„Sorry For Your Loss“ – Serientipp

Manche Serien kommen praktisch aus dem Nichts und hauen mich aus dem Stand so richtig aus den Socken. Dazu gehört auch Sorry For Your Loss, in der die Geschichte der jungen Leigh Shaw erzählt wird, die vor kurzem ihren Mann verloren hat und jetzt wieder bei ihrer Mutter lebt und in deren Fitnessstudio zusammen ihrer alkoholabhängigen Schwester arbeitet. Und genau darum geht es in der Serie: das Alltagsleben mit Trauer, Abhängigkeit, Depressionen und anderen Hindernissen, die einem das Leben in den Weg stellt. Sorry For Your Loss erzählt auf sehr einfühlsame Weise, voller Tragik, aber doch sehr leichtfüßig, was solche Problematiken und Schicksalschläge für das Leben bedeuten.

Die Serie geht sehr realistisch und offen mit dem Thema Trauer um, mit den teils widersprüchlichen Gefühlen, die nach dem Verlust eines geliebten Menschen entstehen. Glaubt man den Kommentaren auf Facebook zu den einzelnen Folgen, finden sich viele Menschen, die Ähnliches durchgemacht haben, in der Serie wieder. Der Fokus liegt auf Leigh, doch in Episode 2 wird z. B. rührend gezeigt, dass auch die erweiterte Verwandtschaft einen Freund verloren hat, sie ihre Trauer aber nur versteckt zeigt, um Leigh gegenüber gefestigt und unterstützend aufzutreten.

Elizabeth Olsen spielt Leigh sehr eindrucksvoll mit ihren unterschiedliche Formen und Phasen der Trauer, wie sie mit dem Verlust umgeht und was sie nach außen vorspielt, während sie eigentlich die ganze Zeit wütend ist. Ihre anfängliche Unfähigkeit, die gemeinsame Wohnung wieder zu betreten; wie sie dann versucht, den PIN-Code für sein Handy herauszufinden; und was die darauf gespeicherten Sprachnachrichten bei ihr auslösen.

Ein zweites großes Thema der Serie ist die Depression und der Umgang damit. Triggerwarnig: sie nimmt kein gutes Ende. Beeindruckend und realistisch ist die Schilderung der Unfähigkeit eines an Depression erkrankten Menschen, anderen begreiflich zu machen, wie es sich eine Depression anfühlt bzw. die Unmöglichkeit es zu verstehen und nachzuvollziehen, wenn man es selbst nie erlebt hat.

Von der Erzählstruktur erinnert Sorry For Your Loss an This Is Us, wenn auch in einem kleineren Rahmen und mit zwei Zeitebenen, die klarer strukturiert sind und näher beieinander liegen, setzt aber auf ähnliche Offenbarungsmomente, in denen die Rädchen bzw. Plotlinien zusammenlaufen und sich ein logisches Ganzes ergibt.

Ein weiteres Highlight ist die durchgehend ausgezeichnete Darstellerriege. Allen voran natürlich Elizabeth Olsen, die Leigh mit einer herzzerreißenden Mischung aus Verletzlichkeit und Stärke spielt und eine Figur voller faszinierender Facetten erschafft, nicht frei von Fehlern, und deshalb so viel nahbahrer. Kelly-Marie (Loan) Tran spielt ihre Schwester, die in der ersten Folge noch wie ein Funny Sidekick wirkt, schnell aber auch Tiefe erhält, die sie oft unter einem verschmitzten Lächeln und einem trockenen Humor versteckt, die in den entscheidenden Momenten aber durchschimmert. Leigh verstorbener Ehemann Matt wird in den Rückblenden Mamoudou Athie gespielt, sehr ruhig und zurückgenommen, mit Humor und innerer Zerrissenheit aufgrund seiner Erkrankung. Sein Bruder Danny, wird von Jovan Adepo gespielt, kommt zunächst noch tough und unnahbar daher, als jemand, der die Frau seines Bruders nicht leiden kann, ein Eindruck, der wie so viele erste Eindrücke in dieser Serie, täuscht.

