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Thu Apr 24 11:51:06 SAST 2014

Crude ostentation now all the rage in the new, bling SA

The Editor, The Times Newspaper | 31 January, 2011 22:560 Comments
Colourful tycoon and sushi fan Kenny Kunene eats sushi off a model at his new club, ZAR Cape Town, at the Waterfront Studios.

The Times Editorial: It is quite reasonable that many readers of The Times found yesterday's front page picture objectionable. It was, indeed, an objectionable photograph - and that is primarily why we published it.

Perhaps we should have been more explicit yesterday about our reasons for publishing such a lurid depiction of such grossly conspicuous consumption.

For this is indeed what it symbolises on one level - a blatant disregard for decency, for a value system that does not seek to denigrate women and objectify their bodies.

The fact that this is the second time that businessman Kenny Kunene has "performed" his sushi-eating feat says much about his tendency to use cheap shock tactics.

It also speaks of a crass, blatant disrespect for women - which is clearly shared by ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, who took centre-stage at the Cape Town event.

Malema's association with this tacky showman - in opposition to the ANC's much-admired and much-vaunted commitment to women's rights and gender equality - contradicts his party's position.

These men worship at the altar of naked materialism, at which bling, veneer and avarice have replaced "old-fashioned" values.

Moreover, there is an uncomfortable element of racism in the picture - the near-naked white woman draped over a car surrounded by black gawkers. Quite frankly, the bystanders are as shameful as Kunene.

Too often, we - as a society - shy away from outright criticism of this kind of behaviour.

Almost 17 years into democracy and we have been cowed into silence - afraid that we will be told that we are envious losers who wish we could wear bling and buy whomever we want.

Kenny Kunene should not be allowed to become the poster-boy of achievement in the new South Africa. And if we allow him to, it will be at our own peril.

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Crude ostentation now all the rage in the new, bling SA

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