Directed by Sara Blecher – starring Senzo Meyiwa, Kelly Khumalo, Robert Marawa and Gerrie Nel (running time: 3 ½ hrs).
Even though I consider myself to be a hardened cinephile – one who will sit through even the worst d-grade movie/series/documentary/porno all the way to the finishing line – this series really tested my proper loyalty to celluloid. And, I am not really sure, whether I know anything more now about Senzo and his crew after having watched it.
In a way, Senzo’s meteoric rise to sports-super-stardom typifies the trajectory of all super-talented-humble-background-descended individuals, whether in music, sports, cinema, or in entertainment, who fly so very high in a short space of time, but then simply cannot hold the plane steady at such high altitudes; only for the plane to go into an irreversible nose-dive – after hitting pretty average turbulence – and then hit the ground in a fireball explosion composed of high velocity metal, flesh, blood, oil, jet-fuel, bone, teeth, brake fluid, pressurised air, pulverised intestines and internal organs.
My late father prophetically used to say: “give a poor man a million bucks, and he’ll be broke in a week. Give a rich man a million bucks, and he’ll not only show you a return, but will also keep the capital safe and intact”.
The problem with fame is generally the hangers-on entering stage left like an unchecked venereal disease; the loss of essential self in this revolutionary new world surfeit of expensive lifestyle, multi-million Rand toys, gadgets and poor choices. This is a story as old as time itself.
You can blame social media, legacy media and the internet all you want – for fuelling morbid fascination into Senzo’s murder. However, this media collectively mops up the emptiness within individuals and the absence of meaning that drives people to be fascinated by the gory details – a chronic rubber-necking loop – to use a highway carnage metaphor.
And this is exactly why people love celebrity gossip and scandal – because the only time their vacuous lives actually mean something is when the richer, better looking, way more successful god of the screen or sports-field is brought right down to earth with a thump. Then the individual finally feels a sense of equality and their unbearable existence has some meaning. It’s a malevolent psychopathology. A wholesale mental illness.
However, I am not here to give a psychological diagnosis, but to review a Netflix TV series.
Netflix throws its content net very wide, and its simple business model is: if you churn out enough content, then subscribers, no matter how diverse they might be in taste, location and social class, will have something to watch. For me, this is a conveyor belt approach to art. Like the Johnny Depp // Amber Heard trial, which descended into chaos of low-grade allegations of animalistic behaviour between two white-trash-done-good individuals. I really draw the line at shitting in a bed as having any artistic value.
Likewise, I found this Senzo production to be disjointed and incoherent, like a newly qualified lawyer who is all-over-the-place in a Court trial, where the lawyer is in over his/her head, and who misguidedly believes that it’s all about quantity, and not quality.
Director Sara Blecher could have edited out at least 75% of the content and not lost anything in the story’s cinematic arc; where she has tried to make a stylised TV series and fails, which series lacks any grittiness and simply does not address the authentic human being behind the Senzo legend.
The Meyiwa family member interviews added nothing really; alleged diabolical mastermind Kelly Khumalo comes out as a nutter – which she might well be – but again, we learn nothing more about her really. SAPS is shown up as a bunch of incompetent schmucks – again nothing new. Gerrie Nel and AfriForum’s involvement in the case as the private prosecution team to me looked like Hamas having a Passover meal with Mossad agents and smiling for the camera, only to go backstage with suicidal and murderous acid-reflux and summarily kill each other off-set.
Eight years later, the case is still nowhere further, and now the new sideshow is of apparently unhinged Advocate Teffo accusing the presiding trial Judge Tshifhiwa Maumela of using muti against him. F*ck me George.
My final analysis – cancel your Netflix subscription and forget about the series – even if you have 3 ½ hours to kill; don’t worry about SAPS or Teffo, or muti, or the Judge. You will know nothing more about the case after having watched the series, or the eNCA real-time court case reportage.
RIP Senzo Meyiwa – you were a true South African soccer legend with a beautiful smile; when you had gotten out of the goal box at full-time after a spectacular performance, you should have gone straight home to a farm-girl type woman and stayed away from these scumbag city slickers.