Hinzu kommen viele kleine Details, die zeigen, wie viele Gedanken sich die Serienmacher gemacht haben. Während der Flitterwochen liest Leigh z. B. Lauren Goffs Fates und Furies, ein Roman, in dem es um eine ähnliche Thematik geht und das als böses Omen dient. Viele Andeutungen werden geschickt gesetzt und erst mit der Zeit realisiert man, was da wirklich vor sich geht, dann setzt die Erkenntnis aber um so wuchtiger ein.

Ursprünglich wurde die Serie von Kit Steinkellner für den PayTV-Kanal Showtime entwickelt, landete dann aber bei Facebook Watch, die dieses Jahr ins Seriengeschäft eingestiegen sind. Leider ging Sorry For Your Loss dort, trotz hervorragender Kritiken, ziemlich unter. Es war vermutlich keine gute Idee, jede Woche eine Doppelfolge zu veröffentlichen. Ich habe die Serie jetzt innerhalb von zwei Tagen durchgesehen, weil ich einfach nicht aufhören konnte. Hätte ich immer eine Woche auf neue Folgen warten müssen, wäre das Seherlebnis vermutlich nicht so intensiv und mitreißend gewesen.

Sorry For Your Loss ist genau die Art von Serie, wie ich sie am meisten liebe. Mit echten Menschen und Problemen aus dem wahren Leben, ohne irgendwelchen übernatürlichen Firlefanz, ohne Psychopathen, Serienkiller, Gangster usw. Eine Familiengeschichte wie Parenthood, This Is Us, SMILF oder Six Feet Under, und eine Liebes- und Beziehungsgeschichte wie in Love – und zwar verdammt gut geschrieben.

Eine deutsche Fassung scheint es nicht zu geben, auch keine Untertitel.

English Summary: An extremely well written show about grief and depression, and how to cope with it, but still funny and empowering.

Die Antwoord – TEN$ION (Review)

Remember that guy from In and Out?

That is me. No, not Kevin Kline! The guy on the tape. I am a man. Real men do not dance. I have never danced and I have never planned to do so. It is not that I feel uncomfortable with my body in general. I have always done sports (Football/Soccer, Basketball, Volleyball, Aikido …), but I am a very introverted person (much more than this blog suggests). Dancing is about letting go, loosing up, expressing emotions by movement. I do not do that.

Well, once in my life I did dance. Back in school in 6th grade, we made a choreography to KLFs Justified and Ancient. We had to dance in front of the whole school – it was humiliating. The mob wanted an encore, not because we were so good – no, that bloodthirsty crowd wanted to see me again. Cause I was so bad that I always had to watch, what the other dancers were doing, and of course I was many seconds behind their movements. The next day everybody congratulated me for my extraordinary performance. Since this traumatic episode I have a simple motto in life: I do not dance.

BUT (in capitals 😉 ) lately I have started doing workout with my own body weight. That was about the same time I kind of fell in love with the music of Die Antwoord. And for the work-out sessions I made a mix with my favorite Songs by the band. It really helps me to stay motivated doing the workout four to five times a week for 40 minutes each time. And there are breaks between the units. Breaks in which the music continues and my body is on fire. I just try to relax my muscles, drink a bit and embrace myself for the next torment. But I can not help it, it’s like I have been possessed by a tokoloshe. My body wants to move to the music. And now I’m afraid, I will turn out as this guy:

Thanks a lot, Die Antwoord.

The most seductive dance songs are on Ten$ion.

It is often mentioned that Die Antwoord is weird, especially Yo-Landi. I do not get it. Of cause they have a unique style and Yo-Landis lovely haircut is gorgeous, but there should not be anything weird about people not fitting in to the corset of a normative society.

In my review of $O$ I wrote a about some formal things that I liked about the songs, I put some musical terminology in, that I had overheard or read somewhere, I elongated my thoughts on some of the songs, but in the end the review turned out to be pretty halting. I tried to hard but missed the point to connect my emotions with my written thoughts on it, while hearing the music.

With Ten$ion and especially I Fink You Freaky it is different. That song hit some buttons in me, like only few songs did before. My whole life I felt a kind of freaky. Not mainly by my looks, but more about how I feel around other people. As I mentioned before, I am a very introverted and quiet person. I do not talk much, especially when I am around people. I do not feel comfortable around people (not all people of course, I love my friends), I do not know how to express myself. Like a weirdo who asks himself, what the hell am I doing her, I don’t belong here.

