Is it just for show or is that real life?

Friday, March 19th, 2021 00:00 |
Size 8 and Dj Mo.

Is it just for show or is that real life? This is a question many Kenyans ask as they watch creators and public figures post content on their social media platforms. FAITH KYOUMUKAMA explores this phenomenon

Content creators have with no doubt changed the game not only on the various social media platforms, but also in the real world. Content has now become the new world cash cow.  

The question that lingers in many people’s minds is what such creators have or do to get such great following.

Well, for some, their content resonates with their audience, and for others, clout is the driving force behind their huge numbers, which they then monitise. 

Take for instance Eric Omondi, who produces and runs Wife Material, a reality show on his YouTube channel that has over 500,000 subscribers.

In its second season, the dating series has a script similar to the Bachelor, where the comedian is in search of a wife. He goes on dates with different women for several weeks.  

Scripted, the show is meant to create and set a buzz on social media, and in turn, attract brands and make money from it.

The second season, which comprised women from East Africa, led to the arrest of the comedian by detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

Ezekiel Mutua, CEO of Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) said the comedian violated provisions of the Films and Stage Plays Act by producing and distributing the unauthorised show. 

“The war is not against artistes or the youth, it’s against ‘dirty’ content. The intention is not to harass artistes or stifle creativity.

The idea is to promote clean content and protect children against exposure to adult content,” Mutua said in a social media post.

The night before his arrest, the comedian hosted a birthday party at a club in Nairobi, with the cast.

Two of the contestants got into a physical altercation and Omondi posted the scuffle on social media, including a video of the cast in a police cell the following morning. 

The situation had Kenyans wondering: was it real, part of the script, or was the whole drama just a clout move? 

When Spice contacted Eric, he was reluctant to clarify the circumstances behind the scuffle. 

“The last time I told people the show was scripted, it caused a lot of uproar on social media.

So I will let people watch and enjoy it without sharing the nitty gritty of production,” said Omondi. 

On whether he rides on clout to push content, he said clout and entertainment is the same thing. 

“When we started the show, the talk was I was just clout chasing. My main goal was to entertain, and if people think that is clout, then I have achieved my end goal.

I don’t think people can differentiate the two, but I’m starting to realise it’s a good thing to use clout, especially if one manages to achieve the need of pushing content,” Eric explained.

Wife Material has since been suspended after Omondi and Mutua opted for an out of court settlement, backed up with nine demands before the case is withdrawn.

The meeting, which took place on Monday, included a mediation team led by comedian Mwalimu Churchill and Jalango. 

Omondi hopes to come back with a bigger and better show. He considers the meeting successful and a win for the industry saying.  

“What’s important moving forward is that the industry will now self-regulate, by rules and engagements done by the mediation team formed. Eric Omondi should be the last artist to be arrested by the DCI,” he affirmed.

This is not the first time Omondi is brushing shoulders with the law. Just two months ago, Mutua had called for Omondi’s arrest, accusing him of running a brothel in the name of a mentorship programme.

Mutua accused Omondi of committing a crime by setting up a studio, Big Tyme Entertainment, to exploit girls.

The studio located in Lavington was shut down two days after the official launch.

Singer Bahati and his wife Dianna Marua is yet another couple that seems to ride on clout to push their content on YouTube.

The couple’s show, Being Bahati, documented the life of the singer and his family. It started off on a local TV station, but was allegedly cancelled after two seasons.  

They then moved the content online, but not everyone was a fan of some content they put out.

There were comments online referring to some portions of the content as unrealistic, too scripted and fake.

Through the channel, the couple promote different brands and organisations.  

Just a few months ago, Dj Mo and Size 8’s show Dine with the Murayas was cancelled after two seasons, which aired for 24 weeks.

The show aimed to educate and entertain Kenyans on the challenges of living as a married couple.

Towards, the end of the series a situation escalated between the two, contributing to social media conversation insinuating infidelity in their marriage.

A video of the two publicly arguing did rounds online making them the talk of social media streets for about three weeks in a row. 

The couple had since unfollowed each other on Instagram, a move that got the public talking sparking infidelity rumours before the show aired on TV.

Some people termed it as a clout move to increase viewership for the show, while others believed there were rocky storms in the Muraya’s household.

The video, which was uploaded about five months ago has since garnered over 2.1 million views on YouTube, a platform where the couple has over two hundred thousand subscribers. 

Size 8 was quick to say that the programme was not scripted.

“When we were doing the show, we would enact things we have gone through as a couple.

What you saw on TV were real issues. Just because we had many hits on YouTube does not mean that we were clout chasing. 

The intention behind the show was to teach other couples how to go about issues that arise in marriages,” she told Spice. 

Judge others

The musician also made it clear that she cannot speak on or judge others on whether they clout chase or not. She was adamant, however, that the Murayas have never chased clout.  

Socialite and businesswoman, Vera Sidika, is also known to ride on controversy, especially when about to release a song or a product.

She once went as far as getting a darker tint on her skin, after allegedly splashing millions to look light-skinned. 

So, why turn to clout chasing?

Janet Mwaluda, the executive producer of Nairobi Diaries, says clout and controversy sells, especially when it comes to reality shows or programmes. 

 “A reality show is a relatable depiction of the society; it’s like a mirror of all the life joy and drama that are a part of life.

People love drama, and it sells. Take for instance American shows such as the Bad Girls Club, Love and Hip Hop and the likes.

There is no difference between what content creators are doing and what has been done in the past.

It’s a reinvention of what reality TV offers, only it’s done by individuals referred to as social media influencers,” she explains.

David Guoro, a brand strategist, publicist and producer, says people find clout chasing easier considering the competitive state of the YouTube space. 

“People are hungry for a fast-growing audience. YouTube is a competitive space at the moment, the struggle for attention is evident. 

As a content creator, you need numbers for it to translate into money. You make controversial content, you get people talking,” says Guoro. 

“In the entertainment industry, it’s all showbiz and that’s why people go overboard. After all, any kind of publicity is good for publicity,” he adds.

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