The men in our living room : masculinities and the struggle for a 'new' South African hegemony in 'Egoli: place of gold' 1994

Jonker, Francois (2015-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In this study I analyse the 1994 episodes of the popular soap opera Egoli: Place of Gold that coincide with the so-called ‘birth’ of the New South Africa. This moment in media history is characterised by a heightened sense of anticipation surrounding Egoli as the first local soap opera created by Franz Marx at the pinnacle of his career for the relatively new – and only – independent broadcaster in the country, M-Net. Because of the reliance of this genre on perceived realism, Egoli offers a historically significant televisual mediation of the widespread social and political changes that mark this particular period. I argue that the soap opera elicits a non-critical passive spectatorship and should therefore be regarded as a ‘readerly’ medium that transmits a form of pre-negotiated textual hegemony directly into the intimacy of the domestic viewing space. While acknowledging an awareness of the pivotal role played by white Afrikaans men in the safeguarding of cultural hegemony up until this historical juncture, my study diverges from the wealth of research on soap opera as a women’s medium and approaches Egoli with an interest in the programme’s construction of masculinities. An analysis of three contrasting male characters investigates Egoli’s formulation of a social matrix that reflects not only the programme’s attitude towards gender, but also to social power, class and race. I conclude that this specific soap opera lacks the ability to produce or reflect radical change. Egoli merely serves to reiterate the affirmation of the hegemony of an established order of Afrikaner patriarchy on a superficial level.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In hierdie studie analiseer ek die 1994 episodes van die populêre sepie Egoli: Plek van Goud wat afspeel tydens die sogenaamde ‘geboorte’ van die Nuwe Suid-Afrika. Hierdie oomblik in media-geskiedenis is gekarakteriseer deur ‘n verhoogde gevoel van antisipasie rondom Egoli as die eerste plaaslike sepie, vervaardig deur Franz Marx tydens die toppunt van sy loopbaansukses vir die relatief nuwe, en enigste onafhanklike uitsaaidiens in die land, M-Net. Vanweë hierdie medium se afhanklikheid op skynbare realisme, bied Egoli ‘n waardevolle historiese televisuele vertolking van die verrykende sosiale en politiese veranderinge van hierdie tydperk. Ek argumenteer dat die sepie ‘n passiewe kritiekloosheid in kykers uitlok en daarom as ‘n ‘leeslike’ teks benader moet word, wat ‘n reeds-onderhandelde hegemonie direk in die intimiteit van die huishouding oordra. As gevolg van die bewustheid van die kritieke rol wat deur blanke Afrikaanse mans vervul is in die beveiliging van kulturele hegemonie tot en met hierdie historiese moment, wyk my studie af van die veelvuldige navorsing oor die sepie as ‘n vroue-medium en benader ek Egoli met ‘n fokus op die konstruering van manlikheid. ‘n Analise van drie kontrasterende manlike karakters ondersoek Egoli se formulering van ‘n sosiale matriks wat nie alleenlik die program se benadering tot geslag blootlê nie, maar so ook tot sosiale mag, klas en ras. Ek sluit af met die bevinding dat dié sepie ontbreek in die vermoë om radikale verandering aan te spoor of te weerspieël. Egoli slaag slegs daarin om op ‘n oppervlakkige wyse die hegemonie van ‘n gevestigde Afrikaner patriargale orde te bevestig en te reproduseer.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/96873
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