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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

My Paris piece

Talking about leveraging celebrity. It all really started with Diana whose sons honoured her in a 10th remembrance concert at Wembley last Sunday. She was the first to walk that thin ice of romancing the cameras for good or otherwise. She used her royalty, beauty, charisma and battles to bring attention to a range of issues in countries far removed from her own existence. No matter what the critics say Diana forced the world to look at the poor, the weak, the ill and the forgotten with her star power. She was the forerunner for the sleuth of celebrity messiahs (granted some confused, some manipulative) who are forcing the conversations on global poverty eradication into the mainstream. For this l admire her even in death, however how pray tell did the world go from Diana to Paris? I join the rest of "responsible" media who have had to apologise for talking about that blonde but by gosh how could a girl so blessed (beauty, fortune and charisma) unleash such mindlessness on the world?

I know that if she had gone to Stanford and lead the stem cell research the world might just have ignored her and l have no problem with a bit a "badness" in any human (deeply suspicious of the pious l am) but now that she has such power why oh why can she not be persuaded to abandon the dizzy, stupid inane ness (did you see her on Larry and did you read Larry's body language)?) of her existence? I would be more inclined to shrug it all off especially as l hate to sound sanctimonious and enjoy a bit of voyeurism myself but as l see an increasing number of young girls adopt the limp pose, little stupid voice and incoherent utterances of a white multi millionaire heiress media darling from a world where the rule of law protects you from abuse in a country like Nigeria. We cannot get away from the Paris phenomenon l know but can her handlers please find her a cause to distract her and help young impressionable gals see another side of life?


Anonymous said...

Funmi, lets not forget that Paris works for a living. Yes, her job may be partying and clubbing but its a job nonetheless. She does not sell herself to old men to get the money she uses to go shopping and travelling, unlike many of our so called celebrities here. Charity begins at home, so why dont you tackle the 'big girl/big prostitute' syndrome in Nigeria first, or is it too close for comfort? Its high time we started being truthful to ourselves. I'll take the heiress anyday over the free women posing as society girls over here.

Abimars said...

I do not agree with anonymous (first comment) although I thought the Larry interview was hilarious especially when he asked her for her favourite bible verse lol.I never took any notice of Paris untill the jail drama, but I feel that even with all the glamour, money and parties she may just be a sad lonely girl trying to find happiness in whichever way she can and I actually feel sorry for her.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Paris is better than the society prostitutes in Nigeria. anonymous, thank you ojare!

Afolabi said...

hmm..wow this is such a good piece, all your posts are intelligently written. Naija Oprah(I don't like to compare us to them, though) for shizzle.

Anonymous said...

what the heck!
we're talking about her influence on young impressionable girls and the media's obsession with her.
Hey Fummi,
Where u dey o

7 said...

I do think anon is comparing apples and oranges really.

1. Even with all her wealth, Paris did not hit mainstream media till her sex video was unveiled. She is now using the 15 secs of fame it generated.
2. I am in no way excusing the behavior of the so called big girl/big prostitute phenomenon, but...deny it as much as we like in Nigeria, most, a lot in fact, of these girls were initiated into sex at early ages via molestation/abuse. They have no respect for their bodies because they have no sense of self, no self-love. Searching for love in the wrong places to fill the void within. That issue needs to be addressed instead of finger-pointing!

Anonymous said...

the big girl/big prostitute syndrome is not only in nigeria. paris in particular is known as one, several of her videos are floating online here (you can visit x17online.com for pics). Yes, she sells herself for money, she was infact duped and later blackmailed by some guy claiming to be rich but was not. And she is not as rich as claimed, the press here touts she "might" be worth millions, with many people forgetting the millions. yes, she works hard but I felt the coverage was ridiculous.

A lady in Ohio pregnant with a child was killed by her husband, an Ohio cop. coverage of this news was relegated to the background as soon as news broke out about Paris' release.

this is America, sensationalism makes the news coverage. same day, paris was released, several U.S. soldiers died in Irag. there is no sign of change in the horizon as to what news coverage should be and it is very sad. several people that travel to Europe complain about the stark difference between coverage of the iraq war here and europe.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous - are you sure Paris is so superior to our women who prostitute themselves to get their hands on the stuff they think makes them relevant? You may recall her acting debut, having sex on the internet... deliberate? Maybe not, but she has certainly cashed in on her notoriety since. Swopping one rich Greek boy for a mega bucks rap star, boasting to the media about how rich she is while dissing her "poorer" rivals does not seem that far removed from some of our homegrown laydeez. Not that I am judging Paris for her lifestyle, per se, just pointing out that the "money for hand, back for ground" mindset is no respecter of borders or background.

Anonymous said...

and i will roger that! how certain kinds think they have the moral right to judge the hiltons of our world just baffles me. it must be the years of successful hypocrisy. before long all kind of clueless people will charge in here on white horses to save the princess under attack. then people like you and me will shake our heads in pity and say yet again: ignorance really is bliss.

lolaojiks said...

Same goes for Victoria Beckham. To have such fame and fortune and yet seek nothing but attention is so sad.

I watched the Diana concert too and was almost in tears whenever they talked about all the lives she touched.

She was a truly beautiful person in and out.

Unknown said...

Paris, the Hilton! Its all in the power of genius BRANDING (seasoned with loads of luck and Peerless PR) , ask the boys at Coca Cola. All other factors/qualites (blondy, beauty, seemingly bawd-headed bimbo, heiress, SKINNY, avant-garde Name) take 'secondary' backseats, although still play huge roles in the overall (Paris Hilton) gag, the one the media relentlessly sells to the world, the and yes Ms fee, you've just bought it.

Anonymous said...

