Zimbabwean celebrities and social media 

It was a live Facebook video that sparked a frenzy of tweets, speculation and subsequently, a live interview between Ruvheneko Parirenyatwa and musician Stunner. The issue in question was certainly not something new to society: infidelity is a problem as old as time itself. What made it different this time was a combination of accessibility to social media and a heightened interest in the private lives of celebrities and public figures.

Of course this isn’t the first bit of entertainment news that has piqued public interest. The leaking of Tino Katsande’s sex tape spawned articles on publications such as Three Men on a Boat, a Hitler reaction video, and a spirited discussion around the importance of headboards. There’s a strange desire to want to know more about the people who populate our airwaves and newspapers:

Who is really the person behind the face?

Are they as entertaining when they’re not in the public eye?

What kind of person are they, really?

There are whole 24hour channels dedicated to entertainment journalism, revolving around the lives of celebrities. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing: often times these celebrities go out of their way to endear themselves to their fans. In an age of hyper-visibility where a digital presence is a must to maintain celebrity status in the public eye, that desire to know more is more easily satisfied. You no longer have to wait for H Metro or the entertainment page of your favourite newspaper. Now, you can just check out their Snapchat or Instagram to find out what they were up to this weekend.

It’s great to see more Zimbabwean celebrities embrace social media as part of their brand. However, with more online visibility comes a higher chance of scandal or PR nightmare. What’s online never truly goes away, especially in the era of screenshots. When everyone’s favourite gospel rapper Mudiwa tweeted a joke about suicide, he was promptly called to order. And when Stunner’s wife Olinda felt hurt and aggrieved, she turned to Facebook in order to air her grievances and express her pain. This is also a fairly common phenomenon: people use social media as a way to find relief, as a form of personal diary when life gets too much. In this case, her video (and subsequent apology) didn’t just disappear into the digital sea.
Stunner’s live interview with Ruvheneko, billed as an ‘exclusive’, fits into this tricky relationship between celebrity and online visibility. In the same way platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have allowed for news to spread faster and further, the belief is that celebrities need to get ahead of the story, or at the very least, give their side of the story. This means even more visibility, an opportunity for your audience to get even more access into your life. It can work, or it can end badly. It’s yet to be seen how Stunner’s live interview will affect his celebrity, but one this is guaranteed: this story is out there, and it will never truly go away.

What does this mean for Zimbabwean celebrities? Navigating social media presence is a fine balancing act: creating your online presence is a meticulous enterprise that isn’t foolproof to upsets or drama. Whatever the resolution to this recent issue is, one thing is for certain: celebrities and social media are an entertaining combination.

Image sourced from http://www.showbiz.co.zw

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