Sunday, May 13, 2007

Seeing is Believing (Convoluted, But I Can't Help It ...)

I know I sound all upbeat in my previous post, but that is far from how I really feel. Yesterday, I had an experience that is not monumentally scary but left me really shaken.

I went to see a friend of mine at the scene of a music video shoot yesterday. This is a guy we all know. First let me say that I thought I knew the entertainment industry very well, but yesterday I entered a completely differenty sibculture that really shook me - woke me up.

You read about all the MTV hos, and it seems so far away. But we have them here. I saw them! And it was ... ugly. The girl whose video was being shot (by one our best directors nonetheless) had no talent, looked sweaty (in a bad way) and lacked taste.

The people in the video? The guys looked wasted and clueless. No there were no drugs (we're not yet that far gone), but it still didnt stop that wasted, no-ambition glow in their eyes. This is what these young members of my generation are about - they live for a minute around pseudo-stars who might never break out into mainstream, they would do anything for a glint of stardom.

The girls? They were quite pretty girls some, and I caught myself ogling more than once - but these are not the kind of girls that you think anything of apart from a wide bed in a swanky hotel, no matter how pretty. There was the strong sense of no self-worth - no ambitions beyond this point, or perhaps beyond getting a man to get them out of that crowd maybe. The girls were rubbing all over my friend (he's a fine boy) and throwing themselves all over him, grabbing his butt and grinding into him - some looking to arouse him , others perhaps to make sure they are invited to the 'next party'.

Plus they all evidently hated the singer, and bitched and bitched and bitched - everyone was sizing everyone up - and all for what? To shake booty for a few minutes for a video that might not last more than three weeks on Music Africa and probably never make it to any Top Ten chart?

That wasn't even the tragedy. The tragedy was my friend. Hugely popular, incredibly talented and one of the people with genuinely great hearts I have ever meet. Also very disorganised sadly. I genuinely like him. He is a year or so older than me, but I tend to 'Elder Brother' him.

We are supposed to be working on a project with him, which he has frustrated because of his 'scatteredness' - yesterday i finally pinned him down for a talk: "I can't understand why you are doing this to yourself? I dont want you to be like XYZ in a few years time - plenty of talent, but nothing has been done with it cos you've been busy running high on your own supply." And he tells me, "I know, but really I dont think my brand is that big... I always wonder, what do people see in me?'

I was crushed. Not because I was surprised - I had always known this was his problem, but to hear him confirm it crushed me. You see, one gift I have always had is self-awareness. It is a curse sometimes, but mostly it is a blessing. A keen awareness of what I am about and a clear vision of where I am going. It used to always shock me that the most talented people didnt have this - and it us3ed to annoy me to pieces. But age and experience always conspire to temper you, and now I know everyoone is not like that. So I always knew that my friend's problem was he didnt see what we could see. He couldnt. Can't.

This my friend is a superstar. He doesnt have a lot of money, but he is a superstar. He is a huge brand, and everyone knows it. Everyone except him. He calls it humility, and I used to think it was. Yesterday, I realised it wasnt humility. Humility is one thing; inferiority is another. Everyone has the RIGHT to a little amount of self pride - a strong sense of worth. When one moves moves forward in life, there are some things you have to leave behind. The bible says 'When I was a child, I behaved like a child, but now that I have grown ...'

My friend is no more the needy, desperate for attention nobody he was five years ago as a student. He is now a brand, a star, he is now relevant - he has moved up, he has built substance - but still he doesnt believe that. He looks at himself and sees that nobody student from the slums that he was. When he tells me 'Ah, X wants me to come to his party' or 'B called me' i smile sadly: of course they should call him - he's as much a star as them! But he doesnt see that - he can't believe his luck, that he is now surrounded by the kind of life he has always dreamed of, and he keeps trying to convince himself it is all true. He doesnt think he deserves it, and instead of building a stro ng foundation and moving to the next level, he is still busy trying to take it all in, still trying to believe it all. Still limited by a complex.

I understand it because I used to have the same problem serious, until one of my 'big sisters' shook it out of me. He thinks he is a phony - he is afraid that people will look at him one day and realise that he is just a nobody, that people will see through him someday and find out he doesnt have rich parents or lots of money in his account, or a 'fat crib'. That he is just ... another guy from the streets. But he is not! He is a star created by talent and hardwork. But he doesnt know!

What we want to do for him is a HUGE project that we KNOW will sell; and that will place his brand on a huge pedestal not to talk of make him money he has never seen in his life - and every one we have spoken to knows it will work. Everyone except him. And so he is excited about him, but he is frustrating it because he doesnt think he is good enough. People woth half his brand strenght are already flying with th little they have, and my friend lets his own waste away, preferring to jump from this Big Boy's Party to that Big Girl's party. Because he thinks that is all he is good for. He thinks without that, he wouldnt be who he is - no one would want him.

