PATRICK MCVAY

WRITER

Deaf Ears

Back when I was just out of college, I saw the movie “Cry Freedom” about a journalist investigating the death of Steve Biko while in police custody in South Africa. What I knew about Biko before I entered the cinema, which was precious little, came from the song “Biko” by Peter Gabriel (It was business as usual in police room 619) and an aside or two by the professor of my History of Southern Africa class in college, who had given us lessons in how to pronounce Apartheid. ("It's not Apart-hide; it's apart-hate.")

What I remember of the the movie all these years later is also precious little. However, I do recall that I sat next to a woman who kept yelling at the screen whenever the police smacked around this or that black activist or stonewalled investigators. She was particularly incensed by the brutalizing of Biko, and voiced her anger, quite literally. “Jerk!” “Asshole!” "Liar!" This went on all movie long. 

I came very close to turning to my neighbor to explain that the characters couldn’t hear her and, anyway, they weren’t really police but just actors. “And that’s not blood, it’s ketchup,” as dear old dad used to say.

But I put up with all of this woman’s moaning and yelling, as it was a pretty emotionally tense movie for all of us, and anyway, we weren’t watching The Rockford Files, where you knew Jim Rockford couldn't die because, as my dad would point out, "He has a show to do next week."

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Wednesday, 23 May 2018

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