KRISTEN VAN SCHIE
IT WAS HALFWAY through his 1am rant that Talk Radio 702 news reader Mark Esterhuysen looked up and saw the call screener glaring at him, her mouth wide open.
But there was no turning back.
He sped up.
“F*** capitalism. F*** fascism. F*** this f****** wage-slavery graveyard shit.”
He was allowed to go on for 40 seconds before the music kicked in and cut him off. He removed his headphones, stood up, and gave the studio surveillance camera the finger.
As he exited the building, he left a parting word with the late-night security guard: “Tell the corporation to go f*** themselves.”
Career suicide, or the media industry’s boldest resignation letter?
By daybreak, Eyewitness News editor-in-chief Katy Katopodis had already labelled the on-air vigilante a publicity-seeker, while a station press release stated politely that “Mark’s contract with EWN (Eyewitness News) has been terminated with immediate effect”.
But as clips of the tirade bounced around the internet, Esterhuysen switched off his phone and enjoyed what he described as “the best day of my life – I don’t have to go to work today”.
A Tuks FM alumnus, Esterhuysen began working for Eyewitness News in May. But, he said, four months of being a “wage slave” was enough to leave him deeply disillusioned.
“I’m all about freedom of expression,” he explained yesterday afternoon. “But I felt censored. I don’t appreciate the fact that a lot of corporate media organisations are slaves to capitalism.
“Primedia is a corporation at the end of the day. They don’t actually give a f*** about the man on the street.”
Esterhuysen said he was “paid peanuts so the head honchos could live in big houses”.
“I felt like the corporation made me a wage slave for their benefit. So I figured, f*** them. I would use them as a platform for my views.”
Views against police brutality and racism. Populist politicians and corporates. Civilisation and the destruction of the planet.
On his blog, Looking at the World from a Distance, Esterhuysen describes the day he decided “civilisation” was not for him:
“I thought for a second and said: ‘Is it not obvious why I hate civilisation? Humans are unhappy, animals are unhappy, the environment is unhappy. What the f*** are we doing trying to perpetuate the misery of civilisation?… I wanted to get away from all of the crap that had been fed to me since I was a baby.
“I wanted to live as the human animal has evolved to live!”
It was a wish that did not involve being contracted to the graveyard shift at a big media house.
And it seems he struck a nerve.
Links to Esterhuysen’s broadcast went viral.
Pretty soon, the hashtag #markesterhuysen was trending on Twitter.
“Long live Mark Esterhuysen, viva! Now that’s one way to tell your bosses to shove it,” tweeted @SuperFREAK_SA.
Others were less supportive.
“Mark Esterhuysen, what a prat,” tweeted @GourmetGuys.
But Esterhuysen doesn’t care.
“I know a lot of people are angry because they don’t know where I’m coming from… A lot of people say ‘f*** the system’ without ever actually questioning it or having the guts to stand up and say ‘f*** you’. What I’m saying is, all of us working- and middle-class people actually need to stand up for what’s right.”
As for being newly unemployed?
“I have no intention of being a wage slave ever again,” he said.