The Bang Bang Club …

Kennith’s company has a Culture Club.

I know I also thought of Boy George and the “Karma Chameleon” song when I first heard the term “culture club.”

But Kennith’s place of employment actually have people who are spend time trying to invest some culture into those who might not have any.  Good company that.

Last week they invited us (and the other few hundred employees and partners) to a screening of The Bang Bang Club at V&A.

I have been interested in seeing the movie as I heard a review by Barry Ronge, and it peaked my interest.

I knew a tiny bit (slither) of what the move was about, but really I knew nothing in a practical sense.

It was a fantastic frkn movie!

In short – and I am so plagiarizing the short version from here is “The Bang Bang Club is the true story of four young combat photographers bonded by friendship and their sense of purpose to tell the truth. They risk their lives and use their cameras to tell the world of the violence associated with the first free elections in post-Apartheid South Africa. Ryan Phillippe, Malin Akerman and Taylor Kitsch star in a film that explores the thrills, danger, and moral questions associated with exposing the truth.”

I really do not want to get into a huge debate as whether this is a great movie for the masses, so I will purely comment on what I saw and what I experienced.

The film was gripping from the get go.

One or two of the South African’s accents were a bit off, but I was willing to “let that go” for the overall story, and soon stopped hearing the “incorrect accents” as the story took me along.

I watched a part of history unfolding on the screen that I was either too stupid/too niave/too white/too suburban to realise was going on just a few kilometres down the road from were I was living my brown bread pre-sliced at Shoprite existence.

There were some horrific scenes that appear to be “every day life” if you were black, and living in the townships and it was before 1994.

The weight of what I saw and what appeared to be “real experiences” for everyday black folk disturbed me – maybe not because in 2011 I am not more aware, but maybe I was trying to avoid thinking about what went on in “those years.” (very much putting fingers in ears and go la-la-la when someone is telling you bad news).

I was absolutely horrified by the violence (which appeared senseless to me) that went on between ANC and IFP supporters on a daily basis (or maybe it was the movie being over dramatic).

People where being killed, tortured, set on fire, throwing themselves in front of live ammunition — and I am not always sure what the reasoning was.

Maybe I am/was ignorant beyond ignorant.

I am disturbed that I was seeing images that seemed to indicate our police/army seemed to take the ANC side and help them against the IFP.

<I had a very enlightening (eye opening) conversation with a guy in my office yesterday.  He was trying to explain the issues around the ANC and the IFP faction fighting and raised some really interesting things that I had not even thought about …..and did not “realise” were being played out in front of me, to this day>

The entire movie was so disturbing and so horrific and gritty and real, that it really made me feel quite ill.

Maybe it is because I am South African.

Maybe it is because I am white, and was there in that time when black youths were fighting while I was just puttering along to my lily-white government school singing “Die Stem” and happy to think Prime Minister Botha was as truthful and pure as the driven snow.

Not for a moment did I think it was odd that there were only white kids in my school – seemed totally reasonable at the time.

Maybe it was because I believed what ever the government told me.

Maybe it was because we never had a discussion ever at school/in my house about what was happening to black/non-white people and I feel embarrassed/shamed that I did not stand up in protest.

I seriously had no idea what the hell was going on.  (possibly the German folk used the same argument during the holocaust?)

Maybe it was that I was just to stupid/unawares to know what was really going on 20km down the road.

I saw the movie.

I can’t say I enjoyed the movie as I am sure I “blanched” in a few places and felt physically ill, but it was a good movie.  It was a memorable movie.  My attention did not waver or drift for a moment.

I was not comfortable watching the movie.  If you are hoping to go on a first date and then have sex after the move, this might not be THAT movie.

I was deeply effected.

I think South Africa has come a long way.

I think there are more South African truths that we as “white folk” do no know about.

I am not sure I have the stomach to know more “truth.”

<Flashback moment:  Lynsey MacLaren gave in “unprepared oral:” about the apartheid system and that it was a house that needed to be destroyed.  Not one brick at a time, but with a huge bulldozer.  I listened to her and thought she was some sort of ‘freak’ with the wild assumptions about what was going on and clearly did not really understand the situation.

Well, because clearly I could not “see” anything wrong with the present status quo.  I was okay with the fact that blacks did not pay tax so they could not vote, seemed seriously like a great system.  That entire concept (at the time) sat well with me.  It was 1989 and I was about as ignorant as what dog shit would. be if it lived alone and did not have the benefit of bacteria to educate it.  Lynsey’s little unprepared oral still rings in my head nearly two decades later, and at the time had a profound effect on me, if not immediate, it did as time rolled by ….. just saying.>

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  1. I absolutely cannot wait to see this movie. Partly because an acquaintance of mine was involved in the music – which is really cool – but also because I read most of the book. I got about 3/4 of the way through and just couldn’t anymore. I think the pregnancy hormones did not help at all.

    It left me cold. That tingly kind of cold where you realise that you’ve been lied to. Misled. Like a big chunk of your life was a sham. And I suppose it was. Our parents were ‘protecting’ us. Really we just needed protecting from ourselves.

    I get so worked up when people complain about ‘the state of the country’. They have no idea how lucky we are. 1994 could’ve been very different.

    Glad that you enjoyed it so much. Has built my anticipation even more!!

    • reluctantmom

       /  August 4, 2011

      It really is a good movie – not a fun movie.
      But I think a movie that will sit with you for a long time — and those are the best kind.


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