The Spud controversy


You wouldn’t think a humorous film based on the loony, real-life schoolboy antics at a posh school would lead to controversy but such is the case with the hit new South African film, Spud, based on John van de Ruit’s much loved bestseller of the same name.

According to, a letter that Justice Edwin Cameron of the Constitutional Court sent to Spud producer Ross Garland (and which ended up on a blog) last week accused some parts of the film as being “denigrating’ gays and lesbians.

Cameron objected to two scenes in particular; the first is where the teacher known as “The Guv’ (played by John Cleese) tells his class he has nothing against lesbians and would like to give them “a good rogering’.

The second scene is where the gay art teacher is seen coaching the school’s worst rugby team and tells his troops that “more pressure from the rear’ is needed.

Garland responded to Cameron’s letter by saying that this was the first time that the book and film have been accused of being homophobic and that he didn’t understand how Cameron came to this opinion. He pointed out that the Spud is about a vulnerable young boy trying to overcome the rampant bullying and bigotry at his school in the early 1990s.

Further, Garland expressed concern that Cameron had shown disregard for free expression.


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