March 12, 2015 by Kambili M.A. Chimalu
I have had a few friends accuse me of being unpatriotic, so after examining my life, I asked myself, “Self! How can you make your blood run greener?” I was forced to acknowledge that I haven’t displayed fervent patriotism and admiration for the marvelous institution that is Nollywood. A lot of people delight in highlighting all the faults Nollywood possesses, so I have decided to be more patriotic by using my expertise to highlight all the reasons why Nollywood should be a revered institution.
I have taken the liberty of outlining the reasons why we MUST love Nollywood and to offer a scathing rebuke to the naysayers and half-baked critics:
- The Crappy Quality: Other people may demand excellence from their movie makers, but not us. There is a certain sense of satisfaction we derive from enjoying the low quality, strain-your-ears-to-hear, grab-your-glasses-to-view, grainy quality of the movies. The excellence that is the sound track drowning out the dialogue, the improperly placed microphone causing an-eye-scratching inducing sound, the background conversation between Emeka the cameraman and his business associates, and the stone-age level cinematography are all we have come to love from the quality of our Nollywood films.
- Blatant Plagiarism: Now, when other movie industries want to repeat a story that has already been told, it is called a remake, but Nollywood prefers good old fashioned blatant plagiarism. Imitation is the best form of flattery, yes? We cannot help but adore the boldness with which this plagiarism is carried out. We must applaud people like Rukky Sanda, who courageously admit to their plagiarism and lack of originality. We have movies like Red Hot starring Ini Edo and Clems Ohameze and One Night Stand starring Juliet Ibrahim that were copied from Bollywood and Hollywood movies respectively. The fact that we have seen the originals of Nollywood’s copy does not matter. After all, the imitation is always better than the original.
- Mediocre Storylines: Who says that a story has to make sense? Don’t listen to those wanna-be critics hoping for stories that have a beginning, middle, and end. The chaos that is the different stories hijacked from different sources, but never truly fully incorporated is the foundation of the movies we have come to love. What does it matter if the first part of the movie claims that Character A, John, has just come back from France with an American-I-wanna-gonna accent, but halfway through the story, character A has become Doe, who just returned from his trip to Kafanchan with a British accent? If the writers, directors, etc. cannot keep track of the story, we must appreciate the dedication required to master that level of mediocrity.
- Overuse of Themes: A specific theme may come up now and again in other movie industries, but we must exult Nollywood’s perfection of the art of flogging the theme-horse to death. Nollywood does not just beat the horse to death. The horse is beaten to death, resurrected and beaten to death again. When there is no more flesh to be flogged to death, the bones are gathered up and flogged to life, then death again. Take for instance the advent of the epic movie narrative. When Igodo was released, its success led to numerous movies dealing with the same theme: seven virgins trying to save/find the egg of life, seven children trying to free their village from a curse, seven men trying to impregnate the oracle, etc. This did not just happen with the epic movie. The advent of the “occultic-blood-ritual” movie also caused a similar trend. Every other movie became a tale of two friends trying to get rich quick by joining a cult and then later repenting. We cannot but love seeing the same themes over and over and over and over and over again.
- Glossing Over Important Issues: We also must commend Nollywood on excelling in glossing over important issues. It takes serious skill and effort to raise important issues like domestic violence and rape, and then gloss over it. The way domestic violence is glossed over is nothing short of miraculous. We see instances of domestic violence glossed over with the woman “praying” for her husband and the husband finally “repenting” and seeing the error of his ways. The movie A Few Good Men expertly tackles the issue of rape by punishing the rapist with a deserved punch and graffiti of the word rapist on his car. This punishment is too harsh and unwarranted because we love movies, Knocking on Heaven’s Door/Keeping My Man/etc., that do not even acknowledge the severity of domestic violence and rape (spousal rape inclusive).
- The Forced Phonetics: For us ordinary citizens, our command of the I-Just-Got-Back-Accent is abysmal, so we appreciate the effort our actors and actresses are putting into sounding American or British. We appreciate their tenacity in reminding us never-been-outside-the-country Nigerians that our regular accent is unworthy even if they end up sounding like caricatures while trying to bite off their tongues in the everlasting quest for THE accent. Do we mind that this forced phoney often leads to numerous gbaguns? Do we mind that this forced phoney often makes the actors’/actresses’ words unintelligible? The answer to all these questions is a resounding NO!
- The-Every-Tom-Dick-and-Harry-Is-An-Actor-Syndrome: We admire the fact that in Nollywood, everyone, along with his/her cousin, is an actor. Are you a reality TV star, whose claim to fame is spending three months in a house with people from other parts of the country? No worries, you are an actor. Are you a musician, whose claim to fame is one hit party song? Don’t miss your calling because you are really just an actor. The everyone-is-an-actor-syndrome being the backbone of our movie industry is exactly the reason why we enjoy the numerous uninspired and wooden performances that emanate from these non-actors.
- Same Actors/Same Storylines/Different Actors/Same Storyline: If it is not broken …? We all know that sticking with the winning formula is the mark of excellence, so Nollywood’s mission of using the same actors in the same roles must be applauded. I forget how many times Pete Edochie played the head of the occult or king of the village roles, but repetition is the route to perfection. It is in this vein that we must commend the perfection that is Ramsay Noah/Omotola/Emeka Ike, Ramsay Noah/Genevieve/Emeka Ike, Emeka Ike/Rita Dominic/Ramsay Noah, Ini Edo/Jim Iyke/Stephanie Okereke, Van Vicker/Yvonne Nelso/Majid Michel, in all the different incarnations of the rich girl, poor boy or rich prince, servant girl storylines.
- Infinite Parts/Seasons: We cannot express our love for the infinite parts in Nigerian movies enough. The filmmakers heard our cry of never wanting the wonderfully mediocre movies to end and we cannot thank them enough for that. Parts now run from one to 8 or possibly 20. To accommodate these many parts, part 1 is just the commercial, part two the opening credits, part three the exposition, part four the flashback of part three, part five the flash-forward of part six, part six the flashback of part five, part seven the closing credits, and part eight a screen shot of the phrase “To God be the Glory.” Now, we are slowly transitioning from parts to seasons, so we now have seasonal dramas that run for about 30minutes. Do we care that normal serialized narratives have at least 10 1-hour episodes per season? Nollywood excels in blazing new trails and 30-minute seasons is the way forward.
- The Titles: I lack the words to describe how much we love the titles that are selected for our movies, so I will just list a few of them: I am a Virgin; Disvirgined Virgin; Shy Virgin; My Virginity My Pride; Sacred Virgin; Body of a Virgin; Virgin Prostitute; Agony of a Virgin; Dorobucci Love; Blackberry Babes; Facebook Babes; Chisom the Rice Seller; Plantain Girl; Mama Okey Onye Npiakasi; Ada Mbano in America. I don’t know what the fascination with virgins, virginity and social media, is, but I can authoritatively say that we are fascinated as well, so we are still waiting for titles like “My Grandmother the Virgin” and “Instagram or Vine Babes.”
P.S: We will like to use this opportunity to ask Kunle Afoloyan and his cohorts to desist from degrading the standard of perfection that has taken Nollywood decades to build. Their insistence on good storylines, excellent cinematography, and great directing do not measure up to the standard we expect from Nollywood.
Disclaimer: In true Nigerian fashion, I must confess that I have not been paid by any “ogas at the top” to make this ode to Nollywood public, but I will not object to someone passing me a Ghana-must-go bag full of Naira notes under the table.