It’s difficult to find anyone who’s seen the DA’s big reveal video this week who has anything good to say about it. At best, it’s socially distant and Covid compliant. At worst, you can make your mind up.
Party leader John Steenhuisen speaks directly to the camera flanked by a phalanx of DA T-shirt-wearing flag wearers. There’s more joy and passion in a North Korean gymnastrada troupe.
Steenhuisen, who has been much maligned for his humble matric while achieving far more than his cosplaying degreed peers – some even with PhDs – in the National Assembly, is appealing for South Africans to join the party at a virtual rally a fortnight from today.
He identifies all the issues. He makes all the right noises – earnestly. He’s certainly not far off when he says a virtual rally has never been seen before in South Africa. There’s a good reason for that despite it being precisely what the PS5 playing strategy geeks in his party would come up with.
There is going to be no regime change on a Zoom call, with an unstable internet connection and everyone behaving as if it was a 21st century séance as they try to connect. The physical ballot box is the better option.
On 22 May, the DA will host an event never before seen in SA.
Thousands across the country will get together virtually and pledge their support for change at the #TimeForChangeRally.
— Democratic Alliance (@Our_DA) May 3, 2021
As the inimitable Richard Poplak noted: “I’m starting to think that if the ANC nuclear-bombed every major city in South Africa and drove through the ashes in Rolls-Royce SUVs while sipping Moët, the DA would still f*** up the counter messaging.” The twitterverse had a field day. Someone even brilliantly parodied the video as a funeral policy advertisement.
Another South African who unwittingly became a meme is Leo Prinsloo, the security guard caught on dashcam trying to avoid being rammed and run off the road – and shot at – while he was riding shotgun on a high-value consignment of cellphones in the vehicle ahead of him.
Prinsloo found himself playing off against cinematic hard man Liam Neeson in a parody of the Taken franchise – except this time Neeson puts the phone down. Explaining himself afterwards, the former Police Special Task Force veteran said he had “pre-visualised” the attack, planning what he would do if it did happen.
He “pre-visualised” it alright. The video has gone viral. It’s been watched in Australia and New Zealand, made British headlines and been flighted by cable giant CNN. You can’t buy that kind of marketing – and Prinsloo wasn’t even selling himself, he was just doing his job. It didn’t even cost anything, just a cheap dashcam and nature, South African style, did the rest.
As for Steenhuisen, he must be ruing his foray into the world of influencers and vloggers. His marketing team must be holding their thumbs, and their breath, that someone doesn’t remix President Cyril Ramaphosa’s famous “Shut up you, Steenhuisen”, as an overdub.
Someone should have “pre-visualised” that. Instead, they’re offering another glorified Zoom call on a Saturday, when all most of us want to do is light the braai and crack the first beer.
Maybe a funeral ad might have had more traction.
* Kevin Ritchie is a media consultant. He is a former journalist and newspaper editor.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media and IOL.