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Music, Culture and the Media

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Throughout history music has played a pivotal part in who we are. Through it different cultures and individuals find ways of expression and association. Music remains foremost in cultural expression. In addition to being indicative of the state and opinions of the collective, it is a deeply personal experience to the individual listener.

Afrikaans rockers Van Coke Kartel launched their latest album Skop, skiet & donner at the beginning of March. The spin-off from the controversial Afrikaans rock band Fokofpolisiekar has been a favourite among both Afrikaans and English speaking South African youth.

The band did well in creating hype around the new album through mediums like Facebook and Twitter. When the album was finally released to the media it sparked online discussions among South African journalists, which resulted in a race to publish the first review.

Within two days of the media release, a host of alternative music web pages had already reviewed the influential Afrikaans band – in English.

By writing Afrikaans songs, the band wittingly associates itself with Afrikaans-speaking South Africans. The band members are regarded as representatives of a minority group within the already small Afrikaans music scene (a role carried over from their association with Fokofpolisiekar). Although the band is popular among English speaking South African youth, its significance in Afrikaans culture is undeniable.

Considering the prominence of the band in Afrikaans culture, the Afrikaans media's seeming disinterest in the release is perplexing. The overwhelming response from Afrikaans fans eliminates the possibility that Afrikaans speaking South Africans aren't interested in the album (the band's Facebook fan page is testimony to this).

It could be that the Afrikaans media has removed itself from the so-called Belville Brothers following a Fokofpolisiekar blasphemy incident in 2008. If this is the case, it doesn't say much for objective reporting in Afrikaans media.

VCK fans might simply not be a target market for Afrikaans publications. This would be an understandable. Young, Afrikaans rockers don't generally spend their mornings reading Die Beeld newspaper. However, the media has a responsibility to report on all things relevant. Ignoring an influential band because its following doesn't purchase the publication raises questions about the purpose of the media.

The Afrikaans media's silence on the album could possibly be attributed to a lack of online Afrikaans news and entertainment websites and blogs. This bears investigation.

For a band to willingly reject a larger fan base in favour of producing music for a smaller Afrikaans market takes dedication. The band's relevance to and influence on the Afrikaans culture can't be ignored. Would it be too much to ask for a degree of enthusiasm from Afrikaans media?

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