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Esco: Please Don’t Kill My Vibe

Esco

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Being a public figure in Nigeria requires one to be thick-skinned. Like bokoto that just would not go tender when the heat is on. A life of celebrity in our dear country is a calling for those who strongly desire fame, adulation and fortune, above the scrutiny and invasion it brings.

Trolls (see definition below) have been winding up celebrities, since the days of Mungo Park. Let us start with 1995.  Video jockeys Keke-Kenny and D-One used to host a music request call-in program on Raypower. This was during the “It is a Fubu, mehn” era.

A listener called in, garnishing the hosts with faint praise “I like your show. You two remind me of my two favorite American acts…”

“Thank you o. Which ones?” Keke inquired, with a prodding eagerness in his voice.

“Beavis and Butthead!!”

The radio duo retaliated with curses on the mischevious caller, and then cut him off, as the program went to paid adverts.

Years later, there was a night-time movie program on DBN TV channel called “Night-Shift”, where callers could nominate a movie out of a line-up which was then aired based on votes. It was a very popular program, as the movies showed were new box-office hits, and it was either that or a struggle to find that movie to rent at Video-Mart. Some new blockbuster movies required “man-know-man” connections before you could locate them for rent. So the “Night Shift” was a welcome alternative.

Two different presenters alternated hosting responsibilities – a pretty dark-skinned lady named Eva, along with a showman type dude called Galilee.

Some mischievous callers made Eva and Galilee’s work hellish.

One criticized Galilee’s ankara shirt, and safari suit fashion choices on live TV, causing him switch to up the next day. He looked crestfallen the next day.

Another caller tried to chat up Eva on live TV too, by telling her she was kinda cute and asking for her phone number.

Then another day, a caller phoned in. He was trying to get fresh with Eva, but she stayed professional, and started outlining the choice of movies: “We have a nice line up today. You have a choice to vote for one of the following movies: Armageddon, Con Air, Face/Off, Air Force One, Enemy of the State. Make your choice..”

The caller’s choice was exact “You.”

Trolling in the context I am speaking about is sending a barb in a public forum to a public figure, with the intention to ridicule, humiliate or draw the subject into an unsavory reaction. Some trolls get a kick out of getting a rise out of celebs. These days, it is more usual on the internet, and is a virtual form of winching someone. It is the physical equivalent of poking an animal at rest with an electric prod. Unwell-wishers from your village send otumokpo, or jazz your way if they are not pleased with your stature in life.  Trolls send an electric electronic comment to your Instagram page or a Tweet fit for a twat.

Trolls used to do it in person, back in the day. I was once a show at Lagbaja’s Motherland at Opebi Ikeja where comedians were performing. One guy from the crowd tried to heckle Ali Baba, the grand guru of Nigerian stand-up comedy when he came on stage, by yelling “Baba, abeg go chop shit jare! You no funny!”

Babanla mistake of life. Ali Baba faced him squarely, and finished him with yabs. The heckler was soon moved to tears, and even the crowd pleaded on his behalf, like “Ali , e don do, abeg leave am” I muttered under my breath “Ali bomaye”

With advent of online forums, the widespread use of the Internet, and the popularity of smart phones (which makes some people do un-smart things), almost anyone has access to online media content. At the drop of a hat. Or at the re-charge of a phone. The flipside of that is that everyone is seeing everyone, everywhere and in every way. Celebrities or those in the public eyes are just one “iPhone send-button” away from a reducer, an insult or unwarranted criticism from viewers operating under the cloak of anonymity or from a social media account created just for that sole purpose. Sometimes an amebo who knows the celebrity personally may choose to reveal their life-story on a social forum even though the celeb has not appointed anyone to commission an official biography. And boy do we lap it up. Stories of alleged runs-girlism, or adulterous rumps or bankruptcy are shared about the public figure, some of which are frivolous at best.

Anyone with WiFi connection could tell you what Buhari wore last week, or how many Boko Haram fundamentalists were slain in a counter-attack by the Nigerian Army, or where Tiwa did her baby shower, and the amount of grains in each sachet of the Koko Garri D’Banj launched last year, You get the feeling that some people set out to trip up those in the public eye. It is a sport, and you need not show your face.

And celebs react in different ways. Some face their detractors head on, like Sallah rams at war. Some ignore the trollish behavior. Some seem to court it, as infamy is still a form of fame. Like the fire needs the air, I won’t burn unless you are there.

A certain mixed-race TV presenter whose first name rhymes with Oleku, has to be the most dignified celeb in Nigeria. Oleku put up a photo of herself on Instagram and one abuser criticized she had no breast and no bakassi. Her response was dignified like “Really bruv?” It was uncalled for – just like flashing someone

Other celebs react like a cornered catfish if you drop a bad comment on their social media page. One famous video vixen whose first name rhymes with Sunita really dishes it back immediately with blind fury like a blindsided buffalo. Like, your papa! She does not hesitate to decend into the arena if a follower tries to come at her sideways.

If it is a criticism of their professional work, then maybe it is fair enough and should be aimed at them at their area of operation ie a stage, football pitch etc. If for example leave a comment on his Instagram page that, Dr Sid’s “Chop Ogbono” tune has no draw (no pun intended), is that taking it too far?  On the flipside, if you complain about the way Davido screws his face up when singing, like he is trying to extract juice from a dry orange, is that a legit criticism of his craft, or does that go too far? Is a celeb fair game for any kind of verbal attack, since it is part and parcel of their profession? Personally I feel it is putting bad karma out there.