But I found a way to express myself: In writing, writing stories and writing this blog. This is my playground, where I tell people what I like, what I am interested in. Compared to my behavior in real life, this is my stage persona, my act, but this act is much closer to the real me or what I see as the real me than the Markus that most of my friends and acquaintances know.

And I guess Ninja and Yo-Landi have found their way to express themselves in a fitting way. It takes time, it might not work in the beginning, but finally the parts will fit together. This artistic expression might just be a certain aspect of the real persons behind Ninja and Yo-Landi, like I do not write about everything that is going on in my life, but to me it seems pretty descent – not the joke act that many critics suspect. It shows their heart for the weirdoes, outcasts, eccentrics, and that is something I can emotionally connect with. That hits my buttons in the right way, and it does more. It inspires me; their music is like a muse to me. In the last four weeks my creative activities have increased exponentially – as you can see on this blog, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

That is the power of music. I never expected to be inspired so strongly by this kind of music (rap, rave, techno, etc.) – somehow it just happened. It has inflamed a spark in me I had almost forgotten. Ninja sings My baby’s on fire. I write: Babe I’m on fire. Thanks to you. Die Antwoord.

Jesus, I almost sound like some religious goof after his revival. Eight hundred and seventy words, but almost non about the music on Ten$ion. Time for a change.

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Before the aforementioned I Fink You Freaky, Ten$ion starts with a musical intro-song called Never Le Nkemise 1 (must be Sotho) that assures everybody that this record still contains (South) African influences, that Die Antwoord is back, and you can never stop them. After the short atmospheric dense tribal-chorus Never Le Nkemise (You Can’t Stop Me); Le ka zama mara never leloke (You can try but you won’t survive) Ninja shows everybody in a bombastic entrance who calls the shots (and that is not Jacob Zuma).

And then the record really starts with the song I instantly fell in love with. I Fink You Freaky (and I like you a lot). It is a pretty classical Rave-song with a hard techno beat at the core and exotic and (as always) lovely rap parts by Yo-Landi in a mixture of Afrikaans and English. It is not the lyrics that made me fell for this song, cause they are about Die Antwoords favorite topic: themselves, their influence and appearance, and how they are blowing up overseas. It is the amazing video by Ninja and photographer Roger Ballen that just perfectly connects with the music and turns out to be a serious, profound and lovely piece of art (I did not knew that sex with dog can cure aids). I can also strongly recommend Roger Ballens other works (like Outland or Asylum of Birds).

Hey Sexy begins with an intriguing guitar riff and a stomping refrain. The lyrics can deliver nothing new to the bands narrative, but as for so many song by Die Antwoord it is more about the sound of the lyrics and how they fit to the music than about content. In this case they are a perfect match to the hypnotic and repetitive beats

Fatty Boom Boom is one of my favorite songs (even if it is all about money), not just because of the driving jungle beat, mainly it is Yo-Landi extraordinary performance as a rapper. She was not bad at all on $O$, but now she clearly has improved and it sounds so charming and sweet. With the fast beat and the powerful structure this song adds definitely something new to the bands portfolio. A disco hit that wanna makes you dance (no pun intended). The video is also a nice piece of art, an ironical comment on the western worlds view on (South) Africa, with some very entertaining details, like the picture with Desmond Tutu in it, shooting with a nine millimeters bible!

And the next song So What, with old-school hip hop beats, is about – wait for it, here it comes – suprise: Ninja and Yo-Landi. But this time it sounds more serious and decent, and tells their story before they became famous, when Yo-Landi showed Ninja the two stripes on the fucking piss test. And he realized: Oh fuck, brock ass Ninja gonna be a dady. And they play with their ambiguity towards the media, when Yo-Landi rapps: So what I tell the truth even when I tell a lie. This is a quiet and relaxed song, a classical hip hop number with smart lyrics, that sticks out between all those hardcore-techno beats on this album. Funky shit.

Baby’s on Fire is one of those (almost hysterical) hardcore-techno numbers, but also contains some reduced videogame sound beats when Yo-landi is performing here verses (very slick and clever). I don’t got beef ‚cause I don’t eat no meat. One of their bests songs that has much more substance than it seems at first.

