OPINION | Nah, Trevor! Don't use us for a laugh

Please, dude. Don't use us to make yourself look good in front of your American friends

15 May 2019 - 10:00
Trevor Noah got tongues wagging for his comments on EFF leader Julius Malema.
Trevor Noah got tongues wagging for his comments on EFF leader Julius Malema.
Image: Reuters

Trevor Noah is without a doubt one of Mzansi's finest exports. He is loved around the world but perhaps nowhere more than in his home country. It's all love, as millions of us watch his show and recite his jokes, but sadly sometimes we find ourselves in an abusive relationship where we are the ones that are picked on to try score points with someone else.

We all like a good Trevor Noah joke, but late last week South Africans had to swallow hard when he used a segment about the SA elections to turn it into a session on EFF leader Julius Malema and the state of the country.

As someone who hardly misses an episode of Trevor's The Daily Show I knew from the moment he mentioned the SA elections that it would be lit.

I also knew that Trevor doesn't hold back on SA leaders, slamming ousted president Jacob Zuma more than a handful of times and name-dropping Malema more than a blesser drops coins at a nightclub. 

In the segment, Trevor spoke about the elections and the issues South Africa faces.

While it started off well, it slowly got more awkward to watch him until it was like seeing your drunk uncle spew profanities at a larney dinner party to try make friends.

Trevor mocked the #FeesMustFall protests and then shared a clip that made it seem as if South Africans were xenophobic and anti-immigrants.

He then changed gears and made reference to several moments from Malema’s political career.

"SA also has a popular anti-establishment politician in this election. His name is Julius Malema and if you think Trump is bad, wait until you see how Julius treats the media," Trevor said with a grin.

A segment about Malema vs the press soon made way for a clip from an interview where Malema spoke about killing white people.

All the while, Trevor was laughing and smiling. He was having the time of his life while the audience hosed themselves.

There is already a skewed view of SA, after Trump tweeted last year that he had asked his Secretary of State to "closely study the SA land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large-scale killing of farmers." 

So to play on the thorny conversations of "white genocide" and xenophobia was not only cheap and lazy but also clickbait at its best.

Whether you support the EFF or you think they are a fascist state in waiting, you are familiar with Malema and his brand of politics. You probably even know most of the clips Trevor's team used.

But regardless of what you think of Malema or the state of the country, it was really sad that in an attempt at reassuring Americans that at least they don't have it as bad as South Africans, Trevor came across as ill-informed and misleading.

The matter was made worse when you realise that the clips were often missing context and packaged to cause as much alarm as a classic Malema speech.

I expected more from a man who once told eNCA's Jeremy Maggs that he felt more comfortable talking about SA politics because he knows "every single piece of information and is well-versed in everything".

"In the United States, I am very careful to not speak out of turn because I see many people do it, even in the US. People who are not fully informed," Trevor said, before calling out Donald Trump for weighing in on issues he had little information about.

How sad it was then to see Trevor keep his fans around the world ignorant by feeding them with only small bits of information about the important issues he is weighing in on.

Next time, Trevor, just leave us out of it. Don't pretend that you are going to educate the world about South Africa and then mock us.

You are an ambassador for South Africa whether you like it or not and you need to do better than take advantage of that position to keep up ratings.


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