Satire is not for everybody and only a few will get it. It is used to expose a foolishness of a topic. Sadly, not everybody gets it.
How many times have you heard a Nigerian comedian say at the end of a joke, ‘Na joke o!’? More than a few, I dare say; and it’s quite understandable: the Nigerian audience can take things literally, forcing comics for whom everything should be fair play to apologize for being funny. Nigerians have to be told a joke is a joke, lest they be offended. For a people whose sense of humour is said to be high, it’s confusing when certain obvious jokes fly completely over our heads.
Yesterday my colleague at 234Star Njideka ‘Enjay’ Akabogu published a piece that ‘blamed Lola Omotayo for the Psquare fight’. Oh she didn’t make that up: there are thousands of Psquare fans who believe that she’s the cause of whatever rancour could be between the twins. What’s more, Paul Okoye sent a glaring message to ‘the wife that came to destroy brothers’. Several people flooded the woman’s social media pages to accuse her of being a witch. It became a topic that people debated heatedly on Twitter. Not one person knew for sure what Messers Okoye were fighting over but they all had the wisdom to determine a woman’s role in all of it.
The absurdity of it all is hilarious. The 234Star piece laughed at the senselessness of it all by exaggerating what these people were accusing Lola of. It mocked those who disliked her because she was older and Yoruba. Like Enjay wrote, the twins are close to 40 years old but still need to be told what to do by a wife. Yeah right!
But beyond the obvious sarcasm, it underscored the dangerous Nigerian custom of blaming the woman for everything. If a man cheats on his wife, it must be the wife’s fault. She must not have been caring. She must have lost shape. When a she cheats on her husband, she’s a whore that must be stoned to death at the market square. There really is no winning for the Nigerian woman. She is a witch, a black jezebel, pure Ayamatanga.
Of course, a lot of people didn’t get it and like Nigerians often do, came rushing in with righteous indignation. For some, it strengthened their belief that indeed Lola Omotayo was responsible for the Psquare crisis. For a lot more people, the piece was trash and the writer should be ashamed of herself. The worst of them all are the folks who only read the headline and reacted to it. It was clear that many of them didn’t read beyond the 160 characters of the Twitter feed and an abridged note on Instagram.
You people are actually incredibly stupid for this headline and whatever cow dung is in this article. https://t.co/cDxlEdN2WC
— Aniello Dellacroce (@Cerebrone) September 26, 2017
Virtual histrionics should not faze any media house and it certainly doesn’t bother this one. Misplaced anger by self appointed guardians of the media realm is feedback for the writer and her platform. Everybody will be fine last last.
However it shows how much the Nigerian audience still needs to grow. Satire is not for everybody and only a few will get it. It is used to expose a foolishness of a topic. Its irony is supposed to show the ridiculousness of a subject. Some of the greatest artists in the world deployed it to convey their points. Shakespeare did, Fela did, Orwell did and Jay Z does it. You Can Tell Them I Said It by Eddie Griffin remains a masterclass for anyone that needs to understand how sarcasm and satire work.
A true artist does not need to explain their art. Enjay doesn’t and she hasn’t. The arguments are still going on in our various comment sections. But the reactions are quite instructive for me, as a lover of the arts. Intelligent jokes are complex for some people. It’s why our music and art are slapstick. The most successful artistes right now are not necessarily the most intellectually stimulating.
Like Sway I ain’t got the answers. I don’t know how to make people understand entertainment content. I don’t know why the internet reacts which so much vitriol as it does.
What I do know, is that while angry reactions themselves are entertaining, kill the messenger by all means but do not forget the message: the Nigerian woman is an endangered species, one who gets blamed for all the wrongs in the world.
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