For Christopher “Topher” Townsend of Philadelphia, Miss., also a native of Kilmichael, viral fame as a conservative online personality accidentally came from a joke he shared. Townsend, whose platform morphed into a conservative one, didn’t start out as conservative. He just wanted a space to share his views – like most people.
He didn’t even know what a conservative was, until he was called one.
Townsend said when President Donald Trump began talking about the Space Force, he went on TikTok, a social media networking site where people can upload and view short videos, and made the joke that if President Trump was creating the Space Force to sign him up.
“It was my first viral video. It received a million views,” he said.
Townsend, who served in the United States military for six years, said he’s always been vocal about his political beliefs, but he would receive “horrible feedback” on social media for sharing his views, with friends telling him to take down posts he shared on Facebook.
“People don’t always know how to separate the politics from the person,” he said.
Townsend, who worked at Malaco Records in Jackson as a Digital Marketing Strategist, said his second TikTok video responded to someone who misrepresented data. He responded to the video correcting the person.
“I received a lot of good feedback, people telling me it was a great analysis,” he said.
Townsend said on TikTok people can do “duets” or side-by-side videos. Someone responded to him, and he did another video refuting their position.
“It made me realize that there was a need for what I had to say,” he said. “I’d spent six years defending the right for freedom of expression and freedom of speech. I felt like it was a chance for me to speak on what I believe, my beliefs, and my morals.”
Townsend said he had voted Republican before in 2016, but he didn’t identify initially as a conservative.
“My supporters would tell me that I’m a conservative, and I’m like ‘what’s that?’ So, I looked it up, and it was like I was looking into a mirror,” he said.
So, he began to describe himself as conservative.
In today’s political arena, many use the word conservative or liberal to describe the Republican or Democratic Party members. According to dictionary.com, a conservative is a person favoring free enterprise, private ownership, and socially traditional ideas. A liberal is a person favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.
He said since his first viral video, he’s gotten many followers, which has begun to generate funds for his family. Townsend, who’s also a rapper, also gained notoriety from his song “Crews” about Actor Terry Crews, who’s best known for his role in “White Chicks,” “Brooklyn 99,” “The Expendables,” and “Everybody Hates Chris.” Crews has come under fire for many of his opinions and views about the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
“He did a video and put the song in the video. I’ve gotten royalties from streams [people downloading the music to sites such as Spotify or Apple Music],” he said.
Townsend said between his TikTok content, the topics of the videos that he posts, and his music, he’s been able to quit his 9-5 at Malaco Records to work from home.
He said he has 650,000 followers, and to keep up with the content demand, it requires a lot of work.
Townsend said as his fan base grew, he caught the attention of the Washington Post. He said he’s been in a few articles for his political views. He said when the article came out, he received some backlash on Facebook. He said he also has been on Fox and Friends and FoxNews.
Being from Kilmichael and graduating from Montgomery County High School in 2009, he said he didn’t see himself on this path, per se. He figured his music would take off, but he didn’t see himself on the political side of things and want to use his new platform to make a difference.
Townsend said for him and many kids, especially those in the Kilmichael area, he wanted to be like Dr. Katrina Poe. He said he saw the impact she had on the community and wanted to do the same.
“I looked up to Dr. [Katrina] Poe. Like she was a doctor in Kilmichael, and she looked like me,” he said. “I didn’t become a doctor, but in my head, I thought ‘if she can do it, so can I.’”