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PR & Communication

We love American things! – Halloween and the role of SA media in local culture

This past weekend Americans celebrated Halloween as they do every year on the 31st of October.

While I always see pictures of their costumes on my timeline, I was surprised to see so many South Africans also wearing costumes. Since when do we take part in Halloween? I tweeted the tweet below because I was genuinely surprised that it seems like it is now becoming a thing in South Africa.

One of my friends Lee jokingly tweeted that soon we will be celebrating the 4th of July too – Independence Day in America and it made me wonder. Why is it that we love American things so much? The clothes we wear, the music we listen to and most recently, the way we speak. It is like we are constantly looking for ways to be closer to the Americans as if we do not have enough rich cultures in South Africa.

In a lecture a few weeks ago one of my lecturers pointed out that one of the reasons why America became what it is today is because of propaganda. They have had the mandate of selling “the American Dream” to the world and we are clearly buying into it as we have been doing over the years. The Oxford dictionary defines propaganda as:

[MASS NOUN] Information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a politicalcause or point of view.

And this definition proves very true in this scenario.

America has sold themselves to the rest of the world through action heroes such as Superman and Spiderman – their costumes have the same colours as the American flag – amongst others. These superheroes who do good and try to save the world have indirectly given the impression that everything American is good.

Local media has also further helped America sell their culture to us. You walk into a store and most of the magazines have international stars on their covers. Local gossip magazines have ‘international’ columns which really only feature Americans while I can bet money that American tabloids do not have such sections for celebrities from other parts of the world.

I understand that it is easier to subscribe to a culture of cool that already exists, especially considering that we are a generation of the new South Africa and creating our own culture is quite difficult. The media should take responsibility in showcasing South African culture as cool. Many individuals have tried through local apparel, music etc, but there is only so much that you can do when local media inundates the people that you are trying to reach with a message that is contrary to what you are trying to teach.

Did you dress up for Halloween? (I typed Halloween in lowercase and my PC – which is set to South African English – corrected it. It’s that deep.)

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Article written by:

Richmond Sajini is a musician and media entrepreneur in the public relations, television, radio and retail spaces in South Africa. He studied Public Relations and Communication at the University of Johannesburg and has worked on brands such as Coca Cola, Tsogo Sun, Heineken as well as the South African National Roads Agency. He has been told to shut up many times by people who don’t understand that he is in love with the sound of his own voice. For this reason he decided to start his own blog where he would share his thoughts and experiences without inhibition. Visit his blog, and follow him on Twitter @richmondsajini.


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