Themes such as love, abolition of class distinction, fight against HIV/Aids, adultery, craze for wealth, power, fame, rituals, witchcraft manipulation, engagement in nefarious activities, greed, corruption, domestic violence, abuse of women and children’s rights, thirst for political power, poverty, barrenness, and many more dominate Nollywood movies. At the advent of the home video revolution, stakeholders welcomed the idea of being able to tell our own stories to the viewing audience (Nigerians and non-Nigerians alike).
However, the common denominator of flawed scripts, parodies, water shed plots, embarrassing verbal blunder, choppy editing, high predictability rate, abysmal soundtracks, bland, prosaic, monotonous, technologically deficient, formulaic movies have all added to the declining rate at which Home videos are watched. There has been a clamour for movie makers to introduce new dimensions and other positive sides that reflect our society’s norms and values into our stories, and not the promotion of a deluge of negative stories being portrayed about Nigerians to the International communities. I believe however, that the so called negative stories being projected in our movies, (if we must be truthful to ourselves), represents holistically what obtains in our society.
Hollywood itself has produced movies dealing with negative issues in America such as lust for power, greed, corruption (among political office holders, top management of Blue Chip companies, dirty cops), serial killings and various forms of murder, assassinations, rape, use of narcotics and its addiction, hacking into computer systems of government and non-government establishments, robbing of banks, homes, stores, assault and batteries, prostitution, strip dancing, pole dancing, betrayal, nudity, adultery, illicit sex by youths, one night stand practice, car jacking, domestic violence, divorce, separation, and other related vices. Bollywood likewise is not a saint in telling its stories as well, despite the usual romance and dancing strategies synonymous with their movies.
I’m not saying that sticking to the making of vice related movies is good, but we must also note that Hollywood through some well thought out written scripts, relies on its thespians to portray American virtues such as the sharing of strong, deep bond of love for the Nation, family, friends and fellow citizens, which when necessary, means sacrificing one’s life to save the day, promoting and sharing the American dream, exhibiting acts of heroism, as super powers always defeating its enemies, embarking on wild adventures, and discovering new things where others have failed. Hollywood movies stem largely from its wide range of genre on offer, made possible by state of the art technology within their reach.
Nigerians with certitude possess good virtues and there are people who have great stories out there to share but unfortunately aren’t given the opportunity of doing such in an overtly competitive tribalized sector, where people fail to see the bright ideas others can come up with. You’ve got to put your money where your mouth is if you want a good movie free from the cluttered work syndrome. After all, my people have a saying that “soup way sweet, na money kill am” It is however important for our stories to have a “cross appeal” feel, to which people from other countries can easily relate with.
The Re-branding of Nigeria clarion call actively propagated by the Minister of Information, Prof Dora Akunyili, to change the negative mindset/perception the International communities have about the Nation and its citizens, has also clamoured for the production of good movies as a veritable tool in the Re-branding process. The slogan “Nigeria, Good people, Great Nation” is geared at promoting the country and its Citizens image in a new light, and scriptwriters with great imagination are being encouraged to come up with novel stories that would do just that. The question is “where are those with great stories that can achieve this purpose? are they resident in Nigeria or are based in other countries?
Do they strongly share the re-branding passion or do they feel it’s just another political gimmick in the government’s book to draw attention to itself? Has the government set up a “functional, impartial, separate funding scheme”, where funds would be made available to producers to make such movies being canvassed for? What can be done to stimulate the interest of untapped highly talented minds, running with wild imaginations to come forward with great stories, bearing in mind the deceptive webs that they could be caught in, spun by unprincipled, crooked, deceitful practitioners in the Industry? When the proper machineries have been put in place, there would be an equilibrium recorded in the stories told, unlike the present weighty tilt towards the projection of negative issues dominating our screens.