Posted on 18 January 2012.
South Africa loves its bad girls.
We pretend to be outraged, saddened, disgusted by their behaviour. But secretly we love them and all the accompanying drama and chaos in their lives.
Of course, being the conservative society we are, the whiff of impropriety that seems to hover over our bad girls makes us shrink back in horror. Unfortunately it is rarely enough to stop us from obsessively cataloguing all their faults and playing pseudo-psychologists to explain why these poor souls deserve sympathy not censure.
Khanyi Mbau has been SA’s bad girl since her debut on the small screen and our fascination with her peaked this weekend when naked pictures of her were allegedly leaked over Twitter.
Those who have appointed themselves custodians of our moral lives and immortal souls were immediately up in arms denouncing her scandalous behaviour. All the while making sure we all see the pictures by tweeting and retweeting the links.
This rabid denouement ensured the la Mbau trended well into the night in a way that would make any PR savvy media figure salivate. What interests me, however, is not Ms. Mbau’s second debut in her birthday suit. Far from it.
What caught my attention was the Twitter frenzy surrounding the eponymous #boobgirl. Yes, Boobgirl (The strangely appropriate name that a young lady was immediately christened with upon her debut on Twitter). If I need to explain the name, you are too young and should stop reading right now.
My point – and yes I do have a point – is that even as we reacted with shock and awe, even as we discussed ad nauseam our revulsion and pity… we clicked the follow button.
The upshot is that within a few short hours, this young lady had reached over a thousand new followers, a feat that many of us view not with a little envy. All she did was flash her admittedly impressive mammaries and South Africa was spellbound. Captivated. Tit-illated.
Let me say it again. South Africa loves its bad girls.
Admittedly, it’s more a love/hate relationship than any healthy fascination. In public we tut disapprovingly at their stunts but in private, we cheer them on because the world loves non-conformity; we like it when they score and watch gleefully as they crash and burn.
From Brenda Fassie to Vinolia Mashego to Nonhle Thema, our ‘love-to-hate-em’ relationship with bad girls is well-documented. We cheered for Ntsiki in the popular soapie Generations and picked Brooke over the sugar sweet Taylor in the Bold & The Beautiful, despite (or because of) her outrageous behaviour.
And why shouldn’t we? Bad girls are cheeky and arrogant and their stars burn bright while they are in the public eye. And maybe that’s why we love them. They say what we wish we could say, do all the crazy things we wish we could do and – more importantly – they appear to get away with it.
Think about that the next time you are tempted to turn your nose up at a bad girl, ask yourself one question: will my disapproval influence this bad girls’ behaviour in any way? The answer probably won’t surprise you and it just might stop you from pressing that retweet button and ensuring she gets all the attention she craves.
Take that, bad girls!