Hero Worship Crisis: Can you hate the creator and love the art?
(And why I love Vundie)
This “essay” is divided into 2 parts. You might not want to read everything in one sitting, but please read it if all you read is the Conclusion. If not for me, then do it for Vundie!
Part 1 is titled “Can you hate the creator and love the art?” where I intend to address an angle of the recent (ongoing?) Hollywood sexual harassment scandals; and in Part 2, I talk about my love for a man called Vundie (also known as Vunderkind, Mogwai™ or Justin Irabor).
The 2 parts converge eventually.
Part 1: Can you hate the creator and love the art?
Think about that question, take as long as you’d like.
My answer is at the end, but here’s how I think about the question.
The question has come to me in different ways on many days.
The first time it hit me was after Kanye West called Taylor Swift a bitch on his 2016 track “Famous.”
Famous Lyrics: Man I can understand how it might be / Kinda hard to love a girl like me / I don't blame you much for…genius.com
It was hard for me because Kanye is my favourite musician.
It was claimed, and I agreed that, his lyrics were misogynistic. But did I stop listening to Kanye’s music?
The most recent time I’ve asked myself this question is this week when it was alleged that Aziz Ansari sexually harassed a woman.
She approached him because she recognized his camera flash - Aziz Ansari was taking pictures at the 2017 Emmy Awards…babe.net
Some people think he did it, some don’t think it was sexual harassment
Over the weekend, a story broke at the online publication babe detailing a sexual encounter between Golden…www.chicagotribune.com
It’s irrelevant to me with regards to his show “Master of None”
Dev tries to jump-start his acting career and elevate his dating game with help from his eclectic group of friends in…www.netflix.com
I LOVE that show, and whenever Season 3 comes out (which I hope it will) I will binge watch it. I am disappointed by what Aziz allegedly did, but I love his art.
It’s the same thing with Kevin Spacey in “House of Cards” or John Lennon of the Beatles.
Let’s zero in on Lennon. I won’t mince words, Lennon was a bad person in many ways.
"Very weird," says Julian. Julian Lennon, centre, with his parents Julian, 35, is the Sixties child of John Lennon and…www.telegraph.co.uk
He was a pure, top-notch bastard, but he was also a beautiful soul. He enraged millions of Christians with a statement, but he also preached world peace. He abandoned one son, but wrote the most beautiful father-to-son song for another.
Should I now not listen to my favourite band, the Beatles?
The point here is that whenever celebrities I love do things I hate, I flinch. I criticize them, but I have decided not to let it affect how I think of their work.
It makes me feel guilty, and I wonder if it’s only me?
Sometimes, it’s not even what the celebritties do, it’s what they look like.
I have found myself subconsciously flinching when I look at or read about certain people whose work I like, not because they did something conventionally wrong but because of my inherent biases.
The Hollywood sexual harassment scandals have rocked the world, and among others, it begs the question:
“Can you hate the creator and love the art?”
Stick with me, let’s see…
Part 2: Why I love Vundie
If you are currently following me on Twitter (@SustyGeek), there are 2 things you might immediately notice about me: I live for sustainability and I love Vundie.
Living for Sustainability
I live for sustainability, literally.
From my handle, @SustyGeek which translates to “Sustainability Geek”, the handles I follow, my Tweets and RTs on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) you can immediately tell that I live for sustainable practices.
More on that in this link:
On the 27th of March 2017, Jennifer Uchendu, founder of SustyVibes, sent me and 19 other people an email. Saying we'd…sustyvibes.com
Loving Vundie (@theVunderkind)
Call it “adore” or “man crush”. Call it whatever, the point is that I love the man. Time after time, people have outrightly pointed it out, and I am proud of it the way an expectant father would be proud of about his ability to father a baby.
Let me tell you how and why I love Vundie.
You might want to sit down, cause it’s a long story.
Are you seated yet?
Good, let’s go!
Because of the kind of people I follow on Twitter, I discovered that Vundie existed sometime in the 3rd quarter of 2017. His tweets made sense so I followed him. But I did not begin to love him until October, 2017 when he had a brief stint with Inktober.
It was glorious. I appreciate good art and so I made both the wallpaper and lock screen of my iPad two images that he had worked on and released.
They’ve been like that ever since, and might be like that ad infinitum. That’s how much I love his art. (Aside: I can’t wait for him to make PC wallpapers).
Between October and now, I have (what’s the right way to say this) properly fallen in love with Vundie.
Don’t laugh…at least not yet.
