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Material Culture could be depicting Izikhothane better

2019-09-29 00:01

When you think of Izikhothane, you probably picture flamboyant youngsters wearing luxurious garments and dancing to prove their wealth, but Phumlani S Langa discovers there’s substance behind the style when the guys are away from the spotlight.

Material Culture
Mzansi Wethu (DStv channel 163)
Saturday, 7.30pm
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The skhothane lifestyle is a fascinating local subculture that splintered off from movements such as pantsula.

However, it has been met with resistance from those not affiliated to it because its loud approach to life, expensive clothing and lust for wealth are anything but subtle.

It seems hedonistic and self-involved, but Mzansi Wethu’s Material Culture, which follows the members of the Material Culture crew as they seek to expand their reach and represent their style in more artistic ways, proves that there is creativity at play within the ranks of this movement.

The show Material Culture is set in the townships that gave rise to this subculture and uses a reality show formula.

Unfortunately for the viewer, the format is tough to put up with, especially because the show is dealing with real people. Some of the dialogue and situations seem to have been imposed on the crew for the sake of TV theatrics.

I enjoyed watching the effects the members of this clique have on the people around them, such as the reactions they get when they pull up in a Toyota Quantam with House music thumping, and then take to the blacktop at a garage to bust a few moves. Even when the crew goes to Durban, the shock on the faces of onlookers is priceless.

The crew’s mutinous energy is invigorating. Some of the best bits are provided by two of the funnier members, Qwesta Kufet and Jacob, who have gone into business selling scones near a Rea Vaya bus station and outside a primary school to make some extra cash.

Jacob finds it embarrassing and he’s lethargic on the job, which sets Qwesta off.

The crew is looking to establish itself as a creative posse that can shoot videos, create music and even organise an event, but the strongest facet of the formula is the fashion. I hadn’t realised dudes are rocking cycling shirts now, which is fairly cool, and Material Culture’s take on formal attire is something I could get down with in some cases.

From a production standpoint, I feel let down by LeburuGraphy Pictures and how it went about creating this show.

On a technical level, the colour grading of the video footage and the lighting is bad, and, for the most part, the shots are uninspired. In terms of content, and if we’re being honest with ourselves, these guys are just normal fellas from the hood.

Their lives beyond the vibrant subculture are quite regular.

On one hand, someone might watch this and see in these guys their own struggle to establish themselves financially in this country.

On the other, you may get someone who feels that what these homies are going through is no different from their own group of friends, so they may not feel inclined to watch.

It doesn’t bring any new truths to light and an entire episode can be painful.

The intro sequence threw me off as it shows this crew sitting at a long table having a banquet, which invokes the image of The Last Supper. This looks clean and as fly as some of the things these cats wear, but the show is mad dry.

Even with a few famous cameos from people such as House deejay Mobi Dixon and actress Khanyi Mbau, it’s boring.

However, it is heart-warming to see these guys hustling as hard as they do to grow this movement, but I am not pleased about how their story is being told. LeburuGraphy Pictures needs to do better.

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October 13 2019