Following a rising trend of celebrity nudity, last weekend, Nollywood star Tonto Dike posted a clip on Instagram from a water park fun day with friends and family. At some point in the Instagram Reel clip, wearing a robe, she took a somersault. That somersault immediately sent shockwaves across the internet.
Famous gossip blog, GistLover said the somersault sent Nigerians into a “panic.” OloriSuperGal, a more celebrity friendly blog called it “unusual.”
Days before the Instagram post, Dike had announced to her 7.4 million Instagram followers that she was considering opening an OnlyFans account, a website popular with Twitter adult content creators. Dike wants to formalise celebrity nudity.
For some, it seemed like Dike had taken the Nigerian cyberspace to a new level of acceptable nudity from celebrities.
A few case examples
In February this year, a series of videos of 24-year-old Nigerian musician and Troniq Music signee Ikuforiji Olaitan, known as Oxlade, were leaked on social media revealing intimate clips of him.
In October last year, as Tiwa Savage was promoting her album, Water and Garri, she revealed during an interview that she was being blackmailed by someone who had gotten hold of intimate clips of her. The debate all week at the time was about the validity of her claim. Eventually, the clip was released on the internet.
Earlier, in 2020, serial entrepreneur, Toyin Lawani, known for her love of showing off her body received backlash for posting nudes again, but she changed the conversation when she wrote: “Do I look like I Give A sh*t? Your opinions still don’t put food on the table. Go Back to your international celebrities pages and continue your night and day worship there. if my work inspires you let it, if my body and me being comfortable in it doesn’t please you, you can suck my p***y.”
In the video of his song, ‘Heya’, musician, Brymo was naked, except a carefree covering for his manhood. That ‘concept’ caused a trend for several days.
For his album, ‘Naked’, Darey Art Alade went completely and his justification for it was ‘vulnerability, realness, and honesty’. As with other examples, his supporter’s club achieved a few more numbers.
The story of intimate videos of celebrities surfacing in public is not new. But Nigeria, over the years, has seemingly been insulated from that brand of celebrity culture until now. With social media and the availability of smartphones with high-end cameras, the vestiges of what used to be a distant culture have finally hit the shores of Nigeria, with the old guards that had defined public conduct in society fiercely being challenged.
On one hand, like in the case of Oxlade, worshippers of the patriarchal hegemony celebrated the arrival of his intimate videos on the internet as a victorious conquest; the man who devoured the woman – he was called the Spiderman. On the other hand, the e-feminism crusaders rallied behind Savage and Dike as women living their lives and making their own choices.
The new realities
Of course, the standards of chastity for men have always been different for women since time immemorial.
A good faith perspective pushing back against what some would consider to be misogyny felt needed to balance the scale. But that balancing has tilted a bit further to the left, into a threshold of a strange form of women owning their sexuality, that only lasts for as long as a hashtag can be sustained at the top of the Twitter trend table.
The reality offers a sharply different perspective.
The Washington Post columnist, Christine Emba, argues that the sex-positive movement that has led to this new world order of unfettered acceptance of celebrity nudity on social media has also “made people, especially women, miserable.”
“It’s created, ironically, new strictures and secret shames, at least in certain elite milieus, around ‘catching feelings,’ hating casual sex and having vanilla sexual tastes,” Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times’ The Argument podcast writes of the subject.
What this new order seeks is the annihilation of the old-world idea around nudity from the public consciousness – a redefinition and erasure of self-accountability as we have known it. Effectively arguing that the people who viewed nude clips of celebrities on the internet are just as responsible for the creation of the nude clip itself.
How has it been sustained?
Packaged and sold to relatively young Nigerians as a form of “modern Twitter feminism” and “hyper-masculinity,” this level of self commodification, the idea that any opportunity for an extra coin by selling versions of the self is good, has been the model that has made social media companies become highly influential media juggernauts.
As users do all that can be done to grow their following on the internet, including supporting and opposing hot takes of leaked celebrity nudity, it’s the social media companies that win.
The incentive of the internet, at least for a journey towards profitability on social media, compels users to jump on trends. This makes this trend of celebrity nudity acceptance on the internet self-perpetuating because users must remain relevant.
As we lower the standards, we blur the lines between ideals that hold the lines between the gutter and the pool and make everything one.
With this celebrity nudity trend, regardless of where one stands, all suffer as the internet becomes even more unsafe, especially for children.
Again, the only winners are the social media companies.
Get the best of Africa’s daily tech to your inbox – first thing every morning.
Join the community now!