Yesterday, I listened to an interview that featured Loyiso Gola, one of the finest comedians in Africa, being interviewed by Lerato Mbele, one of the finest journalists in Africa.
Lerato says she adores Tyler Perry, but she is not a fan of his character, Madea. She also mentions how women squirm when men represent or play female characters, such as Martin Lawrence as Big Mama or Robin Williams as Mrs Doubtfire.
In essence, Lerato was attempting to draw attention to the fact that even brilliant comedy may conceal misogyny.
In response to Lerato’s remarks, Loyiso responds by saying: “Wow, I didn’t know this, I’m hearing about it for the first time, I haven’t read any studies on it, therefore I don’t know.”
Lerato’s observation and Loyiso’s response were both impressive to me.
In some cases, you don’t have to think at all to know if something is right or wrong; in others, you have to apply your intellect first.
An appropriate reaction if you haven’t applied your mind is:
“I haven’t read the research, I don’t know, I haven’t thought about it.”
In a world where everyone has an opinion on everything and is allowed to express it, I found it remarkable that someone would respond to a question with “I don’t know, I haven’t thought about it.”
In addition, Loyiso stresses the importance of normalising the phrase “I haven’t thought about it” when we are unsure about the answers to a question.
People are able to quickly and easily share their thoughts and perspectives in this modern era because to the proliferation of social media platforms.
The risk here is that people will offer opinions on topics they have no knowledge about. The danger with this is that people express opinions on things they know nothing about.
Lerato expands on this issue by quoting John F. Kennedy as saying:
“Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” – John F Kennedy.
When people voice their opinions on topics about which they have not studied the relevant research or applied their minds on the topic, it can create a dangerous pattern.
People have strong beliefs on a variety of topics, such as the efficacy of vaccines despite not having done the necessary reading, the impact of physical punishment on children and the link between that and their violent behaviour as adults, etc.
Doing the reading is the bare minimum you can do if you plan on expressing an opinion.
There is no shame in admitting ignorance and stating, “I don’t know, I haven’t put much thought into it.”
If you haven’t read and thought about it, say, “I don’t know.”
PS: Loyiso says he despised playing a woman in a skirt once on the Pure Monate Show on TV and never did it again.