Sex, lies and videotapes
This week was the week a hand grenade was seemingly thrown into the centre of water cooler talks in offices around the globe. We were only reeling from the Las Vegas shooting, the killer’s motives still shrouded in a veil of mystery, along came Harvey, Davido and Dove. Hollywood is shaken up with the allegations of sexual harassment surrounding the Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein, behind some box office greats such as The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love, and Gangs of New York, while on the Nigerian entertainment scene there is more than a whiff of scandal following the death of Tagbo Umeike and the suspicions regarding Davido’s involvement in Tagbo’s body being rushed to Lagos Island General Hospital by two of his drivers.
Sex and the casting couch
Where there’s a ‘wood, everyone knows, there is often a casting couch or five, where big shot producers bully, berate, blackmail starlets in to sexual favours on the promise of fame, stardom and riches. Over the decades, there have been more than a few Hollywood, Bollywood, Nollywood actors, male and female, who’ve hinted at what is seen to be the entertainment industry standard, regardless of the geographical coordinates. Only two weeks ago a scandal broke out in Turkey where a well-established singer was accused of sleeping with married men, breaking up marriages and currying favours to get to the top, which opened up a whole new can of worms giving entertainment writers the juicy opportunity to insinuate many other female stars since the dawn of Turkish cinema and music had partaken in similarly salacious bargains.
In my opinion, Harvey Weinstein’s scandal is only just the tip of the iceberg – a scandal out in the open which many executives and actors in Hollywood knew of and to some extent complicit to by keeping quiet, turning a blind eye, looking the other way. In an interview with Christiane Amanpour promoting her new film, when asked about Harvey Weinstein, Jane Fonda admitted she “found out about Harvey a year ago”, and was “ashamed” she didn’t speak up earlier. When pressed for the reasons, the veteran actor simply said, “I was not that bold. I guess it hadn’t happened to me, and I didn’t feel it was my place.”
Let’s spare Jane Fonda who told of Weinstein’s misconduct by Rosanna Arquette, one of the many women who has since come forward to speak out against the movie mogul since separate reports from the New York Times and The New Yorker broke, detailing claims of sexual harassment and rape against him. What about the dozens of equally powerful men – already Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are indicated as having known about Weinstein’s behaviour – who did not speak up? Did they feel it was not their place? Did they think there was no need to rock the boat? Are they then not complicit to Weinstein’s crimes along with what we heard may be a Hollywood epidemic with Weinstein only one of the predators? More importantly, who has Weinstein annoyed that the scandal barely contained underneath the surface is now out in the open?
Lies and videotapes
Another big story that keeps opening up more lines of police and water cooler query has been that of Davido and his link to the death of Tagbo Umeike. In his initial interview the singer claimed he was not at Shisha Bar, from where the deceased was rushed and dumped at the Lagos Island General Hospital. He had left the bar for DNA Night Club in Victoria Island area of the state, where he was informed about Umeike’s death.
However, Davido was invited back by the Lagos State police for questioning when the investigation revealed that his driver Tunde Usutu, accompanied by his friends, Agbeje Olaoye and Idris Busari, took the deceased to the General Hospital and abandoned him in his white Toyota Hilux, on the singer’s instructions.
Amidst the furore in the Nigerian entertainment media and dozens of comments debating Davido’s involvement, Tagbo on CCTV footage – provided to the police by Davido – seen drunk and disorderly, or as to whether his father’s influence will determine the course of the proceedings, one comment shook me to the core:
“And we wonder why Nigeria can’t move forward. Our problem is lack of love. If Tagbo were to be any of their biological brother, would this be the result? So why not show Tagbo the love you would show your own brother? The Bible is clear on it…you can’t claim to love God and not your brother (whether biological or not).
Even if first aid was given and Tagbo still passed on, the act of love is there. Driving him to the hospital and dropping him off says ‘he’s not my responsibility.’ I’m quite disappointed, because this is what I’d classify as a cheap death.”
All the way from Lagos to La La Land, is it possible that it is the lack of ‘brotherly (sisterly) love’ that will tear us apart? The instinct that makes us forget we are all the same and turn away, eyes wide shut, murmuring, “not my business”, “not my place”? Perhaps, following the more obvious questions, the question to ponder is will we let lack of love and caring tear us apart?