 

After a Yo-Landi song now it is time for a Ninja solo (U Make A Ninja Wanna Fuck) with a brief house song containing very fast and skillful raps thattotally over sexualized. Nice, but nothing that sticks.

Fok Julle Naaiers (Love you all – no I’m just kidding, it actually means what you think it could mean) is once a again a song about Ninja and his big balls and the ever occurring question what is real – Next time u ask me ‚is it real? ‚ I’m gonna punch u in da face. What makes the song so catchy is the refrain/hook by Yo-Landi.

 

DJ Hi-Tek Rulez. Dj hi-tek will fuck u in da ass. Can’t wait for it. 🙂

Never Le Nkemise 2 closes the circle – that started with part 1 – with a classical techno sound from the nineties. But DJ Hi-Tek breaks that catchy rhythm up half way through the song and gives it his own signature.

What I do not like on this record: Too much songs by Die Antwoord are about themselves (says the guy who just wrote the first 800 words of an music review about himself, and – oops – just did it again). On $O$ we had Evil Boy about circumcisions, Rich Bich about newly rich stardom or She Makes Me A Killer about relationships. On Tension it is all about Die Antwoord – Yo-Landi and Ninja. But that is understandable. $O$ was republished after they became an internet sensation, but before they blew up overseas. Now on Tension they are already famous all over the world. Their lives must have changed with a certain amount of madness happening around them. So at the center of this storm, of cause they sing about the impacts on their lives. And to spoil a little bit: On Donker Drag there will be again a bigger variety of topics.

But unlike $O$ Tension is a very coherent album with a clear theme that pervades all songs. Even with such a great song like Evil Boy missing, it is clear that the skills of all three band members have improved. They have a clear vision and the abilities and resources to put this vision into music (and videos). Ten$ion is my favorite record with the most songs on my work out list.

Wow, this has become a quite personal review. Don’t know how that could happen, but now it’s finished and I can go back reading Knausgård.

P.S. By the way, Die Antwoord are of course not the only Zef-musicians from South. If you are interested in more, I recommend Jack Parrow:

And if you like Die Antwoord you might also like Peaches (Be warned prudes! Could contain traces of vagina!):

Die Antwoord – $O$ (Review)

Hier geht es zur deutschen Fassung dieses Rezension.

Disclaimer: I am not a music journalist or a musician, so I have no fokken clue, what I am doing here. 🙂 And beware! English is not my first language.

When in 2009 Die Antwoord (Ninja, Yo-Landi Vi$$er and DJ Hi-Tek) turned out to be an internet phenomenon, I noticed it marginally, but did not look further into it, I did not watch the videos nor listen to the music. At this time I had my hands full finding an apartment in Berlin to start studying the useless arts at the Free University.

It took me six years to notice what a marvelous and amazing band respectively artists Die Antwoord is/are. That was four weeks ago and their videos blew my mind away. So you can get a picture of my taste in music and how to sort this review in the context of this taste, here is list with my favorite music. As you can see, there are not many musicians that started making music after the year 2000 – I am mostly influenced by the music of my teenage years in the nineties. The newer stuff seems less original to me, and as older I get the harder it is to delight me.

But Die Antwoord manages to take known elements like white trash clichés, Eurodance, Hip-Hop, Rave etc. and combines them to an idiosyncratic and highly creative mix enriched with the so called Zef style, an Afrikaans accent und more South African influences. At first glance I fell for the white-trash attitude and I believed that the South African Trailer Park Boys (and Girls) had discovered their musical talents. But looking closer into history of Watkin Tudor Jones (Ninja) and Anri de Tout (Yo-Landi Vi$$er) it occurred to me that this must be an clever art project or at least something that has started as one. Cause nobody keeps up with something like this, without living it in parts. In an Interview with Mother Jones Ninja states that he stopped making clever jokes in order to do something real. But that does not matter, it is none of my business, I don’t give a fok about what is real or not . The music is real and so are the videos and the live performances. Nothing else matters. It’s entertainment and art.

