Sadism towards the rich and famous is all the rage, By Bamidele Johnson

Safe to say, at this point, that Basketmouth, accomplished giver of laughter, is unlikely to find laughter easy to come by. The announcement, made today, of the collapse of his 12-year marriage, grim for him, wife and their children, is already sparking laughter on the social media.

Running alongside that is the reboot of the regular howls of derision at marriages between celebrities or between celebrities and men/women made into celebs by marriage.

One commenter wrote: “Celebrities and divorce are 5 and 6.” You know what that means if you watch football. This, supported by nothing other than the prominence of the marital partners, is founded on the belief that divorce/separation rate is considerably higher among famous people than ordinary folks.

Of course, we’re not a people with great interest in statistics, so we just keep parroting nonsense. Even where stats are available, we prefer to torture them until they confess what validates our diseased assumptions.

Igando Customary Court in Lagos, among many others across the country, is a conveyor belt of the most dramatic divorce cases between the poor and the poor. It was there, a few years ago, that the marriage of a university lecturer was dissolved, following the wife’s decision that a bricklayer-for whom she’d got pregnant-was preferable to an ASUU member.

I doubt if, for a minute, anyone who read the story concluded that bricklayers had become smash hits among married women. That matters less, actually. What matters is the stigmatisation of the rich and famous as irrepressibly dissolute and grossly incompetent at managing marriages, attributes that are also widespread down the ladder.

The stigmatisation makes us unfeeling towards them and the children likely to be affected by the marital split. It’s the same with the children of the rich and their parents. We seem to abhor success and delight in seeing successful people slip into misery.

In July 2017, when insane flooding affected the upscale Lekki area of Lagos, bringing along huge destruction of properties, many cheered with daft and mean takes like “the rich also cry”. I guess they were not aware that depressed places had been flooded and still could be.

In the Covid era, the death of businessman, Bolu Akin-Olugbade, was made into a whip for the backs of the rich. Photos of him standing by choice automobiles, including a Rolls Royce, persuaded people to think the virus did well by killing him.

“Vanity upon vanity” was the line that stuck. The tragedy was, for many, comedy gold. Our sadism towards the rich and famous is off-the-scale and makes us forget that like vanity upon vanity that is vanity, poverty upon vanity also equals poverty.

I should, perhaps, not be surprised. A Jackie Collins book I read in 1985 had a character, who was responsible for cleaning the swimming pool in a Hollywood star’s home. Each time he cleaned and pool was refilled, he urinated in the fresh water. He got kicks from seeing his employer and his fellow big timers swim in the pool-his urine, more like.

He could have reasons to do what he did. Ill-treatment by his boss, for example. But I wonder what our reasons are for hating on rich and successful people we don’t know. Getting back at people who haven’t directly wronged us is a bit bizarre to me.

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