At that shoot, my friend tried to connect with everyone and to be everyone's friend and the life of the party, and would come to me and tell me excitedly that the girl whose video was being shot was learning his dance steps and I felt so sorry for him -it's incredulous; he is FAR beyond that!

But he doesnt know. He thinks he needs to continyue to be this footmat so that he can be loved. He deprives himself to make other people 'happy' - gives all of himself and nothing to himself. Anyone who needs to have people around him to feel useful or relevant is not healthy. You should be enough for yourself.

He will burn out very soon. He will be used and dumped. People will suck him dry of his relevance and leave him with nothing. I have seen it happen before. I can see it happeneing to him. I have tried to tell him over and over. yesterday I told him again, and he agreed with me - but minutes later he was sucked again into the abyss of seeking love from people who dont really love him, - people who dont love the real him, who only love the hype of him. And who will have no qualms moving on to the next hype.

Thing is, he shouldnt even have been at that place at that time of the night. That's what moving up in life should earn you: he should have done what he needed to do and left to go and live his own life ... but he couldn't. He was high on thepeople who were egging him on, making him feel good. They were his Ecstasy, his Cocaine. They continued to butt into my conversation with him no matter how he tried to hide us away, calling him for irrelevant things, when what we were talking about was his life!

He tried to run from them, but eventually he was sucked in again, and I didnt even bother anymore. I just sat and watched him. It was soon 10pm. I had to leave.

I have the gift of seeing, I have come to know. Of seeing where it is all going, where it will all end, and I see my friend burnimg out very soon. I see him wasting his talent away - I see him ruining himself, but I didnt know how to communicate this to him so he could take a step back and reassess. I couldnt. He couldnt see what I saw.

I really like this guy - he's one of the few good people around - and I wished I could have stayed longer to conclude myt talk with him - but that was no environment for me. Even I - the anti-snob - had to turn up my nose lest I throw up at some point. I know what's good for me. I had to leave. I had to leave him behind. With the MTV Hos and the singer with no talent in a sawnky studio populated with the sweaty and the clueless. And that made me so sad.

What use is a gift if you cannot use it to save those you care about?

20 comments:

Mr.Fineboy said...

Great post man. In America they say "The music industry is shady..." Guess it's the same everywhere. God help your friend o. Chude Chude! My main man, where've you been?

Anonymous said...

This is deep isnt it. I wish I could guess who this star friend is - since you obviously wont tell. Your friend isnt alone in this mess is what I will add at this point.

Bella Naija said...

Wow! That was really deep.
Maybe its time that you gave your friend sme tough love and have a hard-edged discussion with him (just like your 'big sister' had with you)...
It hurts me to see people like this.
SAD!

laspapi said...

I don't think you can save this man, Chude. Let him be. A man cannot give what he does not have.

Post the Naija Blogger's Book issue, please.Just go on my blog, cut and paste.

mystoriesmytestimonies said...

you just spoke to me in so many ways....
i use to be like ur friend in so many ways...
it is God's grace that got me out from that mentality ....
i will be praying for ur friend...
my advice to u....dont give up on ur friend....keep telling him the truth...
u can be the one to drag him out of his hole/pit...
maybe..U ARE HIS ANGEL...

u write so well...i want to repost some part of this write up on my blog ..but will post ur blogsite ..let me know if it is ok with u ....

The Castle of the Writer said...

Hi Chude,

I have actually missed out some things since I left the blog. Well, you said you went to my blog and didn't see anything, I wonder! You should have missed out also then...LOL...

Well, you can check Onyeka Nwelue on Google then to find something...

Huh? You should be careful. They might sack you for blogging behind the desk! LOL

OGN

Anonymous said...

i actually agree with laspapi. maybe this guy is too far gone? you said he is older than you for pete's sake! my fear with these people is that they drain you of your own essence eventually. you sound like a pretty strong character from your posts (in fact i downloaded one of your past posts for my lil sister) but you need to be certain first that you can survive sticking with him. and like mystoriesmytestimonies says, you write so very well

NIGERIA POLITRICKS said...

You just gotta keep trying to show this dude the way men...You gotta' make him see that strong conviction you have about him. Never give up on a friend men; make some time, sit him down and yarn some common sense into his head...the turning curve might be around the corner; just keep trying Chude!!!

Anonymous said...

This was definitely not d'banj. So anyone else is SHEIIT!
Maybe he's just not that into you.

Idemili said...

I can smack him around for you if you want. sometimes people need a really good shake to wake them up.

Chude! said...

@fineboy,
na me supposed to dety ask you where you dey! When evertybody don dey threaten harakiri if you no post new gist - since april!!! thank God you don come out of your hole sha. how you dey?!

@anonymous,
sadly i can't tell. the invasion of privacy would be tactless. thanks for dropping in

@bella
I hear you! It's really sad, yeah. thanks for dropping in. how you dey?!

