An Islamic cleric, Imam Memood Mushood, while urging Nigerian actresses to teach morals through their acting in a chat with nigeriafilms.com, was quoted as saying "... these actresses are talented, no doubt about that, but what we expect them to teach young ladies in the society is not what they are doing.
Most ladies of this generation don't attend lectures where they can hear the word of God, but they watch films which have a lot of influence on them. That is why the actors have a vital role to play in reshaping our society."
There were times when promiscuous dressing in Nigerian movies used to be indecency and immorality, but today, without doubt, such dressing have become a fashion trend. Not that alone, it has come to represent some form of civilization. This brings nothing but derisive laughter. Those that have not been swept away by this torrent of decadence cannot but ask: where is civilization in eroding out good culture with unfamiliar, foreign and alien culture?
Those were the good old days when we would watch Saint Obi, Olu Jacobs, Pete Edochie, Joke Silva and Eucharia Anunobi, to mention but a few, and deduce significant lessons from not just their actions and messages, but even from their sense of dressing. The aura of sophistication, yet with the apparent modesty they portend, cannot be easily erased from our memories.
These days for instance, Nigerian films with the two famous actors popularly (some would say notoriously) referred to as "Aki and Pawpaw", are usually films that teach people, especially kids, how to play tricks through dubious means; telling lies, bullying and sometimes total disrespect for the elderly in society. Such films when shown on television mostly viewed by the youth and little kids, eventually teach the young in society bad morals. Examples of such films include, "Baby Police", "Green Snake", and "Show Bobo", just to mention a few.
The present collaboration between Nigerian and Ghanaian movie industries is not helping matters either. It has even augmented the proliferation of decadence perpetuated by their inglorious productions. Now, competition between the two movie industries is doing nothing substantially beneficial; rather it is escalating the unacceptable standards of immorality and indecency in the country.
Some of us still reminisce about the good old days when parents and their young siblings would sit together in their living room and watch a Nigerian movie. Today, how many of such morally uplifting movies are in the industry? Or as a parent, would you sit down and watch, say "Four Can Play" together with your children? Or can we as siblings watch, say "Game" together with our parents? With or without allusions, the fact lies right in our front and if we won't deceive ourselves, we can and we will see it!
Today, it is hard to fathom the differences that exist between some scenes in some Nigerian movies and some amateur pornographic movies. Let us face the fact: some Nigerian movies depict more body- exposure scenes than some Hollywood movies. And for those that seek comparison between Nollywood and Hollywood movies, we should ask them what about the disparities in our cultures, norms and values?
In a world where children are exposed to immorality from a tender age, the least expected from the movie industries is not to pollute the environment with more obscenity and uncouth trends in the name of civilisation.
Imitation of action films as portrayed by American movies is another area where the Nigerian movie industry has gotten it wrong. Much glorification is accorded to persons that grow up in dunghills, usually the Bronx, or some other ghetto, but find their way to affluence regardless of the means used in accruing such ill-gotten wealth. A lucid example is a case where a character had been exposed to abject poverty but somehow now happens to find a quick-way-out, mostly through armed robbery, drug trafficking or rituals.
Although, the movie might sometimes try to point out the perils of such act by depicting what such persons might encounter later in life (more like karma). However, what sticks in the memory of an average poverty-stricken viewer is the affluence gotten through the short-cut route. After all, it is clear that such characters will always find a way out of the perils that will befall them later as a result of their means of accruing such wealth. That is what Nigerian movies teach us. That no matter the magnitude of your evil, when you repent, there is always a way out. In reality however, how many people get the chance of repenting and turning a new leaf?
The writer is of the Department of Mass Communication, Bayero University, Kano.