How I know I love Vundie in 5 points
1. I stalk him
Just online (don’t worry, I never go to his Shomolu apartment).
If I stalk you, you will know.
I’m never shy about the way I stalk people, so much so I’ve written something for anyone who might want to stalk me:
My point is: as long as Vundie puts it on Twitter, I know it.
2. I really stalk him
Some days, I wake up and head straight to Twitter. After obligatorily checking my notifications and DMs, I go to Vundie’s Twitter profile and I scroll till I’m done with everything he’s tweeted or retweeted in ~24 hours.
I have followed certain people because Vundie interacts with them often.
If Vundie shares a link, I open it.
If Vundie respects a person, I respect them.
I have even considered petitioning Twitter to redesign it’s UI/UX so when I come on Twitter, I don’t have to search for Vundie before I go to his tweets. (Aside: Seriously, Twitter should consider this for everyone where they have an icon they click on to head to the profile of their favourite tweep at any given point in time. After all I reckon celebrity presence is a major pull for people to come to Twitter).
3. I mentally stalk him
Daily, I mine Vundie’s tweets for smart and witty things (I recommend this too), then I have a journal where I copy and paste worthy tweets.
For the record, I do not get a lot of the things that Vundie says. In fact, if I had a dollar for everything I don’t get on Twitter I’d be swimming in dollars.
Vundie though has the ability to often pass a message along beautifully. He once put it in these words:
“Content before showmanship”
There’s one thing he said that continues to ring a bell in my head, and possibly will ad infinitum.
On Curious Cat, someone had asked him for the best advice he could give a 20 year old or so, and he said
“Act your age.”
I’ll let that sink in.
4. I make it clear I stalk/love him
Just go to my Twitter profile already.
The latest Tweets from Tokoni (@SustyGeek). Aimasiko loun damu eda...Igbophile, chasing Sustainability. Lagos, Nigeriatwitter.com
5. I physically stalk him
On the 8th of January, 2017, I went to Cafe Neo, Yaba with a friend. We were supposed to see a movie but we’d missed it so we hung out in Cafe Neo.
She thought we were there to drink Coffee *laughs in Igbo* if only she knew…that Vundie currently treats Cafe Neo, Yaba like an office.
And we could have been sitting on the floor, scrubbing dirty sneakers with toothbrushes for all I cared, but I was just there to see Vundie!
We bought 2 cups of Iced Caffè Mocha (which I highly recommend for the chocolate), settled in and talked.
I was enjoying hanging out with her, but the main thing was meeting Vundie. And so over an hour after we had finished our cups of Iced Caffè Mocha and were both obviously tired of the place, we were still there because I was waiting for Vundie.
When he eventually came, I was like those girls you see in Justin Bieber or One Direction live performances (I didn’t scream sha…I think).
We talked for a bit and took pictures.
This is how Vundie remembered it:
But this is how I choose to remember it (pay attention to the captions):
5 reasons why I love Vundie
Moving on, these are the 5 reasons why I love Vundie:
I love Vundie, because he is talented. His comics are good. He writes well. His art is dope.
As simple as that.
You should visit his websites:
That said I want him to prosper, so I’m his Patreon (which means I actively and financially support his art) and so should you. Here’s how, follow this link:
Become a patron of Obaranda today: Read 2 posts by Obaranda and get access to exclusive content and experiences on the…www.patreon.com
Vundie is hilarious!
I have that thing they call seasonal depression; it comes and goes, and I NEED a laugh every now and then. Vundie makes me laugh on the average at least 5 times a day, every day.
For instance, here are some of his tweets:
That’s enough Vundie, please no more today.
Vundie inspires me.
This year, after over 10 years of writing for myself, I have decided I want to let the world see the poet in me. I have made this decision in part because of how Vundie let’s the world see the wonderful artist he is.
One interesting thing about watching Vundie is not watching him right now, it’s “watching” him grow. I had no idea he existed before 2017 but reading his writing and seeing how he has developed himself over the years, I am inspired to follow suit.
Is it the fact that ever since 2016, if you open your eyes (and obaranda.com), you can look at God?
Or the fact that he has been blogging since who knows when, and he’s been live on Medium (Mogwai™) since 2013?
This is his earliest blog post (from 2012) that I have read:
Well, Hello! Who would have thought I would be writing a post for the lady folk this year? Well, shit happens, and this…iraborjustin.wordpress.com
And this is his earliest Medium post I could lay my hands on:
Yep, I stalk like that.