@laspapi,
a man cannot give what he does not have?! You mean this guy will never be able to have self-worth?! Can there be people like that?!?????

Will post teh thnigie on sunday abeg. Have a problem with posting new stuff. I think itys the connection. On sunday I'll be somewhere with hi-speed internet (i hate lagos! i need fast internet!)

@mystories,
Let me say thsi now: i cherish comments. They always have a way of reaching inside me - and because they are so heartfelt. Thanks. Incidentally, I and the guy had a convo two days ago and he said teh same thing about 'being his angel'. I dont know though. I also have my own life and my own issues. But we are all 'ordinary people' looking for a way to go. Of course you can repost. No problems at all. Hope all is well with you

@onyeka,
been reading up on you!!! and now i see ya blog!!! you are 18?! I hate you!!!lol. Congrats man. You're doing good. Good. Good. No worry, dem no go sack me for office!lol

@anon2
thanks a lot. and the thing about your sister was so sweet thanks tjhis anon thing frustrates me sha. i wish i know who is who!lol.

@nigeria,
thanks. 'never give up on a friend'... i'm listening! thanks for dropping in. how you dey?

@anon3
you may be right. i should certainly hope that is the problem. but dont think that is since i spoke to the guy two days ago and it just me broke me down further,. you think anyone but dbanj is shit. hmm.

@idemmili
i trust you babe!!!lol

@ezaha,
the post you commented on is so waaaay down i am scared you might not see my response!!! So here ghoes: '@ ez'aha,
Thanks thanks thanks for all this plenty praise o!!! Which one be meeting me as naturally as possible? Abeg decode!!!! And wetin concern my date with Nigerian Idol o?!??? Thanks for dropping by sha. I enjoyed reading your post plenty!!'

Anonymous said...

I think this calls for an intervantion...if he is all you say he is then, give him some home truth and especially from people who can help him. I remember reading somewhere about one of the ladies from KUSH...the lawyer I think, who runs some organisation for setting 'creative people' in the right direction. I think she is a friend of yours so you can hook it up for your friend's sake. I hope he gets help! Keep up the good work "Angel Man"

laspapi said...

can you teach self worth, chude? Everyman must find it in himself or not at all. You can't impose yours on him, no matter how hard you try.

On a lighter note, I read your profile and description of "Basic Instinct" and "Monster's Ball" as having arty sex scenes. You pervert, chude, don't attempt to "artify" soft porn. Halle Berry tried the genre again in "Perfect Stranger", but come on, she can't fool us 2ce. Sex sells and it ain't art, not even the Karma Sutra

BOA said...

Chood, how far? This is very insightful. It's "refreshing" to know that someone with roots so deep in the glamour business is still so in touch with "true reality"... Way to go, Chood! I like this article, and like your attitude...that ability to be surrounded by so much glamour and yet still be able to see it all "from the outside"...

Afolabi said...

Wow, that was touching and just curiousity, whose this not so confident star..guys do visit my blog http://afolabipieceofmind.blogspot.com/ and leave your comments.

Chude! said...

@anon,
thanks. sounds likje you know a lot about the industry. sure i dont know you? Actually, the Emem (Kush) idea is not a bad one AT ALL. Thanks for dropping in.

@laspapi,
The thing is everyweher i turn, movies 'unnecessarily' exploit sex. Every movie in recent times has had it: 300, A Perfect Stranger ... even a 'serious; movie like Last King od Scotland!! I have to have a very good reason to confuse myself that what I am seeing has an intellectual value. Cos if not, then we might as well all be hypocrites for turning our noses at pornography. To maintain my sanity, I maintain those have to be art!

@boa,
the day i become so 'surrounded by glamour that i forget about reality' is the day that i have become stupid. And may that day NEVER come! How you dey?! long time.

@afolabi,
cant reveal unfortunatyely. how you dey. will check out your blog. thanks for dropping by

Writefreak said...

Well i think you should try and help your friend, maybe you have been able to see what is wrong with him so you will be able to help. Try your bit, try real hard except he refuses the help blatantly. A Yoruba adage says when two friends enter a room and come out smiling, they have deceived themselves. Please continue being a good friend. If you belive in prayers, also pray for him. There's nto so much an enemy of progress as a lack of self worth. In as much as we should be grateful and humble, the success of today should not be the enemy of tomorrow's progress.
Sorry i gatecrashed, saw your name on so many blogs and just had to visit.

Cheers

Chude! said...

thanks. actually i am already taking thsi advice. actually i like him a lot so it is not a difficult thing to do. and you are so right about a lack of self worth as the ultimate enemy. oh and feel free to gatecrash anytime you wish!!~

Daddy's Girl said...

Beautifully written... and sad. It's hard to make someone realise their worth - as laspapi says it's one of those things you need to figure out for yourself. I hope your friend gets there soon...

Chude! said...

I hope so myself. Sadly, I think I have given up on him now. Thanks for dropping in!