Why Burna Boy and Portable Are Connected to Squid Game’s Big Win At the Emmys

Squid Game showed up and won awards at the 2022 Emmys. Strange thing because big awards in the US are not usually interested in giving their big awards to people not speaking English.

Everybody in Hollywood knows this, so imagine how those directly American productions felt when the director and lead actor of the Korean series were named winners. (I say “directly” because Squid Game is actually American. If you know, you know.)

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I swear I forgive whatever unsavoury thoughts those Hollywood dudes definitely had in their minds. As they say, “Why na my turn senior student go dey wear short knicker?” They may support diversity but not when it robs them.

The Squid Game director then stood up and said that he hopes that the Emmy trophy in his hand is not his last one. If you don’t disappear! And the nature of the damn camera placement means that you have to clap through clenched teeth. If you give off unsportmanly vibes, you will be the subject in the media for weeks and on YouTube forever. And when those vibes are directed at non-white people, your wahala is tripled these days. Terrible stuff.

What’s worse is that these guys may not care for awards — but a certain displeasure will get to you in the end. It is like that thing Martin Amis once said about his Booker-lessness: My friends have it, so it would be nice. It’s like you staying back in Naija when all your guys are going abroad: You probably don’t care but yet you have to wonder, maybe it would be nice to have what they have: a new address.

In fact, there are only two kinds of people who don’t care about the big awards in their community: the ones who have won it a few times and the ones whose peers have never won it. Look at Portable’s outburst at the Headies: Who knew that someone from the streets would feel so badly about losing an award? But there is a Street Hop category, so he knows he can win; if he doesn’t, one of his peers will.

At the other end of the Naija class spectrum is Burna Boy who held a grudge since he lost the Next Rated category at the Headies back in the early 2010s. He now belongs in the third, rare category of people who can afford not to care about specific awards: the ones who win bigger awards.

Unfortunately, for the Hollywood dudes at the 2022 Emmys, there is no bigger award. They are already at the centre, at the top of the mountain. They may have more money, more acclaim, more fame but they will never have what Burna Boy has: the opportunity to go higher.

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