Ninja and Yo-Landi have done other projects like The Original Evergreen and Max Normal.TV – where Ninja raped his criticism on capitalism in a suit while Yo-Landi was doing a power point presentation , but nothing worked out that good.

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If you listen to $O$ it will not take long to notice that there is much more substance to this project than the Video Zef Side indicates. At the beginning the album was available for free on the bands homepage (or was that the EP 5, I am not quite sure?), later Interscope/Universal bought and published it, but the deal was cancelled before the second album Ten$ion came out. The band preferred their artistically freedom and now all albums by Die Antwoord are published on their own label ZEF-Records (please correct me, if I am wrong).

 

After a discordant intro and the distorted refrain, the first song In Your Face begins with a slamming and pumping beat, followed from the unique raps with an strong Afrikaans accent by Yo-Landi. Despite the slightly annoying refrain and the not less annoying raps by Ninja, this is a powerful and catchy opening for the record. The lyrics are a mainly about the band members themselves, how they have changed over the years, wrapped into a chavvy self-portrayal (as it is right and proper for Gangsta-Rap).

Song number two is the big hit that made Die Antwoord famous all over the world. The first ten seconds of Enter The Ninja already gripped me with a theremin kind of sound followed by a bombastic electric-organ sound with a simple chord sequence (correct me if I am wrong). Than the more than catchy refrain starts with Yo-Landis schoolgirl voice. They have borrowed it from Smile.dks’s Butterfly (without being mysterious about it). Than Ninja begins with his fast machinegun-raps that are quiet perfect in this song. Everything comes together: a good flow, catchy rhymes, a great rhythm in conjunction with the music and the change of pace. The story is about an underdog with a white-trash biography; a man who thinks he is a ninja respectively lives after the role models that the ninja movies from the 80s (like American Ninja etc.) provides, and becomes successful against all odds. Enter the Ninja is one of those songs that a band only writes once in a lifetime (even if they have tons of other great songs). Like Creep by Radiohead, Yesterday by the Beatles, Piano Man by Billy Joel, Loser by Beck, Tribute by Tenacious D etc. Not that I would see Enter the Ninja on a level with the aforementioned, but this comparison should help you to classify the song in the context of the band’s oeuvre. By the way, Enter the Ninja is a trashy ninja movie by Cannon (I loved their films as a child) from 1981 starring Franco Nero, and was kind of the breakthrough for the studio.

Wat Kyk Jy (I guess that means „what are you lookin‘ at“) starts as a techno-number with shouted lyrics in Afrikaans, followed by spoken words by Ninja using a nonchalant voice. Seems mediocre to me, because Ninjas jabbering is a kind of annoying.

The record continues with its best song: Evil Boy. Evil Boy is a perfect combination of content, music and presentation. On this song Die Antwoord is doing one of their seldom cooperation with other musicians – in this case the young South African Rapper Wanga. Despite the first impression that you can get, by watching the music video, in which the Xhosa-parts of Wangas raps are subtitled, this song is not against homosexuality but the rite of circumcision that causes dozens of deaths amongst young South Africans due to infections by unsafe practices (kitchen knife, no disinfectants etc). It says, the circumcision would turn this boys into „real“ men, who would not become gay and stay evil boy for life. The song is a against this tradition and it makes fun of the penis fixation of an extremely homophobic society. The music produced by Diplo is powerful and rich in variety. It has literally dragged me into this song.

 

Streaked with a xylophone sound and a catchy beat Rich Bitch is the next strong song on this record. This time Yo-Landi does all the rapping alone, and makes fun of rich upper class ladies that made it from poverty to wealth. Considering her history and some comments in an interview (with Dazed) this song could contain more autobiographical background than it might seem. For example when she is rapping: I was victim of a kak situation; stuck in system with no fokken assistance, and how she had to count the change at counter. So this parody might contain a true core. The music is not really extraordinary but catchy and suitable for the lyrics.

Fish Paste is a typically phony rap song, where Ninjas shows the middle finger to all the haters, claims to be the coolest with the greatest lul and is dissing some people by name. The music is okay, but Ninjas „being annoyed voice“ is a little annoying.

Scopie convinces with a catchy refrain, video game sounds, and minimalistic beats. It contains a lot of Afrikaans, filthy lyrics and Ninja again sounds a little annoyed, but this time it fits. Not a big song but there is something about it.

