Social media publicity stunts

Marshall Bwanya
In 2003, the Calendar Girls, a British blockbuster comedy, rocked the entertainment scene. The hit film’s plot centres on 11 elderly members of the Rylstone Women’s institute in Yorkshire who are inspired to create a nude calendar for charity.

The calendar featured brave women posing nude in pictures highly decorated by baked delicacies and flower arrangements. The nude calendar sold over 800 000 copies worldwide.

Unfortunately, these nudists became victims of their own success as the new found publicity took a toll on them.

The group suffered divisions as members could not contain the fame.

In modern days, social media is being used pervasively to tap into people’s behaviours and thoughts.

Social media is a global phenomenon with over two billion users worldwide on platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Twitter.

It is undeniable that social networks have made it convenient for sharing posts, pictures and comments across the globe.

Often times we find ourselves scrolling down our WhatsApp or Twitter. Our focus is usually embedded on trending posts and comments.

A day hardly goes by without someone posing half naked on social media.  The question remains as to what motivates some people to post nude pictures.

It is my humble opinion that the desperate urge to be famous is the force behind the proliferation of social media nudity.

The draft Computer Crime and Cyber Crime Bill states that “revenge porn” offenders are liable to a fine not exceeding Level 10 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years or both the fine and imprisonment.

However, the Bill turns a blind eye on those who post their nude pictures intentionally. I think there should be punitive measures against such people.

Research has proved that the bulk of nude pictures are posted by teenage girls who suffer from the ‘exhibitionist syndrome’ and low self-esteem.

A Harvard neuroscience research conducted in 2012 says some women who pose nude have a particular sex appeal.  It seems the belief that “men think with their eyes” drive these Calendar Girl copycats to draw sexual attention using social media.

Statistics prove that nude pictures, posts and explicit content in social media attract the most “Likes” on Facebook. This brings to mind the trending South African socialite Zodwa Rebecca Libram, popularly known as Zodwa Wabantu’s rise to fame through her dances without wearing underwear.

Zodwa has since climbed the entertainment ladder and reports suggest that she recently bought a decent house using proceeds from the controversial dances. To achieve this, Zodwa used social media to have her content out in the public in and around South Africa.

Recently, Zodwa and actress Anne Nhira were involved in a social media brawl.

Nhira appealed to the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality against Zodwa’s participation at the fourth edition of the Harare international Carnival. Nhira argued that Zodwa’s dances and half- naked social media pictures were not in tandem with Zimbabwean culture.  Nhira attracted serious criticism from thousands of social media users who bashed her for “trying to stand on high moral ground”.

It seems social media users are now heeding James Curran adage that “New times call for new thinking”.

Unfortunately or fortunately depending on your opinion, not everyone who emulates the Calendar Girl nude publicity stunt on social media becomes famous. In some instances, comments on social media can be nasty and insulting.

The response from social media users and consumers can be damaging but once the pictures are posted, there is no going back.

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