BitDepth 574 - May 01

Raunchy hip hop star Akon picks the wrong girl to dry hump at Club Zen...
Akon and Danah

Breaking news on the virtual tube...

At first, it seemed a little odd that the furore surrounding the controversial performance of Akon at Club Zen on April 12 just kept bubbling higher and higher. It was like watching boiling rice surge over a pot's edge and splatter messily on a stove long after the burner was switched off.
People became incensed about the video of the performance, then came the outrage over the age and attire of Danah Alleyne, 15, then anger over a father's measured response to his child's mistake.

That daddy is a pastor seemed only to compound, rather than assuage public opinion, perhaps on the theory that fire and brimstone would be the preferred remedy over salvation through forgiveness.
Swirling and churning ever higher, the incident made its way up through the ranks of society until it hit Cabinet, first inspiring Fitzgerald Hinds to declare the girl "young, wild and stupid" then moving the Prime Minister to issue a corrective statement, calling on the public to forgive the child, as he turned the spotlight back on event's promoters, noting that "the owners of Zen owe it to the public to take responsibility in this matter."

Who is Akon?
Depending on who you are, viewing the video is either a shocking indictment of the state of morality among young people or a logical extrapolation of the woman controlled phenomenon of Carnival wining colliding with hip-hop's pervasive fantasy of male domination. 
If the subject had been Saucy Wow and not a hapless 15-year-old totally out of her depth, one suspects that the "competition" and the reporting on it might have been quite different.

Akon had already engaged in what Americans call "dry humping" in concerts before landing in Trinidad and Tobago, "performing" something similar with quasi-celebrity Tara Reid. 
This is, after all, a performer who has recorded a song with Snoop Dogg called "I want to (I can't possibly write this word in a family paper) you."
But this issue really isn't about the ethics and morality of young people in adult situations, it's about what happens when technology levels the world and globalises access to information.

Broadcasting bacchanal
So many factors came together to make this incident one that became more than just a wining competition in a nightclub gone wrong and elevated it to becoming a source of worry to the Prime Minister and his Cabinet.
The proliferation of cameras and image capable phones for a performance by a well-known singer in intimate circumstances was the first enabler.
Then the Internet kicked in, with its many ready repositories of images and video clips that are shared with the world.

It's interesting to note that this story broke not because of any reporter or photographer present at the event. The incident became news after the clip became available on Google's YouTube.
This "citizen photojournalism" and the many ways that the resulting clips and stills can be circulated have ensured that no event is ever far from being recorded and shared.
There are many uploads of clips from the event on YouTube, a website that became famous for its open policy on video uploads, accepting pretty much anything that wasn't openly pornographic or obviously copyrighted and policing even those offenders languidly.

Surprisingly, several of the "Akon in Trinidad" clips are now blocked to anyone who hasn't registered with the site and declared that they are of age. If you want to watch "Akon Passa Passa the Pastor daughter," you may have to let YouTube know that you're over 18.
A Google search on young Miss Alleyne turns up more than 150 hits. Websites covering everything from religion to hip-hop have carried the story, most linking to local newspaper coverage, and carrying the same information. 

Unlike most situations in which public comment grows heated and fact is slowly buried by opinion, it's possible to dissect much of what happened that night because of how thorough the coverage is.
The unfortunate teen, for instance, is never seen in the many photos and video raising objections or dissent. Indeed, the still images of her suggest enthusiastic, if ill-advised, consent.

The crowd, described as shocked in most opinion reporting, is clearly vocal and enthusiastic in the video, cheering the performance along.
The real surprise of this incident wasn't that it happened or that the girl involved was underage. It was the lightning speed with which it surged around the world, riding data streams and sparking comment and curiosity with a thoroughness that's a publicist's wet dream.
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