Social media has done many a good thing and also many a bad. It could be said that one of its key legacies is upselling expertise and the illusion of it. There’s a hot and lukewarm take for every event or incident. In the Nigerian context, not many things embody this more than Pulse’s Loose Talk podcast. Over the last 2 years, the trio of Osagie Alonge, Steve Dede and Ayomide Tayo have built for themselves a podcast which has become integral to the punditocracy of contemporary Nigerian popular culture. The interview with M.I Abaga last year inspired its own genre of takes. Their most recent addition to the hall of fame/shame comes in their response to the hanging out to dry session from Wizkid’s baby mama. In what comes across sometimes as a bit of a hatchet job, Mr. Alonge buoyed on by his colleagues took Wizkid to the cleaners referencing a range of allegations that have trailed the pop star through his career.
Another core tenet of today’s social media dynamics are the manner in which it distorts our perception of things. As a people, we’ve come to see ideas as being extensions of the people behind them and this comes to the fore daily. People like Chimamanda Adichie and Ozzy Etomi could deliver some of the most common sensical opinions and like clockwork, a mob will emerge condemning them. The problem lies not in their ideas but in their being the vessels of those ideas. It says a lot about who we are and the level of dissonance that goes into our reception of information. I make this point as a form of background for the uproar surrounding the words of Alonge and his crew. The name Loose Talk literally implies that a lot of shooting from the hip will entail and yet we still choose to tie ourselves in knots.
That said, it is important that in the uproar which followed over Mr. Alonge’s abrasive style, the merits of his comments have been underplayed. For one, a lot of the things he said are things which have been gossiped about by industry insiders for years. That doesn’t automatically render them true but it makes the blowback quite befuddling. Instead of focusing on Mr. Alonge’s delivery, why aren’t we asking questions about the vast majority of Wizkid’s drops this year being done under varying identities? Why aren’t we asking questions about Sarz’s lack of credit on One Dance? Why is it that an artist who has been in the spotlight for nearly a decade and dropped the label who put him on about 4 years ago has next to no memorable artist standing next to him? Let’s talk about it.
Yesterday, reports indicated that about 30 touts descended on the office of Pulse in a bid to address the things said on the now famous podcast episode and somehow, because the court of public opinion stood against the journalists it didn’t get the condemnation it deserved. Whilst there’s no indication to suggest this was done on Wizkid’s instruction, one must also recall that a couple of years back when he took offence to some of Linda Ikeji’s exclusives that portrayed him in less that negative light, his default response was to threaten her (which didn’t get the universal condemnation it deserved because it was Ms. Ikeji on the receiving end). Violence against Journalists and Media practitioners is something that should never be supported as it jeopardizes their role as a check and balance on society. There’s a clear process through which this anger can be channelled and it involves a court of law.