It’s like when you find out the private spot you discovered on the beach, which you’ve been showing to only those people who might appreciate it, has now been discovered by the whole town. On one hand, you’re glad more people can now enjoy what you’ve known to be pretty great, but on the other hand you fear a certain level of abuse.
Read my post on celebrity worship, HERE, and get a better sense of what I mean. This is why I’m not particularly thrilled with the level of popularity one of my favorite writers has recently achieved – not just by her own doing of course (she was featured in a Beyoncé song). I am happy that she has gotten so much exposure that she could do more with her career and reach way more people than before. The cool professors at Universities now read her works in classes and seminars, and I am really thrilled about that part of her popularity. I have been a big fan of hers from the very beginning – back when she published a play in Nigeria which she recently said she hopes no one ever finds or reads! I hope to work with her someday, so she’s not my problem here, at all!
However, at the same time, I realize that most of the people who “absolutely adore” her, have no idea what her literature is like – they don’t like her for her work, or her intellect. They like the image of her as the poster-child for the cool, educated, strong, Nigerian woman who has made a name for herself in America of all places! A big enough name to make it into a Beyoncé song! Can you believe it?! It’s like her name (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) has become a symbol for something other than her self, or even something other than the artist.
A smart Nigerian woman on her way to becoming a household name in America sounds like quite the achievement for her – except it may not be. The person behind that image cannot claim that success as a personal achievement any more than a raffle winner could claim his win is as a result of his incredible talent. Because at the end of the day, it’s the image that people worship, not the person.
I guess you could say I feel a bit protective of her, because I know if care is not taken, then it’s only a matter of time until people get over her brilliance (which most people would have never discovered the depth of since they won’t read her books) and start attacking every little “flaw” and “non-flaw.”
And yes, this is a rant, and I’m proud of it!