The Nigerian film industry has come under fire over the warped values it espouses.
Most Nigerians either love or hate Nollywood, with not too many occupying the middle ground.
In primary school, children play clapping games while singing songs about Living in Bondage, considered the first Nollywood blockbuster, and the film that launched the Nigerian cinema industry.
However, as the industry grew, parents began to forbid their children to watch Nigerian movies due to the abundant depictions of rituals or “juju”.
Still Nollywood continued its ascent, and it is not until when a Nigerian goes outside that he realise how much of an influence Nollywood has.
Perhaps Nollywood is so influential because of its shows of wealth, which many living in poverty aspire to, while simultaneously reflecting the realities and challenges of ordinary people as it imparts one moral message or another.
But while many criticise the industry for its obsession with witchcraft, there’s been a lot less criticism about the way in which women are portrayed and treated in these movies.
And when people discuss the female characters, the focus is largely on how scantily dressed they are, and what a bad influence they are on young women.
For a country that prides itself on being morally righteous and religious, you can’t help but wonder what kind of morals most Nollywood movies are trying to communicate.
If Nollywood is a reflection of Nigerian society, then what it reveals doesn’t say much about how Nigerians view women.
Nollywood movies feature heavy doses of sexism that even the least feminist Nigerian is likely to pick up on.
In movies such as Blackberry Babes, White Hunters and Fazebook Babes, women are depicted as cold and two-timing, always in search of a rich man or sugar daddy, thus creating a world in which men are seemingly oppressed by women who use them only for financial gain.
Others do their bit in normalising rape culture in Nigeria and generating sympathy for rapists and abusers.
I have personally sat through movies that had “romantic” storylines in which women fell in love with their rapists!
Assertive women who take matters into their own hands, or who are ambitious and focus on their careers - always get the short end of the stick.
Another trope involves women and abortions. Abortion is illegal in Nigeria, and there are women who go through risky procedures to have them done.
However, in these movies, any woman who has an abortion either dies or ends up unable to have children.
When Nollywood tries to highlight the problem of domestic violence in Nigeria and the challenges faced by abused women, the result usually falls short of the stated aim.
For example, in A Private Storm, the filmmaker draws more sympathy for the abusive husband than for his battered wife.
One has to ask why did the filmmakers chose to tell the story from the male perspective?
A petition in Lagos started by Bayo Olupohunda, is attracting signatures from all over the world, which suggests more people are becoming aware of the problem.
Olupohunda notes that Nollywood “movies are dominated by scenes of sex and extreme violence against women”, and concludes that that Nollywood scripts perpetuate violence against women while cementing the longstanding patriarchal narrative.
While we wait for Nollywood to get it right when it comes to women, we can enjoy filmmaker and video artist Zina Saro-Wiwa’s “alt-Nollywood” short film, Phyllis, a breath of fresh air.
In Phyllis, the tropes concerning women in Nollywood are subverted.
The character Phyllis is a woman who lives alone, making her independent in a country where women who are independent and single still get labelled as “witches” or prostitute.
She is a psychic vampire trying to become human through wigs, Jesus and Nollywood. The supernatural is present in Phyllis - a reference to Nollywood - yet different because the story is told from the perspective of the “witch”.
Phyllis is complex in a way that most Nollywood movies do not have the time for, which I suppose isn’t surprising that it is primarily a money making industry.
I’m not alone in hoping Phyllis provides inspiration for home-based Nollywood filmmakers, though I don’t think Nollywood filmmakers are quite ready to take such a big step.
In the meantime, one can hope that Nollywood 2.0 will turn out to be good news for women in Nigeria as a whole - and will do at least a bit more to challenge patriarchy in Nigeria. (This is Africa)
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Mekus | 5/4/2013 4:10:56 AM
Nigerian movies are very bad 4 children 2 watch it is now becoming highly sopredacious 4 children Reply this thread
beauty | 5/4/2013 4:52:06 AM
I don't see anything wrong with exposing the devil and it's agents by acting the juju and ocultic movies that exists in Nigeria. Reply this thread
Ugo | 5/4/2013 2:33:05 PM |
WWhat abt p**n? Dont u see anything wrong wt that?
