Tuko Macho Poster [image: http://www.thisisthenest.com/tukomacho/]

Tuko Macho Poster [image: http://www.thisisthenest.com/tukomacho/]

If you haven’t heard of the Nest Collective’s Tuko Macho web series, then it is my extreme pleasure to bring it to your attention. It is a series that centers around a vigilante group that has grown weary of corruption and impunity, and starts kidnapping people and presenting their case to the public. The public then votes on whether the accused is guilty and hence sentenced to death, or innocent (and set free?). No one in the 5 episodes that have aired so far has been voted innocent, so we still don’t know what happens when they are.

Anyway I wanted to talk about the most recent episode, which you can watch below:

 

First, covering the matter of extra-judicial killings and addressing it as such in the episode suddenly made me uncomfortable, given the recent happenings in the country. So far, I have voted for the death of each person that has been tried! And I don’t know if the people who’ve been voting have noticed this, but using actual audience votes is a pretty ingenious move. I’m now left wondering if this makes me as bad as the cops that killed the lawyer, his client and their driver; after all, it is outside the law. In the end, I’m also wondering about my motives! Is it that I like seeing people being punished? Is justice really being served by this? In each case, the evidence has always been overwhelming, nonetheless this episode has made me very uncomfortable!
 
Second, every institution mentioned by the government spokesperson: the Ethic and Anti-Corruption Commission, the Director of Public Prosecution, and the Judiciary (throw in the implied Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission) have never had lower levels of trust from the public than right now and given the election coming up that terrifies me.
Third, and I feel like a bit of a dick in nit-picking this, but 5 episodes in and not one of them would pass the Bechdel test: featuring at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. I’m not sure if it’ll happen in the remaining episodes but I feel like this story has several opportunities to make this happen. And that is a missed opportunity. The story also does not have any female roles that seem more than supporting characters..
 
Finally that newscaster looked too gleeful announce their latest victim, use of this word reminds me of my first point, he clearly voted yes. I can tell 😂
 
I’m really really enjoying this series and I think everyone should be watching it not just for all the different questions it raises but also for the fantastic storytelling. I for one can’t wait to see how the vote rigging story with the army guys plays out. Peace!!!
P.S: This was also left as a comment on the video itself and then the Collective responded and we got into a conversation. Posting the responses below(with some light editing)
Nest Collective

First we must tell you that inhouse, we have polls going on our favourite comments every week, and this is SUCH a gem 🙂. We are always so honoured when people take the time to share what our work is making them feel or think, and honest, knowledgeable, incisive critiques like these are like gold in this industry.

We see exactly what you mean re: feeling mixed up, and re the lack of trust in government institutions. It makes us wonder if public trust matters to the people that should ideally need it, and what changed so drastically and so alarmingly.

Re the Bechdel test – you are very much right 😀 at least so far, and no, you’re neither a dick nor nitpicky! The Bechdel test for us is one – very valid – way to get a diversity of numbers of women on a screen and topics, but not necessarily the rich complexity of women’s lives, opinions, decisions and realities. Legally Blonde, for instance, is able to pass it because there was a conversation about dogs. A film that is heavily misogynistic can also pass it on a technicality, which is quite a large loophole. There’s a little more about that here –http://www.thescrippsvoice.com/…/why-the-bechdel-test…
– and all these opinions are arguable, but that for us is an excellent and timely debate. We would like to know from you what the missed opportunities you saw were?

And again – thank you: for enjoying the series, for allowing it to make you uncomfortable, and for engaging this deeply. We’re really honoured.

Me

Oh shit!! You replied!!! I’m inordinately excited about this. Consider me schooled on the Bechdel test, this is why you guys are the artists and I’m watching and commenting from home(well the office this time).

I think what I was trying to express in bringing this up was feeling like women have seemly tertiary roles so far but could have had much more central roles. For example my favourite arc in the series right now is the soldiers who found out about vote rigging, the soldiers could have been ladies. Or maybe the lead pursuing cop a lady.

I know nothing about filming so I don’t know if this makes sense. I only brought it up because I was thinking about it at the end of this episode. Still feeling nitpicky.

Nest Collective

The watchers and commenters from home are who artists make for, and y’all are incredibly powerful. If we were on TV and you hated us, it’s the ratings that would make us go home (and with us, the entire cast and crew), get us picked up for another season, or make or break careers. Also, the interactions the watchers have with the work gives it an entirely different set of themes to interact with than the creators could have envisioned. For instance with Scandal, the main theme of the marketing was race and power and a black woman having such depths of political influence, but the audience of Scandal really started discussing interracial relationships, marriage, extra-marital affairs and the shifting moralities around all those things very deeply.

We see your point. Part of our process was delving very deliberately into what the options for every character were, including gender and what that would mean for them and for the story. So with literally every character there was an alternate storyboard with them as the other gender (with respect to gender non-conforming people, trans persons, and people who identify with several, third/other or no gender.) So for everyone to end up as who they were was because that combination made our plot – with all necessary adjustments – work. Some characters started out in preliminary drafts as one gender and then became another by the shooting script. Having the conversations in the barracks, perhaps, would have been rather tricky with female soldiers and a male Biko. But definitely we considered a female Salat, etc. And thank you for saying that’s your favourite arc – it’s one of ours as well!

It’s not nitpicky to point it out – and re: film – it’s one way of storytelling, and storytelling is a deeply human function. Some folks do it for their job, like we do. Others interact with it in different ways and places. So the logistics of film may feel a little foreign as at now for you, but every person knows a good story and what qualifies as a good story for them, whether it is scribbled on a toilet wall as graffiti or embroidered into a caftan or told in a series of tweets.

You’re really cool. 🙂
Guys this conversation has made me a life long Nest fan. In it I’ve gotten to know some of the thought process that goes into make this awesome web series’ story. The considerations and the trade offs. I learnt something new about the Bechdel test and it’s limitations in film. I really appreciated them recognising that everyone is a storyteller this is something that I tried to tell people when I was part of Spoken HeArt in campus, I was the only storyteller in the club. We all have our stories to tell it’s just that we don’t all know how to do it in a way that engages people. There’s a technology angle to all this that I want to explore in a future post. Hope y’all will be back for that one. Peace!!!

Written by Sidney Ochieng

Child at heart and mind. Feminist. Story teller. Fledgling data scientist. Your future boss

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