The success of Leon Schuster in a post-apartheid South Africa and what it says about blackness
This dissertation aims to break down Leon Schuster's formula for success and deconstructs how he effectively uses his formula to attract a wide diverse South African audience. The formula is broken down into four visual storytelling techniques, which include blackface, slapstick, candid camera and stereotypes. I also investigate how he gets away with his more controversial techniques (blackface and stereotypes). This research uses There’s a Zulu on my stoep (1993), Oh Schuks… I’m Gatvol (2004), Mama Jack (2005) and Schuks Tshabalala’s Survival Guide to South Africa (2010) as case studies to examine how he successfully implements his formula whilst highlighting its limitations. Although Schuster implements his techniques effectively, he however fails to deconstruct his more problematic techniques and presents them in an uncritical manner. My creative project, Zwart (2021) uses Schuster’s techniques to critique his misrepresentation of blackness and follows a narrative that tackles racism, racial division and blackness through a critical lens.
A dissertation submitted to the Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Film and Television, 2021