Cossy Orjiakor and the problem with entertainment journalism

Olumide Iyanda

Buzz by Olumide Iyanda

Email: Twitter: @mightyng

Olumide-IyandaSo, Cossy Orjiakor has denied reports that she insured her breasts for some N256 million. In case you missed the story, the “porn again” actress was reported last year to have – as one popular blog described it – “sealed a huge deal with an America-based company, Enhanced Silicon Inc., to insure her most controversial yet popular asset – her breasts.”

It went on to say, “the deal came with a condition which demands that anyone who desires to touch her ‘insured assets’ would have to pay to do so.” Cossy was even quoted as saying: “I specifically asked for $1.6 million. The downside of the deal is that I may get dressed.” Enhanced Silicon Inc., we were told, is “well known for insuring the breasts of famous Hollywood stars such as Dolly Parton and Pamela Anderson.”

As if that was a Pulitzer award-winning expose, many who fancy themselves as entertainment journalists simply copied and pasted the story. Even otherwise respected newspapers with years of publishing behind them were not left out of the ‘breastfest’. Very few bothered to check if a company like Enhanced Silicon Inc. existed. Or if the content and the container in question were worth N256 million.

As it turns out, not only is Enhanced Silicon Inc. the figment of some blogger’s infertile imagination, the woman with the best part of her life in front of her has now described the story as something “somebody just cooked up somewhere”.

Speaking to Vanguard newspaper, Ms Orjiakor revealed that she didn’t bother to deny the story because it sounded so interesting. “I don’t know anything about it. I didn’t tell anybody I’m insuring my boobs.”

Cossy might look like something the cat dragged in on occasions, but she is not without her redeeming values, even if you have to search under the rock to discover them. At least, she knows that “insurance is a good thing, but the fact remains that you cannot get the money until something goes wrong with the breasts”.

Reports as patently false as the one about the insurance on Cossy’s breasts are a reflection of what has become of Nigerian entertainment journalism. With bloggers now assuming star status, everybody is now in a rat race to break the next celebrity news. That desperation is often the reason actors and other stakeholders in the entertainment sector think, like Cossy once said, “I can buy your award for N20,000.” Of course, people have called journalists names over the years, even for doing the right thing. But having someone make you look stupid over an easily recognisable false story is a depth no journalist should sink to.

Years after crash-landing on the scene via appearances in Bayowa Films and Records productions like Pasuma’s ‘Fuji Gyration’ and Obesere’s ‘His Excellency’ videos, Cossy cannot be said to have made a success of her craft in front of the camera. Obesere once described her as “just one of the dancers in my music album, His Excellency”. Often typecast as a prostitute or seductress, her roles in movies like The Only Nigerian Girl, Outkast and Itohan only reinforce the perception that her best acting is done with her back on the ground.

But if a talent-less Kim Kardashian can rise to fame on the back of a sex tape, Cossy and kindred spirits like Maheeda and Afrocandy deserve some attention, even if they flaunt what is between their legs more than that which is between their ears. There is definitely a lot to be said about a graduate of Accounting from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) with a postgraduate degree in Business Administration from the University of Lagos (UNILAG) who now posts nude pictures on social media and gives out her mobile numbers freely so fans can call her at night.

A good entertainment writer would not ignore things people find entertaining. He should recognise the velvety sound of Lagbaja’s tenor saxophone the same way he does P-Square’s dance routine. What Genevieve Nnaji and Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde do in movies should also be as familiar as what Oge Okoye and Niyola do with their ‘bikini bodies’. The line should however be drawn between what is true and what is false.

As it is in other beats, entertainment journalism practised now has been tainted by the fact that standards have fallen. The passion for journalism is still in a lot of people but many get easily frustrated because blackmailers and hustlers now call the shots. The vibrancy that existed before social media and mobile telephone is long gone. People are no longer half as smart as their smartphones. It is a pity that many so-called journalists do not take the time to check their facts in these days of Google and Wikipedia before publishing stories.

Time was when reporters had to travel miles to confirm a story before rushing back to the office to submit your material in hard copy; when journalists were respected even by the people who were not comfortable with the stories they wrote. Of course, there were bad journalists back then too, but they easily got lost in the crowd. Today, the incompetent ones make up the crowd. We are in an era where bloggers throw the word ‘lol’ about in their copies as if it is the greatest English word ever invented. They hide their lack of depth in the sea of comments posted by equally uneducated readers who hit the enter button on their keypad without thinking. Time-worn clichés like ‘crooner’, ‘dude’, ‘baby’s mama’ and ‘call out’ litter newspapers and websites. Someone gave Iyanya the tag ‘Kukere Master’ and it quickly became a trademark. Sound Sultan is suddenly a veteran musician. One can go on and one.

Thankfully, there are still those whose stories you can swear by; the ones who can look Cossy in the face and honestly tell her what to do with her cups. They may not have a cult following on social media or appear on the red carpet, but they still have their dignity intact.

Unfortunately, it is the ones with the nuisance value who make the most noise.