By Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo
In the past, the severest form of backlash any musician would endure is a mundane criticism on how sub-standard a song, album or live performance was. If an artiste would be subjected to any sort of insult from a fan, then it would most likely be as a result of that artiste not showing up for a concert when he/she has been billed to perform.
The situation has altered for the worse as we have progressed over the years as a creative industry with the exposure and proximity of artistes to fans taking such an interesting shift.
Over the weekend, Sarkodie and M.anifest, off the release of their new single, ‘Brown Paper Bag’, engaged in the discussion on Instagram and discussed an array of items concerning their respective careers and one stimulating issue came up; artistes and their subjection to insults by music fans.
Sarkodie had this to say; “In Ghana, I am one of the celebrities that gets insulted the most, no one comes close to me. They really go hard at me, left and right, but I understand that this is the industry that we are in and with this fan base thing, you can’t run away from that.”
Firstly, Sarkodie is not entirely correct when he talks about being one of the artistes in Ghana who gets insulted the most. Yes, he gets the insults but he is definitely not one of those who gets most of the flak from fans.
Clearly, Sarkodie has not taken time to check the time lines of some musicians who get the biggest share of insults every day. There’s no respite for some these artistes regardless of whatever they put on their social media platforms.
In fact, two of the most insulted high profile musicians in Ghana are Shatta Wale and Wendy Shay and there’s little dispute about this.
Sarkodie, on the other hand, falls in that category of celebrities in Ghana who are most loved. He is sometimes bombarded with invective from just two points – from folks from Shatta Movement and also from folks from the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), for the very obvious reasons.
For persons like Shatta Wale and Wendy Shay, the fact that they breathe and sneeze would elicit a barrage of insults from fans and observers.
Insults from Fan base
Sarkodie is right for one thing; most of the insults he takes come from an opposing fan base, SM and we all know the reason(s). If you are feuding with an equally big act like Shatta Wale, definitely, nothing you would do will impress his fan base, absolutely nothing.
Ideally, the respective fan bases for all these acts do more than subject other artistes to insults. Their core role has always been to support the works, projects and the brand positioning of their artistes and they have been doing well.
It is also a no-brainer to reckon that, when Shatta Wale enters into a feud with Sarkodie, he would expect any love from ‘SarkNation’ or vice versa. It won’t happen!
Candidly, Sarkodie’s admittance of how the fan bases operate gives an indication that he is also aware that his SarkNation band also subject others to insults. Any artiste, any critic or observer who doesn’t agree with Sarkodie’s stance or opinion is seen and treated as the ‘enemy’ and this canker prevails in all the camps for these acts.
While some would genuinely offer pointers in defending their artistes, other unscrupulous ones are just built for insults.
Beyond the fan base
The issue of trolls on the internet goes beyond any fan base. It is a dire situation that has killed some celebrities across the world.
Trolls are pests; they are simply built to cause agitation, worry and some form of unrest for the celebrity. They are the kind that deliberately start arguments on the internet with the aim of provoking an individual or group into a reaction.
They are mean, reckless and have a purpose: get under the skin of the target – the celebrity. They find amusement from another person’s anger. They wake up in the morning and trolling becomes their core job and yes, they do find solace in what they do.
Trolls come with an agenda – to intentionally pass inflammatory, rude, or upsetting statements online to elicit strong emotional responses in people or to steer the conversation off-topic. Most trolls do this for their own amusement, but other forms of trolling are done to push a specific agenda.
The Act of Fighting Back
In Sarkodie’s conversation, he talked about how he understands the terrain of musicians being at the receiving end of the angst of opposing fan base, so, he never responds to such attacks. Good decision!
Not all Ghanaian entertainers act like Sarkodie, they fight back and the likes of Lydia Forson, Nana Aba Anamoah, Wanluv, Sister Debbie and DKB among others have gained notoriety on the internet for their resolve and ability to fight back.
Why blame them? Sometimes, it makes sense to show the troll(s) that you can be as mean, rude and uncompromising just like them and it is only fitting that you present to them a little taste of their own medicine.
But the experts say, no, that’s not the way to go!
They describe defending yourself against online abuse as a “trap” because the troll is just looking for one thing – attention and a celebrity gives the troll that yearn for when they respond to them. They don’t want to ‘win’ or ‘lose’ an argument; they just want their ideas to be heard by as many potential converts as possible.
They want to be seen as that troll who got a response from a celeb, they want to be seen as that troll that got into a debate with the celeb. They find delight in seeing screenshots of their banter with a celeb. They love the attention.
Don’t Feed the Trolls
Trolls seek out emotional responses and find provocation amusing, so replying to them or attempting to debate them will only make them troll more. They need that fuel to do worse and responding to them is their fuel.
By ignoring a troll completely, they will likely become frustrated and go somewhere else on the internet.
Celebrities should try their best not to take anything trolls say seriously. No matter how poorly they behave, one should always remember that these people spend countless unproductive hours trying to make people mad.
As tempting as it is to respond to a troll, one should always resist the urge to respond, block them immediately if ignoring them doesn’t become an option anymore.
Being on social media and staying active and relevant is a necessity for the entertainer but your sanity counts more.