Nollywood Video Films and the Nigerian Image Crisis: A Study of Ten Films

Nollywood Video Films and the Nigerian Image Crisis: A Study of Ten Films

Anthony Paul Udoh (Department of Communication Arts, University of Uyo, Nigeria) and Anietie Solomon Etteyit (Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic, Nigeria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9821-3.ch008

Abstract

Mass media platforms, especially the video film, have been seen as potent tools for image construction or identity molding of any society. However, there are indications that the Nigerian movie industry has rather magnified the negative aspects of Nigeria, with the resultant image crisis for the country and its citizens. This chapter evaluates the role of Nollywood video films in the image crisis of Nigeria. Ten home videos were purposively selected from the collection of different producers. The findings show that the thematic characteristic styles of Nollywood are largely responsible for the image crisis of Nigeria and do more harm than good to its citizens. From the findings, it was recommended that script writers and movie producers in Nollywood should be alerted to the reality that their movies could negatively impact the image of the society, and should therefore make concerted efforts to mirror more of the positive aspects of the society and avoid creating image crisis for the country.
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Introduction

One of the Characteristics of man is his ability to perceive and form opinion on phenomena within and outside his environment. Man, according to Joseph Brodsky (1987), is what he reads. This could be interpreted to mean that the aggregate of what one reads, forms his worldview of some phenomena read about and also shapes his philosophies. The Greek Dramatist - Menander makes it clearer, arguing that “the character of a man is known from his conversation,” (McNally and Cunningham, 2010). In this context, the onlookers, viewers, spectators or listeners in a conversation create perceptual pictures of or about a person through his speech or what is said about him, which could be in an interpersonal communication, group communication, and organizational communication or through the mass media.

More often than not, the perception about a people, nation, tribe, religion, culture and race among others, are formed based on the media representation since it is almost impossible to have a personal contact with everybody, all races, tribes, nations, cultures and even religions, among others. The perception about a person or people which enables one to make snap judgments and decisions, could sometimes be very subjective. For instance, there are lots of negative impressions about some African countries as well as some third world countries across the world which may not be completely correct.

It is common to hear people make reference to the technological advancement of China, the serenity and tourist attractions of Dubai, the poverty and under-development in some East African countries as well as the crime rate in the United States of America, amongst others. In some situations, the lead discussants in these conversations have never been to the countries so talked about with such confidence, but have formed their opinions based on media representations including through; books/literature, movies, cinemas and cable television. The film format is quite critical in perception molding due to its very nature, which sometimes could make its viewers overrate its fictitious nature, and think it to be the reality.

According to Sunday & Uduakobong (2013), there were occasions when certain film actors/actresses were attacked and/or molested in the public, simply because of the roles they had played in some home videos. It is true that certain characters in the home videos have gained the sympathy of the viewers while others have been seen as villains and have escaped being lynched by the public, when off the stages or theaters. This implies that the viewers do not always separate the actors’ persona from the real persons. If this is the reaction of the audience to the actors, how would the viewers, especially foreigners and nationals react to Nigeria and its people in view of the portrayals and representations they see in the home videos? They further noted that the home video has been one of the popular media towards identity (image) construction, deconstruction and status conferral. Many people (youths and adults alike) have learnt a lot (lifestyle, dressing, language, etc.) from the home videos. The home video truly serves to mould lives indirectly; it is the mirror of our society.

It is therefore expected that Nollywood producers, cognizant of the centrality of the media, especially movies, in identity molding, should have deliberately put together mostly movies that would build a positive image for their society. Although Adenugba (2007) is of the view that the producers of films all over the world use what is in vogue to develop their plots (in terms of messages and themes), in dressing, language and lifestyle amongst others, a producer who is determined to build a positive image for his or her culture or race, could develop a plot on certain latent social phenomena and magnify them to achieve his objectives. It suffices to note that films’ producers are at liberty to project what they deem necessary, to communicate to the viewers/audiences.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Perception: Understanding or interpretation assigned to phenomena by an individual, group or society.

Voodoo: to enchant someone using some form of magic or spell.

Superstition: A belief or set of beliefs that are not based on human reason or backed by science and cannot be proven scientifically.

Witchcraft: The practice of witches, sorcery or supernatural powers to harm others.

Wickedness: An evil disposition towards another or others.

Fetishism: A belief that natural or manmade objects have supernatural powers over people.

Portrayals: A representation or description of a thing or people through the media which includes the video films.

Representation: The created image or picture that substitutes reality of a person or thing.

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