by Olalekan Olanrewaju
Last weekend once again saw people leave their homes and traverse in droves to buildings where they would meet and share space with other human beings who had once again come to reacquaint themselves with a saviour. This saviour who left his home world, and his real father to come to our planet where he would grow up under the tutelage of the man who would take him in as his own despite the strange – to say the least – circumstances surrounding his arrival on earth, before he would fulfill his destiny to save mankind.
Yes, Superman returned to the theatre this weekend and saved mankind, leaving in his wake the debris of box office records that resulted from the $125million raked in from screenings over the weekend. Perhaps it was for the best then that another small movie released this weekend, was only given a limited rollout in 5 theatres across America, as it could not possibly have hoped to compete with the Son of Krypton’s return to the big screen. That little movie, of course, was Sofia Coppolla’s The Bling Ring. The film is Coppolla’s 5th, and the latest in the line of projects many dismiss as a self-indulgent look into the lives of the privileged by someone who might be a little too privileged herself. Beyond that, however, if a film which aims to capture the zeitgeist in a . The based-on-real-life-events-but-slightly-fictionalized flick follows a group of Los Angeles based teenagers who made headlines in 2010 for stealing $3million worth of items from the homes of celebrities like Paris Hilton and Orlando Bloom and others the culprits suspected (rightfully) were “stupid enough to leave their doors unlocked.” It’s a commentary on fame, wealth and wanting just for the sake of wanting. It’s about a descent into a certain kind of state, something which could be physically represented by a glassy-eyed doll, perhaps, where people obsess over things simply because they are available to be obsessed over, and not even because they are pretty or fashionable or anything of the sort. It’s not the type of thing you’d see in a Nollywood movie, unfortunately (this is in no way an indictment of the Nigerian film industry, by the way) However the fact it was released a thousand (or, if you want to be geographically accurate, 5510.8) miles away only makes its relevance here only more interesting.
On Friday Don Jazzy (or Don Baba J, you know, if you’re feeling friendly like that) was nice (or narcissistic, depending on who you’re listening to) enough to share a picture of a gift (well, “honour,” in his own words) with his Instagram followers.
No, that isn’t just any old bottle of champagne; it just happens to be the most expensive bottle of champagne in the world today, created by Alexander Amosu (no stranger to luxury brands) and called, humbly, Taste of Diamonds. Needless to say, to anyone familiar with Nigerians cyberspace, anyway, the photo created something of an uproar. On the one side there was the mindless sycophantism from that sect of population that’s been trained to worship any display of what they believe affluence to be. On the other hand there were the calls to arms from those who would say Don Jazzy should practice the art of abnegation and “give to charity.” Of course anyone who pays attention to Don Jazzy knows he’s so versed in the art of giving to the public that he’s been accused of doing it all for attention or to turn the public against D’Banj or –insert any conspiracy theory of your choice here – but that’s just by the way. To be fair, at £1.2 million, the bottle is pretty harsh on the wallet and would make anyone raise an eyebrow. But on the flip side one wonders if it is enough to warrant reactions as passionate as it’s been getting. And the answer is, it isn’t. Or maybe it is; not because it’s the most expensive in the world, or even because it’s expensive at all, but simply because of the status of the man on whose Instagram page it appeared. The cries about all the “starving children” the money the bottle of champagne is worth could feed say less about any possible compassion overcoming the populace and are more symptomatic of the need to react to anything a celebrity does. To put it simply, Don Jazzy doesn’t owe anyone an explanation (and thankfully he doesn’t appear to be offering one) for what he spends his money on, or whatever gifts he receives; but are people demanding that explanation, doing so because they even believe he owes it to them at all or because that’s just how they find themselves reacting this time?
More than anything, what’s telling about this is that it isn’t the first “bottle” and it most certainly will not be the last. There’s going to be another bottle, from another Don Jazzy, and there will be more people trying to relate it to D’Banj, more people fawning over it simply because it’s there to be fawned over and not because they give the slightest of a care about it; more people damning him to hell for depriving all those poor children of breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and anything else that could be bought with £1.2 million. Chances are the ones cursing Don Jazzy for daring to accept this bottle will praise someone else for another bottle (or car, or house, or…you get the picture). Or maybe we’ll find that members of the side who want to devote their lives to praising and worshiping bottles will develop a conscience and start to care about the starving children. Perhaps. But what will remain unlikely are the chances of very many people stopping to consider what their reactions are, and why those reactions are what they are. The reactions that glassy-eyed dolls are designed to give when pressed at strategic points will only become more knee-jerk in nature, and the world will eventually explode. Okay, maybe that last part is a bit of a stretch – whenever it happens it certainly won’t be a result of a celebrity posting a photo on Instagram anyway. At least there’s nothing to point to that –but culture is heading for something. What that something is, exactly, might be a bit unclear, but till we get there, we have little choice but to sit back, watch, and continue to react.