The outrageous DA advert

“You’re on social media, 6000. Aren’t you outraged?”

I am getting a lot of people asking if I am upset over the DA TV advert which in which they – and I hope you’re sitting down for this – depicted the SA flag being burned.

Well, they actually depicted a poorly-done CGI SA flag being burned.
But same same, right?

Here’s the ad. I hope you’re ready.

Well, no. I’m not outraged, and I’m not outraged for many reasons.

First off, I don’t tend to get outraged about things anymore. You get to a stage in life when you realise that the energy you spend on being outraged is completely wasted. And the earlier you reach that stage in your life, the happier you will be. Sure, get irritated, annoyed, maybe even tinker with being briefly furious. But then drop it. Because expending more effort than that – especially publicly – on something you can’t change, makes you look like a buffoon.
So much bluster, so little outcome.

Of course, it’s really easy to be outraged on social media, where we can all hide behind our profile pictures and pseudonyms and tell people how what they must think. But that’s even more pointless. Honestly, who is really going to listen to some nasty words formed from pixels?

And right there is the second reason. This isn’t a burning flag. It’s just some pixels. And if you’re willing to say that those pixels are the same thing as burning a real flag, then you should really be able to understand that the “burning flag” (pixels) here is merely a metaphor for the state of the country should the ANC go into a coalition with the EFF and the MK after the election.
Is it an accurate metaphor? I don’t know, but that’s actually immaterial. The DA feel that it’s an accurate way to describe the consequences of that alliance, and this is their advert. And whether or not the advert is accurate or crap is also immaterial. The outrage here isn’t over the words or the sentiment. It’s all about the “burning flag”.

What it has done is fanned the flames (no pun intended) of the electoral fire (no pun intended).
Has it influenced anyone either way? Probably very few. But probably also both ways.
If it was meant to get people to watch it, it’s worked.
If it was meant to rile the ANC, it’s also worked.

That statement by Zizi Kodwa, Minster for Sports, Arts and Culture, there.
You may recognise him from such news stories as:


But oh no… someone did a nasty thing to the flag. Well, some pixels that looked like the flag.

How convenient.

Thirdly(?), It’s interesting to note that while there are several laws pertaining to the illegality of corruption in public office, there doesn’t appear to be anything saying whether you can or can’t burn the flag (which the DA didn’t do, anyway).
Here’s Government Notice No. 510 of 8th June 2001 (Gazette no 22356) (catchy title, catchy contents):

Nothing about burning there, but if you’re all about following the guidelines regarding our national symbols, then don’t forget that national rugby favourite Bryan Habana was heavily and publicly involved with breaking 15(d) so let’s not get carried away here.

The fourth thing is that outrage on social media is hugely selective. Polarised along racial, political, national, sports team or whatever other lines. Any opportunity to bash the other side is gleefully taken. People readily jump onto the bandwagon: there is comfort in numbers and camaraderie. There is admiration to be earned in being one of the people that was outraged at this or that thing that happened. But outrage is often also hypocritical. I’ve seen 100x more posts and tweets from people upset with the “burning flag” ad than I have over the actual footage of a government minister driving past shacks in his Mercedes G-Wagon, throwing ANC t-shirts onto the floor for poor people to pick up.

But do a bit of editing with a video of a flame and a CGI flag in Microsoft Moviemaker and… ah Jesus…

Of course, above all else, we should always remember that social media is not real life.
Much as Jessica’s life isn’t one constant beach holiday, no matter what her Facebook feed might suggest, nor is anyone going to grab their torches and pitchforks and head to the DA HQ over this.

Well, I say that. They might, but if they do, much like the letter above, it will all be as a cunning stunt by one of the other allegedly outraged parties to try and score some points.

I guess what I am saying here is not to rush to be outraged by anything – especially in this election season. They’re absolutely out to get your emotions and people are falling for it every single time.
You have nothing tangible to gain, and so much energy and effort to lose.
Rather focus on the bigger picture and don’t be distracted.
Look at the facts, examine the manifestos, check out the track records and consider the alternatives.

But don’t lose sleep over some pixels in an advert. Really.