Esther | 5/4/2013 4:54:44 AM
Good talk i don't even watch them nollywood fake accent nonsense drama called films let alone allowing my Children to watch it my children don't even knw any of nollywood actors nt 2 talk films. I make sure i supervise any movie they want to watch and nollywood drama is a no no in my house untill they trun 18. Reply this thread
lolo | 5/5/2013 10:44:25 AM |
Me n my dearest lalaa doesn't too we only watch dem when we want to sleep ones we put it sleep come bcoz its so boring n fake n d fakest of all those plays dat d writter mentioned jezz
Mash | 5/4/2013 5:20:43 AM
The things that you mentioned are they facts or fiction ? It is what happens in your society that is acted out in these films,so you should stop living in denial. Reply this thread
Ayi Jaimon | 8/31/2013 4:11:38 PM |
who told you that i s what is happening in Nigeria, lets draw attention to cases where a woman is a widow, every widow is oppressed in our movies, check ur community and where u live, are widows oppressed? And that apart, we don't have actions in our movies, motor accidents are so fake, gun sounds are also very fake, I don't watch Nigerian movies too.
Nana | 5/4/2013 5:28:38 AM
I love watching nigerian movie becos of ma fans Reply this thread
Ayi Jaimon | 8/31/2013 4:19:29 PM |
can u listen to urself, we are talking abt nollywood movie u are there talking abt fans, are u sure u are even up to 18yrs, my frnd wake up and say something reasonable.
tina | 5/4/2013 6:12:35 AM
For those those of u making this comment, every nigeria movies has an age bracket for children to watch it. If u live ur kids who are uder 18 to watch aduld movies wat do u expect. In advance contry kids under 18 are not allow to do dat. Give ur kid good traning and leave nigeria movies alone Reply this thread
Joshua | 5/4/2013 7:04:48 AM
there is a system in place design to disgrace the black women, here in africa and in european countries. these movies are made for the solely purpose to portrait women of colour as desperate, loud, gold-diggers, rude, p********es, undateable, heartless,bad parents etc. this is why many black men date outside their race. the white man desperately need us to save his race from dying out this is why mixrace relationship is encouraged in europe. your head will spin if you know the plan their have for the black women in the future. watch the film 'CHILDREN OF MEN'. .in the film the black women was the only one able to bear a child in the world where no other race of women can. in order for the system to work black men n women must be kept separate. if you don't believe me, do your own research. Reply this thread
Nollywood | 5/4/2013 7:49:11 AM
They are certified as 18 so children should not watch anyway. Reply this thread
Bibian c | 5/19/2013 11:39:43 PM |
Even d ones dt ar meant 4 children undr 13 ar bad also. Nawa o!
Nkem | 5/4/2013 10:10:41 AM
shame unto u, the writer categorically named nollywood plays so why shifting the blame? for how long are we going to blame others for our own generated problems? for once let's be realistic and face the issue as it is and stop this nlame game. Reply this thread
DS | 5/5/2013 4:40:30 AM
Sorry, i must be new to this; but what exactly is this contraption called "nollywood"? Never heard of it! Reply this thread
onius | 5/7/2013 3:16:34 AM
well i say those p**n are bad to children nollywood should do much better than that Reply this thread
illuminati | 5/16/2013 9:26:33 AM
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Ovy bhest | 5/16/2013 10:21:08 AM
Nollywood has turn into something i can't really explain.sex sex sex in every scene.all u young actress ofnow adays are second hand cartridge exposing ur parts 4 money dat wnt take u to heaven. Go and get a life fellas. Reply this thread
activity | 6/4/2013 2:33:45 AM
lol all in d name of makin money, wat a holy s**t is dat Reply this thread
Tochi dozie | 6/9/2013 10:50:47 AM
I a2ruly dnt lyk wot nolly wood r doing, dis movie dat childrn spoilt easly shud b stopd, filmz lyk (black berry bebz, sexy paint,nd mny mor), does movie r corupt 2 childrn, d movie i enjoyd mst s (immaculate hrt, d blind, d great zumba) does movies r vry 1ndrful, stop al dis sexy filmz pls, cuz we r nt Ghanainz Reply this thread
Victor chris | 6/16/2013 11:19:19 AM
Gush!!Gush...i cant believe we are joinin the ghanians in makin corrupt movies Reply this thread
Ray | 12/1/2013 3:28:24 AM
If you don't like your children watching Nigeria movies avoid television in your house....
Movies corrupt children as you feel but don't forget that it also teaches children.
don't criticize Ghanaian for some of their sexual movies,, every movie is good, watch the one you like and leave the rest... we all complain about sex at the end of the day we all poses it... Live long Nigeria movie industry Reply this thread
P | 2/18/2014 1:39:38 PM
Nigerian movies are boooooorrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnggggggggggg jeeeeez!! Reply this thread