Once upon a time entertainers – actors and actresses inclusive were regarded as societal dregs. They were seen by the majority of the general public as people without a future who were condemned to a life of penury despite the fame that they got. Even in the time of the legendary William Shakespeare, artistes were dependent on patrons for their survival. The greatest playwright of all times – Shakespeare wasn’t also exempted.
Times have indeed changed no thanks to the social media and a paradigmatic shift in the mindset of artistes and their promoters. Entertainers are now among the richest people in the world. The richest woman in the United Kingdom is J.K. Rowling, the author of Harry Potter who is even richer than the Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II.
With the wealth naturally comes influence and mass followers which were attenuated by the social media where they have huge following on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well as YouTube which are the most popular in Nigeria. Many of these celebrities are also endorsed by brands as the latter use them to reach out to their fan base which translates into more profits for them.
Edo born Yoruba actress Mercy Aigbe was in the news recently when she said that side chics dating married men should use them to cash out.
This got many tongues wagging on social media as her advice is tragically reflective of the state of affairs of most marriages in Nollywood where they crash as they cannot stand the test of time. Mercy Aigbe herself has been through two divorces and so her critics contended that they weren’t surprised at her latest piece of advice.
Her advice is rather sinister as it promotes infidelity in marriages and the reduction of young girls into mere chattels which has the side effect of greatly reducing their self esteem since they bring nothing to the table other than their vaginas. Why should young girls be encouraged to go into relationships with married men in the first place? Why shouldn’t that act be condemned? Will Aigbe be happy if her daughter frolics with a married man? What happens to fidelity within the confines of Holy Matrimony? Why can’t Aigbe use her star power to discourage young, impressionable girls from selling their bodies to married men? What goes around comes around – will these young girls be happy as wives if their men cheat on them with some sweet sixteen? What is sauce for the goose should equally be sauce for the gander.
Young girls learn very fast especially in this age of the new media. These followers of Aigbe will definitely be tempted to heed her advice and will see any married man who comes their way as a potential automated teller machine.
This encourages a surreptitious form of prostitution as the only thing these girls will think they have to offer any married man who comes their way is their bodies.
We live in a fast paced world where things change within the speed of light. How will these girls be wired to compete with their counterparts from around the globe in a world flattened by globalization when the only thing they have to offer is their bodies? What else do they bring to the table? The reality according to the current information driven age is that the competitor of an African is now a Caucasian based in a faraway country that the former may never have visited. Why can’t Aigbe encourage girls to be modern day clones of the likes of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Oby Ezekwesili, Mobola Johnson, Amina Mohammed etc? Why push these young minds to be mere bed warmers of randy and morally bankrupt men?
It is high time the society began to hold our celebrities to account. When Tiger Woods cheated on his wife and was exposed by some of the ladies he had liaisons with, he lost so many sponsorship deals and was left in the cold by many of the corporate bodies that saw him as their poster boy. In a sane society, the same should be the lot of Aigbe but alas we live in a highly hypocritical society where celebrities are seen as demi gods whose words and actions must not be questioned. Why can’t there be social media protests by the public? Why can’t the public call for a boycott of the brands she is the ambassador of? There must be some sanity in the way our celebrities influence the public. We shouldn’t condone bunkum in the name of celebrity influencing – there should be some level of sanctioning for the misdeeds of our so called celebrity entertainers. We cannot allow the next generation of leaders becomes morally bankrupt in the shallow name of influencing.
Enough is enough!
Tony Ademiluyi writes from Lagos