Beat Boy, whose video was mainly responsible for the internet sucess of the band and their white-trash image (but only contains a small snippet from the song), is not really bad, but it gets a kind of annoying due to its 8 minutes long monotony. The lyrics are pretty lewd, pornographic , with lot of spiritual and BDSM-references that might disturbed some of the listeners. As far as I know, Ninja has already used parts of it on one of his solo records.

Never make a pretty Woman your wife, it says in She Makes Me Killer, a song about jealousy and wacky chicks with demands – at least form a male macho point of view. I like the music with its dramatically enactment, but I have problems with the lyrics, even if they are meant as an ironically criticism on this male point of view on women. Yo-Landi is not involved in this song.

I do not really know what to say to the weird, out of line stepping and destructive party and drinking song Doos Dronk, a cooperation with Jack Parow and Francois Van Coke that sounds like a mixture of a sailor song and Gogol Bordello. The live performance is much more intense, and I am fascinated how deep and aggressive Yo-Landis voice sounds compared to the other songs. Definitely a live song.

$O$ – the epilog of this record is an atmospheric and catchy instrumental song by DJ-Hi-Tek.

With $O$ Die Antwoord has created an impressive debut that does contain some mediocre songs, but overall stands out with some amazing tracks like Enter The Ninja or Evil Boy, a surprisingly great range of variety, and an fascinating artistically vision . The high amount of Afrikaans adds, thanks to Yo-Landis lovely accent, an exotic note (at least for listeners, who are primarily used to exclusively English music).

Listen and be happy.

And to Yo-Landi and Ninja (in the unlikely event that you read this): Why not make an record for kids? Like they They Might Be Giants did it with Here Come the ABC’s or Here Comes Science. No foul language, no swearing – something like Hey Kids, this is South Africa. I would love to hear something like that from you. What gangsta rapper has ever done such a record?

So. Wat pompa?

For those who missed it, the link to Die Antwoords homepage.

Note to myself (for further music reviews): find alternative expressions for „catchy“. 😉

P.S. My Review of Tension will be published on Monday the 7th, Donker Mag will follow soon.

P.P.S. For those of you, who are further interested in South African culture, I recommend my review of Niq Mhlongos Dog Eat Dog

„Dog Eat Dog“ by Niq Mhlongo

P1000622Hier geht es zur deutschen Fassung der Rezension.

Beware! English is not my first language! 😉

Dog Eat Dog by Niq Mhlongo is a novel about change. It was first published in 2004, but the events take place in 1994 in South Africa during the days of the first free election that was won by the ANC with President Nelson Mandela as a result. Main character and first-person narrator is the young student Dingz, who grew up in one of the townships of Soweto (Johannesburg).

Mhlongo does not really use a dramaturgy, there is no common theme in a classical structure – he delivers episodic insights into the everyday life of the young man, his friends, but also into the society of South Africa. It mostly reminded me on the German novel Als wir träumten by Clemens Meyer, which tells the stories of several young people in Eastern Germany before and after the German reunification in 1990. Like Meyer Mhlongo describes in flashbacks episodes from the old system, for example how young South Africans had to suffer the harassment by the apartheid regime’s police forces.

But in this story protagonist Dingz (I think his Christian name is Peter) does not come along as an appealing figure. At least not according to German beliefs and standards.

„Living in this South Africa of ours, you have to master the art of lying to survive“, explains Dingz.

And lies from the beginning, about the application for a scholarship; he lies to come up with an excuse for missing an exam, cause he partied to much; but also when he get caught by the police drinking in public, or to his girlfriend.
In a corrupted system that has pervaded the society of the country on all levels, only those who adapt to this system of lies and corruption can receive justice. The honest ones will bite the dust. And if such a system of lies has turned to be common, the lie becomes habit and will be used in a knee-jerked reaction even when not necessary. For Dingz gets himself in trouble a few times by unnecessary lies, lest the readers asks himself how Dingz could be so stupid. But on the other side he is a teenager, who are known for occasionally irrational behavior .

Dingz explains his selfishness with the following quote:

The overwhelming pressure of the environment in which we live makes people pursue their own pleasure at whatever cost.

