Is Atlanta seeing the beginning of the end of internet celebrity?

Attorney Antonio Moore, a major proponent of the campaign for reparations to descendants of African slaves brought to America, published a video post discussing the fallacy of black celebrities, how the “decadent veil of black celebrity” was being removed and exposing the futility of allowing affluent blacks in the entertainment industry to set the tone for success.

According to Attorney Moore, the focus, especially by young blacks, on the black celebrity class has taken the eyes off of the primary objective which is to build strong and intact black families owning and deriving income from real assets. Attorney Moore’s comments were fueled by the latest actions taken against rapper Kanye West by Adidas, one of Mr West’s now former sponsors.

Adidas and other sponsors have taken issue with anti-Jewish and anti-Semitic sentiments expressed by Mr West and have decided to part ways with the entertainer.

Entertainers like Mr West have been able to leverage the power of the internet to not only sell their music but to sell political narrative. Thirty years ago, an artist like Prince would give the infrequent television interview leaving it to his music to spark any controversy, literally and figuratively. Today, controversial comments go viral over the digital landscape. To Mr Moore’s point, an artist whose career should have plateaued ten years ago can go on twice as long as in the case of Mr West with statements and antics that can be used to stir up interest not only in the man but likely in their music as well.

The veil of celebrity started to fall over a few eyes in the late eighties and early nineties in Atlanta. From L.A. Reid to Deion Sanders to TLC, Atlanta was slowly but surely becoming a haven for black entertainers. Today, you can drive by every four street corners and see a “videographer” with a cellphone shooting clips of an Instagram “model” hoping that she becomes the next big viral thing. “Ye” and other entertainers have given the impression that wealth is tagged closely to the dime a dozen glamour we see all over social media.

Congress, persuaded that internet technology would revolutionize telecommunications, amended in 1996 the Communications Act of 1934. The new section 47 USC 1302(b) of the Communications Act of 1934 provided that the Federal Communications Commission and state public utility commissions “encourage the deployment on a reasonable and timely basis of advanced telecommunications capability to all Americans …” In other words, regulation was to be imposed with a light touch on the building out of broadband facilities to all Americans.

With increased access to broadband facilities came a demand for content best provided not only by an open internet, but by an internet where platform providers would not be held liable for content provided by content creators or treated as publishing companies when platform providers exercised editorial discretion. Platform providers could also exercise their discretion to edit content posing some community risk. This is the policy rationale of Section 230 of the Communications Act.

But what if Congress were to repeal Section 230 of the Communications Act? If the provider of an interactive computer service could now be held liable for a content provider’s lewd, lascivious, obscene content, the interactive computer service provider would either pay an insurance carrier for protection against lawsuits, charge content providers for using the interactive computer service’s facilities, or block access to a content provider all together.

One immediate impact may be to force content providers to finance their own content platforms, owning the entire process from extraction, to production, to delivery. The cost of production would now include ownership and only those truly willing to invest in value will pay that cost. The ratchet producers riding off of another’s platform will slink off into the night.

I see too many YouTubers and Instagram content providers occupying the internet space and given the level of competition are finding themselves making as many statements as Mr West. The internet was quieter and resourceful when it was less entertaining.

Alton Drew

27 October 2022