...what I have been muttering under my breath for the past 5 weeks when I watch tv (I live in Toronto) "Oh God, kill the bitch,blind the bitch"lol. Yesterday, my husband got back from the drug store with her on the cover of People for me.Arghhh! can i not escape this phenomenon called Paris? I do not, not like the girl, but i question a society where grown soccermoms cried when she was on the View. I think the west is mostly over stimulated and comfortable.
@Anon- big girls;some are lazy, some are sly, some are greedy, some are just trying to survive, some are "training" their 7-9 younger sibligs their irresponsible parents had.
if men do not support these women do you not think they will find somethig else to earn a living from? Mind you, a lot of them have a job/business.
BTW, if this issue is a pet peeve of yours, I suggest you start a blog.

Funmi Iyanda said...

@afolabi, you know what? l hate that comaparison too and have only been persuaded to leave it because l was told it helps people outside of Nigeria put one in perspective. Today l will have it edited out. the best career advice l ever got 12 years ago was from Amb. Segun Olusola who said in reply to my wish to be Barbara Walters of Nigeria 'you with your longish name and longish self will be no barbara but the funmi iyanda of africa".

@all, l read anonymous 1 a lil perplexed, then amused, then deeply angry. As all these years on my job has taught me l decided not to react when angry. Perhaps l am misconcruing the comment, further light will come with comments of others. In clear morning light these are my thoughts
a. yes it is comparing apples and oranges and others have put the issues into better perspective with their comments
b.l am sick and tired of our tendency to judge the entirety of Nigerian womanhood by the reality of a few women. The majority of Nigerian women of all ages are god fearing, hard working,resourceful and beautiful inclusive of the so called celebrities. In talking about Paris l did not extend it to all American women or American celebrities. There are women, some of them celebritis wo do these things but they are insignificant compared to the larger majority of Nigerian women.
c. the issue of prostitution, psuedo prostitution, aristo, 419, cultism and such have benefited from our usual mass hyteria about the symptons as against the subsatnce. The Nigerian media sensationalizes these and we hiding under intellectual athropy throw stones. Why are women without defined job descriptions celebrities in Nigeria? Are the men any better? If the situation was reversed would it not be true of men too. Are all men criminals because some anaigerian men are 419ners? So does it not point to deeper non gender issues?
d. why does this society prepare its women to be powerless and them turn around to castigate them when the results of powerlessness mushroom?
e. just in case anonymous is suggesting l am any such woman, l will tell him/her this, l am no big girl, it is an odious title given by magazines who refuses to ask intelligent questions of women for which l stopped granting interviews. Only twice has such untruths been written about me, one is still in court, both journalists (one did call to apologize) who wrote the stories are dead, l did not wish them death although they hurt me terribly but evil returns to the sender sooner or later.

@sherri, yes babe l am here and as a true Nigerian woman who has pulled herself out of excruciating poverty and tragedy and who like millions of her kind still daily struggles to get equal recognition and pay for harder work l am here and l can handle myself. I can fight my own wars same as all those wonderful women before me, sash around my waist, breast heaving, pestle wielding ;-)

Anonymous said...

Funmi, this is anonymous (first comment) and i want to say that i was totally shocked that you posted my comments. In fact, that made me realise that you are a genuine person. I also really appreciate your comments on this issue. I think you are right - there is a tendency to prejudge people based on what one sees in the media etc, which is wrong. I also agree that the mdeia has a huge role to play in terms of who they promote as role models and for the record, i dont think Paris is a good role model for women. I apologise if my comment came accross as rude and wish you the best on your blog - i love it and its fantastic. Thanks.

Ms. Catwalq said...

as someone who resides in the US, a country where the average joe relies on the tv for their education, it is no wonder that they are slightly dumb for all the free education and opportunities available to them.

paris is paid by millions to be dumb and they pay by continuing to dwell on her silliness and air headedness

simplykenny said...

@ Afolabi, i completely disagree with u calling Funmi our 9ja Oprah, atleast she has respect for the african culture and has never blacklisted any country in her comments and TV shows unlike our so - called African-American Oprah who decided to make 9ja a topic of bad discussion in her show.i just hope the Nigerian Got will make her apologise for calling every typical Nigerian a "419er".
As for America's most loved heiress(paris)-atleast she has dignity compared to our high society ladies!

Funmi Iyanda said...

@anonymous 1, you do indeed have a good heart and l too apologize for coming down hard on you. The way the press misrepresnts me hurts deeply but l will not pay for good press and cannot force them to ask intelligent questions of me and other women, what l am doing is working with younger ambitious women coming into the media to learn the skills and mindset to take control of more apects of the media and present a more balanced view of women generally. Big hug.

simplykenny said...

@funmi iyanda,thats the spirit of sportmanship - taking an apology and at the same time extending one,thumbs up babe.
@lolaojiks,think i know u.did u go to UNILAG and is it the same OJIKUTU? its so nice knowing u visit funmi's blog

7 said...

To anon 1: This is an area more people (including moi) need to work on....apologizing when wrong! It is such a freeing act. Kudos to ya.

Anonymous said...

Great to comment on the way Diana touched people's lives etc... but a little bit of cynicism would not be too bad at this point. She did not start her good deeds, and touching people's lives until she was divorced. A person who doesnt need to earn a living might as well do other things apart from change boyfriends.

I once told a friend once that Paris Hilton is either incredibly smart or incredibly stupid. Whichever one it is one cannot deny that she is making a load of money from being seen as stupid. If a person makes money from our deep-seated voyeurism who is to blame?

As for our Nigerian girls who are imitating Miss Hilton... well, Oye lo ma kilo f'oni tobi.