Kartel - Pet or Pariah?

Kartel - Pet or Pariah?

Marcia Forbes PhD

Debut of Teacha's Pet 

Adi the Teacha has been incarcerated and is being changed for murder, along with other things.  Yes, Vybz Kartel is innocent until proven guilty so let’s not jump to conclusions.  Two Fridays ago I watched the debut of his highly anticipated television reality series, Teacha’s Pet, sponsored by LIME and Red Stripe Bold Beer.  It seemed as if in almost every shot there was someone holding a bottle of Bold beer.  LIME was plastered across every commercial break and from my memory, the transitions within the programme as well.  Communal TV watching is alive via Twitter.  Especially when it’s a local programme, the cacophony of tweets provides added entertainment and or introspection.  As expected, immediately after the show someone on Twitter asked how I felt about it.  I offered one word, “sad”.

Keeping My Mouth 
It is always hard to assess TV productions publicly.  Co-ownership of Phase 3 Productions Ltd. leaves me constrained not to openly criticize.  One of the few times I veered from this self-imposed restraint and  offered what I felt was very measured and constructive criticism resulted in my first and only experience of cyber-bullying via Twitter.  The media manager’s immature and trite attempt to stymie any but complimentary views about the production quality of that programme, another that was highly publicized and anticipated, fell flat as Twitter was alight with largely negative comments.  That cyber-bullying attempt provides great fodder for my upcoming book about youths and their social, mobile lifestyles, so, in retrospect it served a useful purpose.

Coming back to Teacha’s Pet, production quality aside, it left me sad that two large corporate entities chose to spend sponsorship dollars in support of a product that was of questionable value to their image and, more importantly, the image of Jamaica.  As I watched the behaviour of the females vying to be Adi the teacha’s pet, I reflected on an earlier time when Red Stripe was a part of a team of big businesses that tried to clean up the music by refusing to sponsor certain artistes known for their offensive lyrics.  It wasn’t long before they seemed to have changed their minds about that noble thrust. 

Good Over Evil
Had no one heard of the Hays Code?  In the movies it’s standard knowledge, coming out of the enforcement of that Code, that good must prevail over evil.  Although the Code was abandoned in the 1960s, the principle holds fast.  How then was it that the two cantankerous, war-mongering twins from New York who bullied and beat the woman from Australia suffered not even a reprimand?  I shudder at what the world must think of Jamaica based on the portrayals in that first episode.  Those terrible two, the twins, were unfortunately of Jamaican heritage.

As I watched Teacha’s Pet I also wondered how the management team at LIME would weather the potential backlash to its sponsorship of a programme with so many obvious edits to remove inappropriate content.  Yes it was placed during watershed, that time of day when the children audience should be reduced, if at all, but even adults viewers had concerns.  One tweep described watching Teacha’s Pet as a ‘rape’ of her eyes.  Others used similarly expressive tweets to describe their displeasure and even disgust.  The defence from one was that it’s not educational TV and persons watched as a matter of choice. I agree.  Still, doubts dogged me to the point where I decided that I didn’t need to see episode 2.  In any event broadcast of that episode was overtaken by events.

Lime Pulls Plug

Coming on his incarceration and the serious nature of the the charges against Adijah Palmer (aka Vybz Kartel), LIME has reportedly pulled the plug on the programme via mobile TV.  It is unclear what the status is with regard to broadcasts via free-to-airTV.  Episode 2 was not aired.  We wait to hear from Red Stripe Bold.  Its highly controversial Bear Campaign delivered many laughs but has it sold beers?  How, if at all, will Teacha’s Pet impact these brands?  How will their Head Offices overseas respond to the turn of events with Adijah Palmer?  Will he be the sponsors’ pet or pariah?