Jani Allan. Until last week, few people my age (and around) knew who she was. My parents recognised her name. They’re in their mid sixties. Allan is 62 so the shoe fits. On the 14th April, 2014 however, Allan entered the Oscar Pistorius fray with an open letter on her blog.
It’s hot topic – Oscar and the trial he’s on for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp, so it didn’t take long for what she recorded there to go viral. It was what any blog (including this one) presents: opinion. Hers however leveraged its newsorthiness with the juggernaut allegation that Pistorius has been taking acting lessons for his courtroom appearances in order to deliver a testimony by-design, to both advocates for and against him – Barry Roux and Gerrie Nel respectively.
It’s hot topic because, as is the case with any celebrity, we feel they are ours. His wrong is a wrong to us. He abused his power… he is reckless… he is a monster… whatever. I’m not here to defend Oscar Pistorius. He stopped irritating me a while ago. Jani Allan has taken that place and, I put it to you, she has had you all on.
Wikipedia lists Jani Allan as a South African columnist, broadcaster and animal rights advocate. She became a household name through her work at the Sunday Times (1980 to 1989) and, at the height of her fame in 1987, commissioned a Gallup poll to find “the most admired person in South Africa”.
Her open letter picks up the story and depicts her as ‘the other woman’ in Eugene Terre’blanche’s life whilst his was falling apart. After much tumult and an assassination attempt on her life, the most admired person in South Africa decided to go west and, from 2001, found a new vocation in the PR and restauranting industries in the States. She also tried her hand at astrology, but you knew that already, didn’t you?
It’s now being said that Jani has returned to the media frame. But… in all fairness – and just like me here – the Internet gives anybody a voice. Ergo, eight full days after her blog went viral, she is still tweeting the clincher from it with links to equally authoritative media leaders like Perez Hilton and UPI.com – under a section called “Odd News”.
Odd. News. Indeed.
Do you remember 2009’s MTV Awards? Where one Sacha Baron Cohen – dressed as Bruno in just a thong and angel wings – flitted from the ceiling and landed, ass-all-exposed on Eminem’s face? Three years before that, the same actor was stopped by Secret Service personnel at The White House, when he attempted to invite George W. Bush to the screening of his then movie ‘Borat’ in an effort to promote ‘Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan’.
It’s called a publicity stunt, aimed to garner fever-pitch interest and do work for your brand that paid or owned media – with the same amount of time – could only dream of achieving. Want a success story? Think Felix Baumgartner’s edge of space jump to earth for Red Bull. Jani Allan’s story? Not so much.
Online, this seasoned journalist is quick to highlight / remind / reprimand re: her viral success and commits to statements like this for her brand:
We all have. Clearly. But post slumber, have a listen to her speaking to Fox News here.
It was the interviewer’s question at around 04:48 that really woke me up, but it’s her cavalier response that makes me think perhaps she and Oscar got a two-for-one special at this acting coach she knows so well. And “…when the steel horses came down…” – as she puts it – she professes innocent simplicity in her motives and that her open letter was just opinion.
No. No it wasn’t. It was a cheap shot by someone hanging on to the ass-end of their fifteen minutes who has plans to release a memoir. The clincher? Society has handed her the Soap Box she was so angling for and now, apparently, even her opinion on Oscar having a new girlfriend is deemed worthy of the forum?! Who are you Jani Allen, when it comes to adding value to a case that has our nation in a catatonic state? You were the other woman to a man our history is embarrassed to include.
May you have an opinion about Oscar Pistorious? Yes. Is the link between that opinion and your experience with Eugene Terre’blanche tenuous, at best? Yup. Is this a PR stunt to drum up rent-a-crowd interest before your book “Just Jani” (…sigh…) is released? It most definitely is. You could have saved us all the hassle and added a badly lit, homemade sex tape of you and who-cares-who to the carte du jour available already.
If that’s how the righteous, hardworking nobility like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian had to sweat it out to get their genius got, who are you Just Jani to think you can fast track your way to a best seller? I’m not buying it.
And I’m definitely not buying it.
1987 was a lifetime ago. Reinvent yourself Jani which means boldly letting go of that most admired person in South Africa title. Spoiler alert: you’re not it.
I’d think that, with all the stamps in your passport and the lessons that life should have taught you, you’d have gone about this with a lot more wisdom and finesse than you did.
Move along. Nothing more to see here.
© Dylan Balkind