Tag Archives: media

This World

Some people have said it’s a scary time to be Muslim right now, for obvious reasons. And I don’t know about that so much, but I do think it is a scary time to be human. It’s a scary time to drive on the road or stop at a traffic light; it’s scary to be in your house, even with burglar bars; it’s scary to walk into a corner shop or even in the mall; it’s scary to even watch the news.

The world is a scary place.

Yesterday, I watched a video of a young boy, 13 years old, being thrown around and kicked and stripped naked by prison guards in a prison in Australia. It crushed me. It angered and infuriated and enraged me. I couldn’t do anything to fix it. Today I saw a video of a small, tiny baby, not more than a couple weeks old, being wildly swooshed around in a bucket of water, held by the arms. Crying painfully. And I cried. Painfully. Real tears. I was writhing in my seat and couldn’t stand the aching that video caused me. It aches now recalling it. I was screaming silently at my screen while I watched. And I was angry that I even saw it at all — what good did sharing the video do? Does it stop the abuse? We don’t even see the identities of the women, so what can be done?? Why did you share it if nothing can be done about it?! I didn’t need to see it!

All I wanted to do was grab the baby away from that woman, and hold him/her in my arms soothingly. But of course I couldn’t. Again, I couldn’t do anything to fix it.

Perhaps I am a weakling for reacting this way. Perhaps someone else might not have been as pained by those scenes and would laugh at my reaction. I can actually think of at least one person who would laugh at my reaction and think I’m a silly girl. Perhaps I am a silly girl. (I know many more people who would agree with that statement. Even I do.) But I never want to be a silly girl who is okay with children being treated badly. I never want to be a silly girl who feels relieved because “at least it’s not my child”. My goodness, when is it ever okay for any child to scream and cry because of the violence and cruelty of an adult?

I feel deeply pained right now because of all the violence and bad stuff going on everywhere. And I truly, deeply hate to add to it. I hate that this post is so sad and dark. But when it hurts I write. And I cry. I just don’t always share it with everyone on my blog. But this I felt like sharing. Because it’s a pain I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling.

BeFunky Collage.jpg

I wrote this earlier, after the crying subsided. It doesn’t have a title yet. It’s just words that spewed forth that I really hope makes some sense.

Words That Spewed Forth That I Really Hope Makes Some Sense

by Ruqaiyah Davids

The world is a cruel and scary place.
I don’t know where to escape.
How do I get away from all this hate?
It doesn’t seem to abate.
But I know it’s not too late.

And I don’t mean to sound fake and to further saturate this debate
With candy floss and rainbows after every time the rain flows.
These words are not meant to gloss over all that is wrong with this place and the human race.
Violence and hatred have become commonplace.
I know.
It’s quite a disgrace.
But I do believe that we only need to educate –
One another and ourselves.
Then we can alienate those who seek to create
All these people who have become irate,
Causing them to deviate,
Fighting for what they think is right.
And those who only propagate hate.
And those who only separate.
And those who leave children, betrayed
By the very people who should be a source of shade.

This world has worked hard to make me jaded;
Tired and weary –
This world is scary.
Many days I can’t stand the evil of it all.
But I am an optimist.
Try as the world might, it hasn’t given my spirit fright.
But, still, I don’t look at the world through rose-coloured glasses.
I’ve sat through enough of the world’s classes
Of chaos, mayhem, and fear.
My eyes are clear;
I see the evil that is here.
But these darn hues of pink and red won’t leave me alone.
My spirit is prone to the light in this world
Which it has over and over been shown.
But my optimism can sometimes feel like my prison
As my soul feels that sickeningly familiar rhythm
Of a child’s cry,
While people die,
And a nation occupies.

My optimism can be a prison of pain and heartbreak.
Each time the world shows me its colour of evil my heart quakes.
I have a difficult time believing it’s real.
My optimism builds up a defence.
It tells me all the murder, ignorance, blood, hate, child abuse is just a pretence.
A pretence for what?
I don’t know.
But the core of me needs to believe it’s just a show.
Even though I know.
I know.

See, I call myself an optimistic-realist.
I read the news and know that the truth is always skewed.
But my optimism keeps the depression subdued.
It keeps the tears from flowing so much
That I lose touch with all the goodness God has given.
There is so much good,
There is so much love,
There is so much kindness.
The darkness here cannot lead to my blindness.
I am compelled to believe that He Sees.
I cannot deny that with hardship comes ease.
But what acts are these?!
Stripping small boys in a prison naked?
Turning a whole nation of people into the most hated?
Why are we not more devastated?
Starvation and malnutrition are circulated!
And then we are placated
While we become vegetated
Through the media, fashion, films, games…
Don’t be fooled – it is all calculated.

Blog sign-off


Nothing is Original: How the Media Constructs our Consensus

Is any thought or opinion we have about the world truly our own?