Over decades the black majority – that does not form a homogenous group, but is a mixture of different cultures with a huge variety of languages – has been brutally oppressed by a white minority. And now after the end of apartheid and the rogue regime understandable expectations grow, for being the ones in charge and the right to enjoy live, and for a right to own the future.

The tragedy of all that lies in the fact that the socially difficult situation has not changed for most of the people. Dingz and his family still lives in one of the townships of Soweto, and now studying at a former strict white college, seems more like a fig leaf that the white upper class put as a veil over the flaw of discrimination. Cause Dingz does not have the money to pay for the college and a scholarship can only be reached by lying.

Life in Soweto, as Mhlongo describes it, contains a lot of vitality and improvements, but also a lot of violence. Even a simple ride in a mini-bus can turn out into a dangerous affair, with the bus driver as an regular source of danger. In decades of suppression a terrible potential for violence has swelled under the surface that can explode anytime in short but brutal acts of violence.

Dingz and his friends seem to have arranged themselves with this lurking violence, by developing exit strategies that unfortunately do not work all the time. Despite all this potential mayhem, they do go out regularly, they drink a lot, and they talk a lot about women and sex as well as about the country’s political and social situation. Partly those conversations appear to be a little to academically, as if the author tried to put a lot of information in it, but due to a (often vulgar) humor, he is able to keep them entertaining.

For someone who is very interested in the English language in all its varieties, this novel is with all the South African slang, the Afrikaans expressions as well as many words from languages like Zulu, Siswati, or Sotho and slang from Soweto, this novel is a treasure chest.

Many readers need a main character to identify with or with whom they can at least sympathize . I am none of these. Dingz does a lot stuff I do not like, that makes him seem unsympathetic. But many of his decisions are shaped by the environment (coming from a poor background, apartheid-regime, police-harassment, racism, institutionalized discrimination and so on). He is an ambivalent protagonist, who gives the reader an insight into South Africa shortly after the end of apartheid. It is not a thrilling but fascinating and entertaining novel by a young South African writer.

Hannibal – Die Serie

Das aktuelle und alles beherrschende Thema im Bereich TV-Serien lautet Breaking Bad keine Zeitung, kein Wochenmagazin, keine Internetseite, die momentan nicht über Walt White und sein Alter Ego Heisenberg berichtet. Auch ich verfolge aktuelle die letzten Folgen der vermutlich wirklich besten Serie aller Zeiten auf iTunes. Ich bin von Anfang an dabei, seit die erste Staffel anlief, und ja, auch für mich ist die finale Staffel das Fernsehereignis des Jahres. Deshalb verzichte ich momentan darauf, hier darüber zu schreiben. Im aktuellen Spiegel gibt es einen hervorragenden Artikel, der beschreibt, was die Serie so außergewöhnlich und einzigartig macht.

Aber es gibt auch eine Zeit nach Breaking Bad, nächste Woche Sonntag endet dieses Meisterwerk der Erzählkunst. Zeit, sich neue Serien zu suchen. Erstaunlicherweise hat ein Networksender (ausgerechnet der Gurkengarant NBC) eine interessante Serie im Angebot: Hannibal

Hannibal3© 2012 NBC Universal Media, LLC

Ich habe bereits im April über die Serie berichtet. Inzwischen habe ich die komplette erste Staffel gesehen, die ab dem 10. Oktober auch auf Sat 1 (garantiert gekürzt) anlaufen wird. Bin mal gespannt, wie lange sie durchhalten. Alternativ kann man sie sich aber auch schon auf Maxdom anschauen.

Hannibal basiert auf den Romanen von Thomas Harris und erzählt die Vorgeschichte zum ersten Band „Roter Drache“. Im Fokus stehen der FBI Agent Will Graham und der Psychiater Hannibal Lecter.