Maybe it is best to have a therapy session in the comments, where we let it all out for all posterity.

No matter who you be, dem must to talk about you/
Dem go sit down for corner just dey dissect you/
They analyze you/
Some of them go criticize you/
Some of them go idolize you/

M.I. featuring 2face Idibia (Nobody, 2010)

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Atholpady 

Fellow Nigerians, it is with the utmost pride and sincerity that I present these memoranda as a living testament and recollection of history in the making during our generation.Preamble: Esco is a lampoonist, content provider for hire, and convener of the blog Literati: Satires On Nigerian Life www.woahnigeria.wordpress.com, which is a symposium to project the conditions of every Nigerian and inspire young people all over the world. He is currently working on his memoirs “The Great, Wonderful Adventures of Esco”, which will be available in 2016. Esco can be reached for scripting writing, ghost writing and editing work by email at [email protected] Oh, and he occasionally tweets at @Escowoah.

15 Comments

  1. livingstone

    September 25, 2015 at 11:10 am

    true

  2. Smackdown

    September 25, 2015 at 11:24 am

    Celebrities worldwide face scrutiny, it’s the price of fame.

  3. Nahum

    September 25, 2015 at 11:45 am

    All the Toke trolls on this blog should get in here for their therapy session. We need to dissect your hate. *Jide*

    • FasholasLover

      September 25, 2015 at 2:15 pm

      Hahahaha, You remember Jide? This Jide and Toke have something going that the rest of us are unaware of……

  4. iyke

    September 25, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    I don’t bully but sometimes I laugh at some of the online comments that people spew.So epic – like saying that Eniola Badmus looks like Salah Ram with her nose ring on her way to the AMAA award….(I actually went to check the picture and saw some resemblance with Ram) and also that Sean tizzle look like a turtle……choi..Nigerians get bad mouth shaa
    Bikonu,October is national bullying prevention month – make we try stop am ooo!
    Nice one Esco!

    • Nice One.

      September 25, 2015 at 3:21 pm

      Funny how you stylishly passed on the message. Nice one :).

  5. nikky

    September 25, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    I remember night shift on DBN. I use to cringe on those rare occasions assholes called in. The worse thing anyone can do is try heckling a comedian. That’s just straight up giving them material, honestly nothing inspires them more.
    Public figures are fair game for criticism, unsolicited opinions and advice. That’s why people will tell OC Ukeje and his wife how they should live or not live in their marriage or Toke I can’t even get into that one. Those folks that just live to viciously tear people down online (aka trolls) are not human as far as I’m concerned. The comment section on yahoo makes me weep for humanity.
    I’m absolutely down for criticizing people’s work especially artists and public officials. Davido’s face I part of his package nd it should be criticized.

  6. Anonymous

    September 25, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    “to switch” . . “for posterity” . .

  7. Fairy Godsister

    September 25, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    I don’t know what I enjoyed more, the article, or the brilliant word play in the article. Really nice. Will visit your blog.

  8. Lol

    September 25, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    ‘It’s a fubu mehn’had me rolling, those guys couldn’t fake an American accent to save their lives

  9. nunulicious

    September 26, 2015 at 11:14 am

    its territorial! If you’re in the entertainment industry, you’re there for OUR entertainment.
    Let’s face it, those trolls are entertaining and their comments and the response they generate serve as a minuscule distraction from the humdrum of our everyday lives. They also allow us to live vicariously (how many times have you desired the skill of their verbal wit),

    They also allow we mere mortals view the depravity and diversity of the human mind.
    And at times their comments are downright hilarious! the other day for instance, someone commented that cynthia morgan’s nose ring keeps reminding her of the cow in cowbell “our milk” advert.

  10. Ephi

    September 26, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    Def enjoyed reading this.
    I feel social media has brought out the monsters in a lot of people forgetting that one day we shall all be held accountable for all the words we speak

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      September 26, 2015 at 9:21 pm

      Do you understand?? We’re becoming more and more unspeakably vile and awful creatures & the worst thing about social media is a lot of pussies (pardon my French…. Or not, actually, since I’m literally speaking about the scarediest of scaredy cats) just spew the foolishness they’re too damn terrified to say to the faces of the ones they’re attacking, if we could only give them that prime opportunity in real life. Often times, you read the comment section and wonder at the meanness of the human heart. Plus and in my opinion, there’s surely a very strong connection between that attitude and the very evident lack of self-fulfilment and actualisation suffered by too many individuals which has become very palpable in our vain, unfeeling generation.

      So… do we say these things because we’re displeased by what we see staring back at us in the mirror and therefore prefer to reach instead for the warm consolation of destroying someone else’s esteem with our snideness? Are we truly better for exposing our nastiness from behind this wonderful cloak called online anonymity or do we still go to bed at the end of each night emptier than when we started the preceding morning?? Too many disturbed souls out there but we all have a choice at the end of the day, about the type of people we would rather be.

    • TheRealErnieMac

      September 28, 2015 at 9:53 pm

      i loved reading your response….your sentence construction is fantastic,like music to my ears and you paint the picture you spoke about brilliantly….great job!!!

  11. cq

    December 15, 2015 at 3:43 am

    it the price of been famous ,those who aiint famous also face things like that people always look for flaws even in people you personally think are perfect ,to some people it like fun ,to some it their hobby to ridicule people and they cant just stop.

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