28th June, 2010
A lot of unsavoury comments have been made about the movie industry in Nigeria also known as Nollywood. Most of the comments suggest that the industry is still in the woods in terms of the quality of movies produced and story lines which usually give the viewers an inkling of how the movie would eventually end right from the beginning. Thus the end is predicable from the beginning. So, the issue of suspense does not arise when you are watching some of these films.
The celebration of vices, ill-gotten wealth, negative portrayal of women as husband snatchers or prostitutes and the glorification of fetishism are some of the characteristics of Nigerian movies that put many viewers off. They are the recurrent themes in most movies. This gives away the copycats that abound in the industry.
Although Nollywood is the third largest movie industry in the world, after Americaâ€™s Hollywood and Indiaâ€™s Bollywood in that order, the quality of most movies produced in Nigeria is nothing to write home about. Most of the movies portray Nigeria and Nigerians in very negative light.
One of the problems that bedevil the industry is the negative portrayal of women. The issue was one of the subjects of discussion by women and other stakeholders at a recent forum in Lagos. The forum had as its theme â€˜Women and the Dynamics of Representationâ€™. The two-day conference organised by the African Women Development Fund, AWDF, in collaboration with Lufodo Academy of the Performing Arts, LAPA.
TheÂ forum witnessed various women presenting papers. One of them is Professor Abena Busia whose paper was titled â€˜Women and the Dynamics of Representation: Of Cooking, Cars and Gendered Cultureâ€™. According to her, â€œwe should never underestimate the differences between how we are seen and how we see ourselves, because when it becomes abuse, we fight. Thus a forum such as this must raise acute questions regarding the impact of the production and proliferation of the images that concern us here: the images we produce and promote ourselves and send out to the outside world.â€
A film maker, Emem Isong in her paper challenged women to tell their own stories, while talk show host, Funmi Iyanda, expressed how unhappy she is about the misrepresentation of women in Nigerian movies. Many other contributors like Dr. Bibi Bakare Yusuf, Mrs. Abimbola Fashola, Akin Omotoso, Professor Onookome Okome, Dr. Reuben Abati, Amaka Igwe, Sandra Mbanefo Obiago, Agatha Amata, Ego Boyo, Tunde Kelani, Bunmi Oyinsan and Ireti Doyle share those views.
This paper shares Mahmood Ali-Balogunâ€™s submission that Nollywood needs to raise the standard of its production. NollywoodÂ should reinvent itself. The industry may be big in terms of the number of movies churned out butÂ the standard of the movies is very poor. Charlatans who regurgitateÂ mundane themes and storylines seem to have hijacked the industry. These charlatans flood the market with all kinds of substandard films because of the profit they make at the expense of quality.
Nollywood must wean itself of the primordial depiction of reality through the prism of fetishism, rituals, prostitution, witchcraft, etc. in order to be taken more seriously. It cannot continue to be mired in the past. It is heartwarming that its practitioners think they can bring about a dynamic change our society is yearning for in the industry. They need every support to realise this noble objective.