Graham besitzt eine besondere Gabe, er kann sich an Tatorten in die Gedankenwelt von Mördern hineinversetzen und erlebt die Tat aus deren Perspektive, was von der Serie in beeindruckend schaurig-schönen Bildern präsentiert wird. Für Graham wird es aber immer schwieriger, aus diesen abgründigen Gedankenwelten zurückzukehren. Sein Chef Jack Crawford (Lawrence Fishburne) macht sich Sorgen, will aber auch nicht auf seinen besten Mann verzichten, deshalb zieht er den renommierten Psychiater Dr. Hannibal Lecter zu Rate. Der ist fasziniert von Graham und beginnt eine eingenartige Beziehung zu ihm, die aus einer Mischung von Freundschaft und perfid-perverser Manipulation besteht.

Diese Beziehung ist das Hauptthema der Serie. Zwar gibt es gelegentlich auch den Serienkiller der Woche, um Crawfords Beziehungprobleme, die FBI-Psychologin Dr. Alana Bloom und die Tochter eines Serienkillers, aber im Mittelpunkt steht die intensive Beziehung zwischen Graham und Lecter.

Hannibal2© 2012 NBC Universal Media, LLC

Wer hier actionreiche Spannung wie bei Criminal Minds erwartet, ist an der falschen Adresse. Hannibal ist weniger Thriller denn vielmehr Psychodrama. Obwohl die Grausamkeiten, die hier teilweise präsentiert werden, ihresgleichen suchen, steht  das Seelenleben der Figuren im Vordergrund. Und das ist düster. So wie die ganze Serie extrem düster ist. Diese Finsternis wird dabei in wunderschönen eleganten Bildern präsentiert, die mehr Kunstwerken gleichen und weniger den runtergekurbelten Network-Procedurals, die man sonst auf NBC findet. Hinzu kommt ein ausgefeiltes und atmosphärisch dichtes Sounddesign.

Der Humor der Serie ist sehr makaber, bösartig und subtil, er setzt bei den Zuschauern das (mit Sicherheit vorhandene) Wissen um Hannibal Lecter und seine kulinarischen Gewohnheiten voraus, die in der Serie mit der Eleganz eines Fünf-Sterne-Kochs inszeniert werden.

Apropos Hannibal, der hier von Mads Mikkelson gespielte Hannibal ist ganz anders, als die ikonische Interpretation von Anthony Hopkins. Wo bei Hopkins jederzeit die körperliche Aggressivität eines Raubtieres präsent ist, kommt Mikkelson sehr viel zurückhaltender daher. Seine Darstellung ist deutlich reduzierter und unscheinbarer. Was aber auch zur Serie passt, schließlich weiß bei Hopkins Hannibal jeder, mit wem er es zutun hat, während er in der Serie noch größtenteils im Verborgenen agiert. Mikkelsons Hannibal weiß durchaus zu gefallen, aber die Bedrohlichkeit von Hopkins fehlt ein wenig. Ich würde nicht so weit gehen, zu behaupten, Mikkelson sei ein Paradeabsolvent der Steven Seagal Schauspielschule, aber seine Mimik ist teilweise etwas zu reduziert, um dem Intellekt Hannibals gerecht zu werden.

Serienkillerserien sind momentan groß in Mode, in meinem oben verlinkten Artikel gehe ich näher auf dieses Phänomen ein. In Hannibal wird der Serienkiller, also Hannibal Lecter, anders als in Dexter oder auch in den Filmen, nicht zum Helden stilisiert. Er handelt von Anfang an amoralisch, grausam und stets zu seinem eigenen Nutzen und Vergnügen. Er tötet und manipuliert aus reiner Neugierde. Auch wenn er eine faszinierende Persönlichkeit ist, besteht kein Zweifel daran, dass er der Bösewicht der Serie ist. Die Perfidität, mit der er Will Graham im Verlauf der Serie manipuliert, ist an Grausamkeit kaum zu überbieten. Der einzige Ausgleich zu dieser Kaltblütigkeit entsteht, wenn er seinerseits zu Therapiesitzungen mit der von Gillian Anderson gespielten Therapeutin Dr. Du Maurier geht. Sie ahnt, was unter seiner Oberfläche lauert, was hinter seinem Bestreben nach Freundschaft wirklich steckt.

Hannibal ist ein schaurig schönes Gemälde aus Mord, Verderben, Abgründigkeit und Kontrollverlust. Eine der Serienüberraschungen des Jahres, elegant gefilmt, psychologisch tiefgründig, dabei stets abgründig und bedrohlich.