For context, in 2012 I had only left Secondary School and entered Uni; I barely kept a Journal, talk less of letting the world see anything I’d written.
It’s not that I compare myself to Vundie; nope, that would be unhealthy. What I simply do is say to myself:
“This guy is a beast, so:
What can I learn from him?
How can I add value to his life?”
I remember when Vundie’s iPad got stolen, I cried a little inside.
To the people who contributed to get him a new one, thank you! And thanks Timi Ajiboye, for letting him use yours in the interim.
To cap this off, I always say I’m “Vundie’s 2nd biggest fan,” because it’s obviously a joke. I think he’s his own biggest fan, and his self-confidence is captivating.
4. Somebody to Love
There’s a song by Queen called “Somebody to Love.” Here are the lyrics:
Somebody to Love Lyrics: Can anybody find me somebody to love? / Each morning I get up I die a little / Can barely…genius.com
It’s one of their best songs, you should jam or re-jam it. It’s how I feel some times.
In 2017, I went through a heartbreak which I’m still trying to get over. It wasn’t about losing a girlfriend, it was about losing a best friend. Instead of getting over my ex (which I don’t think really happens), I found Vundie.
After the breakup, I just wasn’t used to not loving someone. When we were together, I wasn’t the best boyfriend, but I was OBSESSED with my girlfriend.
Many times, I would just sit down and ask myself:
“What is she doing right now?”
“How can I make her life easier today?”
“How can I get her to smile, without asking?”
“How can I surprise her?”
“How can I make her HAPPY?”
The thing about love, or whatever you consider love, is when you find it, you never want to lose the feeling. (Aside: I reckon that’s one reason why women who are abused don’t leave their abusers. Love is a crazy feeling like that). So when we broke up, I just didn’t know how not to be obsessed with someone.
I decided to take a dating hiatus and focus on non-romantic love for a while.
Naturally, I transferred some of my burning love to my friends, and coincidentally around the same time my ex and I broke up proper, I found Vundie!
No; Vundie and I aren’t friends or remotely close, but there’s a level of intimacy I get from reading his tweets.
Loving Vundie is nothing like loving a girlfriend, but I found me somebody to love…and it works for me.
Vundie is a kind person.
I don’t expect you to agree, and I don’t know what “kindness” means to you. But I think, considering how overwhelming his growing celebrity status is, I think he’s a kind person.
Let me tell you a quick story:
Once I emailed Vundie my CV to review. In less than 48 hours, he not only reviewed it, he also emailed me a CV of his with this comprehensive advice:
Let your CV tell a story.
Does that one single act make him a “kind” person
I don’t know.
But the day I met him, looked at his face and shook his hand I could feel kindness radiating
I reckon Vundie is going to be a kind of great person, but better yet he’ll be a kind and great person.
The Convergence (or where Parts 1 & 2 Come Closer)
Thanks for reading this far; don’t fret, you’re more than half way done. Also don’t get excited, you won’t see Drake in this “Come Closer” either.
This is how Parts 1 and 2 converge.
Vundie doesn’t follow me back on Twitter, and he acknowledges less than 3/4 of what I tweet to him.
So now you understand my love for Vundie is a celebrity-to-follower thing. If it wasn’t clear already, what I have for Vundie is hero worship love, and not love the way a friend or brother would love him.
That said, in re my love for Vundie, these are my 4 thoughts on hero worship:
First of all, hero worship is a tricky thing
My love for Vundie has relatively nothing to do with who he is as a person because I don’t know him personally.
He could say or do something I’d consider “dumb” tomorrow (and I’d be disappointed).
Let’s say for instance in 2028, someone accuses Justin Irabor of sexual harassment or some other outrageous thing. It wouldn’t mean a thing to me, not because of who he is, but because of his art.
You see, I have learnt to separate art from it’s creators.
If you’ve noticed, throughout this essay, I have not explicitly referred to Vundie by his actual name “Justin Irabor.” Instead I call him “Vundie” because right now that is what he is to me: a Twitter personality who is a good illustrator and a writer, and who also tweets funny things. I don’t know him personally, and I sure as hell don’t know about the many other aspects of his life he chooses to or not to share on Twitter.
I don’t, for instance, know or care about his digital marketing life, and I hear he’s really good at it.
Because it’s easier to love from afar…
If Vundie and I ever become friends, I reckon my thoughts about him would change drastically.
