Kellan Speaks Out Against Corrective Rape

I had the chance to speak to Kellan last year about the kind of message he wanted to convey with his debut single “I’ll Be”. Much of what he said seemed to be rooted in wanting to speak out against hate crimes – especially those against South Africa’s LGBT community. He also spoke about wanting to raise awareness regarding corrective rape – a widespread occurrence in South Africa’s hideously patriarchal society. It sounded like an ambitious project at the time and one that I followed quite curiously. It is not a topic that many artists would want to touch when releasing their debut single or even touch when they have an established career but Kellan does not seem to be interested in conforming to mainstream genre constraints.

It is not a topic that many artists would want to touch when releasing their debut single or even touch when they have an established career but Kellan does not seem to be interested in conforming to mainstream genre constraints. His single is a lilting piece of melancholic synth-pop with a buoyant and inspirational chorus that screams out against the belief that you need to conform to a person’s or people’s expectations of behaviour. It could be considered to be a touching ode to a relationship where someone tries to be what their partner wants out of emotional affection, or, it could be interpreted in a very different way. A way that is portrayed in the music video in which a young lesbian couple is viciously torn apart by a group of young men who take it upon themselves to rape the one woman to “cure” her of her sexuality. There is no happy ending to this video. It is a stark and harrowing account of the brutality that takes place within South Africa’s townships on a daily basis. It is a video that truly portrays one of the many dangers present in a society by a culture of hyper-masculinity and one that cannot be ignored.

It is a piece of artistic expression that should not be necessary in 2016, but unfortunately, we spend so much time complaining about the out “PC culture” that we lose sight of what is going on around us. We have become desensitised to the horrors that occur around and pass off things like corrective rape as just another reason why our country is going to shit. We act like there is nothing we can do about it because it is apparently part of their culture – which is one of the most racist and ignorant things that one could possibly say short of using the K-word. It is a sweeping generalisation that always seems to pop out of the middle-class’s mouth when faced with such horrors, and even if we do talk about it – we would only do so for a week before returning to our flat whites, complaining about the country and bickering about which Arcade Fire album is better (The Suburbs, obviously).  I could go on and on with this rant about how people are apathetic towards social issues when it does not actively affect them, but perhaps it does. Perhaps you know a member of the LGBT community? Perhaps your son or daughter is a closeted member, or even an open member? Then this affects you because it is an active hate crime against an entire community of people. It is not one person being affected. It is an entire community being told that are not good enough to be considered as anything but sub-human. This is what Kellan is trying to say, and this is what I’m going to say: stop being apathetic. Stop moaning about the country and actively do something to make a difference.

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