Yizo, Yizo: This is it? Representations and receptions of violence and gender relations.
Yizo Yizo, a South African drama series aired in 1999, received extraordinary positive and negative attention for its gritty depictions of township school life. The dissertation explores the relationship between the context, programme/text, the viewers/audiences, the content and the form of Yizo Yizo. Representations of violence and gender relations in Yizo Yizo are the primary concern of the dissertation. Contextual analysis is followed by an outline of the narrative needed to engage viewers' responses. This outline forms the basis for a discussion on representations of violence and gender relations, utilising textual and audience analysis to interrogate the nature of images. Concluding chapters connect issues of representation and reality, completing the critical circle introduced in the opening chapters through an analysis of the programme's title. Yizo Yizo is examined using a cultural studies approach, assessing "the relationship between texts -- representations that produce meanings--- and their contexts" (Tomaselli, 1989:38). The methodology employed to deconstruct representations of violence, gender relations and realism, follows recent work on 'facticity' and essentialism in African-American cultural production (Smith, 1992; Lubiano, 1997). In reference to depictions of violence and gender relations, the dissertation follows the established monographs of the British Broadcasting Standards Council (BSC), the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) of the United Kingdom, and the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) of South Africa (Gunter, 1986, 1987; Gunter & Wober, 1988; Cumberbatch & Howitt, 1989; Glanz 1994, respectively). Utilising textual and reception analysis, the study found Yizo Yizo's use of violence is substantiated through its dramatic intent. However, the drama fell short of exposing the 'myths' of township high schools. Thus, the viewer is left with dominant depictions of evil as responsible for the state of disequilibrium, leaving little room for an interrogation of the 'real' issues at Supatselo High. The series also side steps the historical context that impacts the present conditions of township learning. Moreover, the portrayal of female characters in the series perpetuates dominant patriarchal ideology by regurgitation myths and stereotypes. Research also highlighted the problem of viewing Yizo Yizo in an educational framework. The substantial drop in audience ratings for the final episode, which focused on a school that established or restored the 'culture of learning and teaching', indicates the series fell short of its educative potential. The series does not truly interrogate the socio-economic and political context of education in South Africa. Instead, the 'crisis' in education is paralleled with issues of delinquency rather than socio-economic inequalities of an educational system with a history tainted by the legacy of apartheid. A further finding indicates that due to violent content, language and other issues, the SABC should have scheduled the programme after 9pm, during the watershed period.
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