The world is such an enormously huge space, and yet, it’s not really that ‘enormous’ anymore. Things that happen in places as far as Japan, America or Libya are reported to us within hours, or minutes, of its happening, without us ever truly being witness to it ourselves. We never see the fighting and killing that happen in Palestine, except for what is shown to us on our television screens; we didn’t see the bombings that happened in America on September 11, 2001 — except for the images that were played and replayed for us on our television screens. Most times, all we ever see of the world outside of our tiny South African ‘world’, is shown to us through the media, whether it be the news channels on TV, news websites on the internet or the old-fashioned newspapers. The fact remains, we didn’t see it ourselves. One may argue, however, that seeing the events on TV, in which case a news reporter or video man is witness to it in real-time, and we are, therefore, witnessing the events vicariously through them, that this then counts as us witnessing it for ourselves too. No, it does not. What we see of what is happening in Egypt or China while we are sitting on our couches, in our living room, in our home in Cape Town, is only what the news reporter/video man wants us to see, what they allow us to see. And the same applies for written news — they (the news reporters) only report what they deem worthy to be reported, and from their point of view. Hence, our opinion of any given news event that happens in the world is very likely not our own; rather, we are conditioned (to some degree) into a particular way of thinking and perceiving the world. In essence, our consensus with what the media tells us of the world is constructed by how they choose to tell the news to us: what type of language they use (i.e. what words they use), what type of images they use, etc. As bleak a view as this may be, and as much as many of us may want to deny it, we are conditioned to agree with what the media tells us. To some extent, yes, we do choose for ourselves what to believe, but is it ever truly void of what the media has allowed us to know?

Chuck Palahnuik writes in his novel, Invisible Monsters:

“Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everybody I’ve ever known.”

These words bear undeniable truth, and it extends further than just the people we’ve met in our lives; it reaches to the news channels we have dinner with, and the newspapers and news websites we rendezvous with throughout our day.

Looking at an article which appeared on the IOL website on The Sunday Independent page, I hate myself and my mouth, says Scott, which is a report about former Jacaranda 94.2 radio DJ and SuperSport rugby commentator, Darren Scott, who made a racist remark to his black colleague, calling him the k-word. Subsequently, Scott resigned from the radio station and was fired from the SuperSport channel. In the afore-mentioned article, the media attempts to construct our opinion of Scott from the get-go by using a self-deprecating quote from Scott himself as the title of the article. Through this, we are already told that Scott regrets his words and that he is not proud of himself, which suggests that readers should sympathise with him, rather than hold him to trial. The entire article is basically a sum-up of Scott’s side of the story, an opportunity given to him by the media to  state his case, so that he isn’t just painted as the ‘white, closet racist who just got exposed’, as many other media have done. So, bearing in mind that this seems to be the primary aim of this article, it is noticed that the larger part of the article is made up of Scott’s comments about the incident. He says things like:

  • I don’t think I’ve ever had a day when I’ve disliked myself as I do now.
  • “I’ve got to seriously think if there’s something inside me that harbours some form of racism…”
  • I don’t like myself for saying it.
  • “…my own stupidity
  • I just want to get to a point where I feel better about myself.
  • This has been incredibly difficult.”

Scott is depicted as a man at war with himself, a man who is his own judge, so that others wouldn’t have to be. We see Scott as an innocent, normal person (as opposed to the guilty, ‘not normal’ racist he has been depicted to be) just having a bad day, as the writer says, “Scott rubs his face and eyes and sips strong coffee.” And we are told of the difficulty that Scott is enduring through all of this, with the writer’s very evidently biased comment: “He looks tired and the strain is evident.” There is little room left by the writer for the reader to have any animosity against Scott, the reader has little other choice than to feel sorry for him. This is further emphasised by the repetitive statement of apology, with the writer saying at two separate points in the article that Scott “apologised“, and that “Scott knows he messed up“, as though he is a child who has been caught doing something naughty and is being reprimanded, and in an attempt to lighten his punishment, he admits his error, in the hope to soften up the one who will punish him, which in Scott’s case is the entire South African community. Whether this attempt has worked on the article’s readership is unknown to me, but to speak for myself, I am honestly unsure of whether to feel sorry for him or not, because the very first media that had reached me of this particular incident was of a nature in total contradiction to the one that I cite here. The first media response to Scott’s ‘racist’ comment was a radio talk show that had immediately, without sympathy, condemned him as a racist. So this, too, has played its part in constructing my opinion of the news, and, as a consequence, I have two warring views about the same incident, and my mind doesn’t know which one to allow to ‘brainwash’ it.

So, with all that being said, we see that there is little that we think of the world today, little that we know of the world, that is not influenced by the media. The influence of the media is far-reaching, and try as we might, if we read newspapers and watch news channels, there is little that we can do but accept what they tell us. We can argue and debate various news topics, disagreeing with certain media’s views about various topics, but ultimately, our disagreement of it is also only a result of an opinion or belief that was shaped by some other form of the media.