One thing I’ve learnt adulting in the last one year is that I don’t love any of my friends the way I loved them when we initially became friends. Our love constantly evolves…
There’s one particular friend of mine who if I had met him today, knowing how he thinks, we might never have become friends. Not because he’s not still the same great person but because we disagree on so many things I consider fundamental to me. But I love this particular friend a lot. I’ll let that sink in.
Even as I have learnt to separate art from it’s creators, it’s often difficult to still enjoy a person’s art if I detest them as a human being.
Let’s take Fela for example.
Sometime in 2017 I read Carlos Moore’s “This Bitch of a Life” (which I highly recommend). Even before I finished the book, I decided that I hate Fela. I hate him very much, hate his stupidity at some basic things, hated the way he let himself die; hate him so, that he’d never be the kind of person I’d want as a friend. I thought about this for a long time, often while jamming “Lady” or “ODOO” or some other golden track of Fela’s, and I asked myself:
“Tokoni, were Fela alive, would he want to be your friend either?”
The answer is “NO!”
With that realization, I have decided that Fela the musician and Fela the person are 2 different entities to me, I sleep better at night that way.
This is where hero worship gets tricky, but I recommend it.
After writing the first draft of this essay, naturally I emailed it to Vundie. He replied and I quote:
the artist needs to be separated from his art, but sometimes his art is an expression of a set of values which his personal life is at odds with, and that’s where the conflict lies.
I’ll also let that sink in.
Secondly, our heroes are just human beings
Vundie is a lot of things to different people. He’s someone’s son, someone’s friend, he’s someone’s brother, he’s someone’s tenant…
To me, he’s a celebrity, a hero…
But to everyone he’s a human being.
He’s a kind, talented, funny, lovable and inspiring person, but he’s just a human being all the same.
And I have learnt to treat him and other celebrities with this understanding. Very often, we forget that the people we hero worship are just human beings like you and I, and so we tend to scrutinize their lives, always holding them up to light, and rushing to attack them for any slight thing they do that we dislike. All human beings make mistakes, so when we criticize we should do so out of love.
Thirdly, add value to people you love and/or hero worship
What do Diddy and my father have in common?
There’s something my father always says:
“Always add value”
He has said and shown it so many times in so many ways, that it is etched into my brain. (I’m serious, get a neurosurgeon to open my brain and you’ll see those 3 words written all over it).
And here’s a Diddy tweet.
So my father and Diddy agree on adding value to people you’re in contact with.
The point here is (because they add value to your life somehow and you want that to continue) always add value to people you love or hero worship.
Lastly, hero worship and love are befitting twins and fleeting things
About a year ago, my number one celebrity and hero was Elon Musk, I’d stalk him anyway I could. I read his biography (which I highly recommend):
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future is Ashlee Vance's biography of Elon Musk, published in…en.wikipedia.org
I’d read for hours and hours about him, I was crazy about him…it was basic stalking.
Right now I don’t do that. I learnt a lot from Elon Musk’s life, and he inspired me to consider a career in Renewable Energy. But if someone told me Elon Musk shat a brick right now, I wouldn’t care.
In the same way, in a year or less time, I might no longer love Vundie the way I do now.
That’s what celebrities are to us, figments of our lives that come to bring us joy, and then they go. That’s also how love is, and it’s okay.
Enjoy the good days loving a person, they won’t last forever.
This “essay” has been unduly self-intrusive for me, but I have given you, glimpses into my life so you can know (and do) the following 10 things:
- I love/hero worship Vundie because he’s worth it, because I can, because I want to; because conveniently for me, I can love both the creator (Vundie) and his art.
- Hero worship is a tricky thing, but I think you can love art and hate it’s creator, conveniently.
- Our heroes are just human beings, treat them like human beings, and criticize them out of love.
- Hero worship is a fleeting thing, it comes and goes.
- Love is also a fleeting thing (it’ll eventually end in disillusionment, break up or death), but nevertheless love as if it will last forever.
- If you love someone, tell them (I LOVE YOU VUNDIE!!!). And if you love me, tell me…
- Love means different things to different people at different times.
- Support and add value to the people you love however you can. If you love an author, buy their books. If you love a musician, pay for their music. If you love somebody, make their lives easier. That said, once again here’s Vundie’s Patreon link. Please follow the link, and support him.
- You will disagree with people (you love), and it’s okay. Life is not Facebook, unfriending people won’t make them disappear off the face of the earth or change much; live with it or leave them, it’s up to you.
- Be kind to people off and online.
Thanks for reading!
Clap, let me know what you think with a comment or two, and consider supporting Vundie!