After Gangnam Style and PSY had skyrocketed to the most wanted music video towards the end of 2012, soon Picotaro became the talk of the town with his not-so-soothing yet catchy song PPAP. Similarly, The Weeknd would not have become The Weeknd if it was not for the anonymous songs he uploaded on YouTube under that name. Moreover, Dylan O'Brien who starred in The Maze Runner, got a break in Hollywood through YouTube. Even for the cynics, all this was proof that the dilemma of fighting and hustling day and night for a spot in the entertainment industry, the search for recognition, the unabated struggle of people to catch the attention of directors, producers, singers or anyone from the entertainment industry was no longer an issue.
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram have been responsible for helping countless artistes reach superstardom. Having conquered almost everywhere around the world, this trend has slowly worked its way to our country. Some bold and daring Bangladeshis have now ventured into the world of social media entertainment to become the heart and soul, and identity of the new generation of Bangladeshis.
We have entertainers like Salman Muqtadir who started off as a YouTuber uploading humorous videos of him and his crew pulling off pranks on people or addressing issues in such comical manner that he is now one of the most popular celebrities of the country. Moreover, we have BhaiBrothersLtd, The Jhakanaka Production, Gaan Friendz and many more who have not only transformed social media entertainment but have in the process shown light to all those who dream to chase and achieve their goals.
They are the bellwether of change.
One such famous online celebrity who has taken social media by storm is Xefer. Known to the world through her outlandish hairstyle and golden voice, she has broken the old norm of women working in the entertainment industry. Having represented Bangladesh and her music in the international arena, it is surprising to see how fame has not gotten the best of her, as her down to Earth nature testifies.
Xefer started off as a cover artist on YouTube with no such plans of entering the industry. However, people loved and appreciated her videos so much that they became viral and almost everybody shared them on Facebook, helping her catch the attention of many musicians and composers of the country.
That was it; she had broken into the music industry with a big bang!
When asked about the importance of social media, Xefer talked about the series of contribution it has over our lives.
“Social media sites give us such a versatile platform that we are able to showcase our talent and at the same time be independent,” she elaborated.
People have freedom of speech, thus they are able to upload content of any sort encouraging them to dig into their talent and skills and unravel them before the world. You are only one click away to shout out loud, “This is what I am best at! This is what makes me happy!”
When Xefer started off, countless were non-acceptant; others even cynical. Yet, this did not foil her from uploading contents regularly and at one point her fame extended beyond the borders and Xefer was approached for an upcoming Bollywood movie, 'Senapati'.
There are mixed opinions about social media celebrities. Some see them as idols and as people to look up to, but it is not always sunshine and rainbows for these YouTubers. There are some who see them as overdoing their act or being over rated. However, it does not seem to bother them much as Xefer quipped, “I like my haters!” They instead motivate them to keep moving forward, breaking through the walls. They work as impetus.
We should look at these social networking sites as a blessing. We spend hours every day scrolling through our newsfeed, glued to our phone screens. Instead of wasting this social media, we can bring it to use and utilise it. Accomplishing our goals would be fingertips away.
Many like Xefer have discovered this new found fame and many more are learning and making use of it. We live in a time where we can be whatever we want, whenever we want and wherever we want.
Ali Sakhi Khan is a Dhaka based writer for The Daily Star and a fashion blogger. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org