is the message of hate and separation that white and black adults who are still stuck in the stone-age preach to their kids.
Regarding the statement it made, I personally respect it and think it’s about time that someone said it. Wouldn’t this world be a better place to live in if people stopped finding fault in others’ lives simply because they are too scared to face their own demons? Wouldn’t this planet be more enjoyable if society didn’t exclude, but include? If race, culture, sex and religion were not used as weapons? You are allowed to have your own opinion, but that’s just it: YOUR opinion. If you don’t like interracial relationships, THEN DON’T BE IN ONE. Easy, neh?
Slicktiger takes a tongue in cheek approach:
Anyway, the DASO okes are on a whole OTHER LEVEL for putting this charna on their political poster and addressing a CRUCIAL ISSUE in South African society of NOT ENOUGH OKES WHO LIKE TO KLAP IT IN POLITICS.
Jaqamba takes a critical look at DASO:
In my opinion, the posters are an embarrassment to DASO and its membership. They are neither controversial, nor can they serve as a proper yardstick to judge SA’s racial relations. In any society, however integrated it may claim to be, there will be conservatives and fundamentalists. In a similar fashion, there are South Africans (black and white) who strongly hold on to their pre-democratic or apartheid-era views about race and racial morality. However, since there are no laws preventing racial integration or promoting racial purity, the issue is moot and debating it will serve no meaningful purpose to the South African society. For an allegedly progressive lot, DASO seems to be chewing on dry bubble-gum.
Rosealix at 10and5 says:
While some are staunchly for the idea, others are sure the DA is accusing today’s South Africans of being racist and while some conservatives are appalled at the nudity, others have been asking if there’ll be any gay loving in the next of the series. Some are calling it a stereotype and some are calling it irrelevant to the times and for all those aghast at the standard of creative work, others are wondering what all the fuss is about.
Mafedi Selepe observes:
With the sentiments of DASO probably been of Nobel intentions, we can’t see past the misconception from incorrect reasoning that is the poster. To me as I sat and disgruntled the poster and used the same method that I was taught at the bourgeois school, I safely came to the conclusion that DASO was trying to tell us that we can cohabit only if we are prepared to say the white man is superior than the black, thus perpetuating but carefully tweaking the architect of Hendrick Verwoerd of a neighborly society that knows and embraces its indifferences to allow the half baked rainbow nation that was only but a dream for the Mandelas, the Sisulus and the heroes and heroines et al.
AKanyangaafrica identifies what the controversial poster has achieved:
The Ads would, unfortunately, make you want to love South Africans even more, if you never did. Even social networks were buzzing, with many accusing the party of claiming to be non-racist when it in fact is. Although the views were diverse across racial line – but one could get a sense that many black people were angrier than whites as, to them, DA was far from being the non-racial opposition party it claimed to be.”
“DA may not have achieved one of the objectives it intended to (of portraying itself as a non-racial party) but it managed to get South Africans debating the thorny and controversial race issue, and at the same time exposing our racist tendencies. To Sarah Britten the posters meant we would find them unusual or offensive, thereby implying we are “excessively aware of race” which would then require our re-education “in the principles of non-racialism by the DA” (my emphasis).
Tsholo describes what people see when looking at the poster:
Focusing on someone race can never stamp out racism, I think. At the end of the day, because the poster is ABOUT race, when you look at the poster you see a BLACK girl and a WHITE guy, not just a couple.
However, SihleMthembu believes the campaign was a success:
Personally, I think all of u are getting emo (emotional) about nothing, lol. Whether it was black guy and a white chick or not, it would have still sent the same message. I think this campaign is success in the sense that it has people talking. I think the idea is about crossing racial boundaries….and my guess is the ones finding it very hard to accept this campaign for what it is are individuals who are still not comfortable with inter-racial relationships.
Below are some of the responses on Twitter:
@wildebees: If a UK political party’s youth wing got this amount of debate going on Twitter they’d be hailed as pure genius #DASO
@joshjordaan: I’ve just heard that yesterdays #DASO poster was on SkyNews this morning! International!
@ryguy_smith: How does one go about finding the man posing on the recent #DASO homosexual poster? Also, who has a wedding dress to lend me?
@simphiwedana: If you want to tackle race, address the issue of white privilege. Like the people of Duluth are doing #DASO
@thealexparker: Yawn. #DASO poster so very JCR. Does have the benefit of pissing off the right people, mind you.”
@OliverHermanus: As someone in an interracial relationship I don’t look twice & folk don’t look twice at me. Its relevant, but isn’t the future bigger? #DASO
@scrookson: The DASO poster is obviously designed to be controversial. Attention seeking because the DA needs it?”
This post first appeared on the site of our partner Global Voices.
PHOTO: Screen capture