I surely have two bones to pick with Nollywood vis-à-vis their bungling cult of mediocrity and their pseudo creativity…
World over, from Hollywood to Bollywood to any other wood except Nolly… Important movies these days are either biographies, autobiographies of a worthy life or historical occurrences and excellent novels being adapted into powerful movies. Also, well thought out philosophical musings are brought to bear on their various nation’s sociopolitical issues. Hence, most of what we’ve seen from America, India, etc, challenge our thoughts, our IQs and all.
But down here, Nollywood, in their stark laziness and uncreative projections, prefer to keep dancing round insipid and same storylines since after Igodo. Worst is their rigidness. If you won’t join their silly scriptwriters association, nothing will come out of your messianic ambition.. Join them, they infect you with their contagious mediocrity.
So, we are inundated with stupid films that insult our senses of literary and aesthetic appreciation. We are suffused with historically and socioculturally distorted movies that question our images, thinking faculties and senses of belonging. These movies, with their poor grammatical deployments both in English and local languages, damage our psyche, albeit gradually, and upholds the slow, indirect reconstruction of our complexes towards the inferior bend.
On Creativity and Pseudo Creativity:
Good and interesting movies have surely graced our TV screens from the handful of creative scriptwriters, directors and producers who are struggling against the overwhelming number of mediocres in the field. Some of their movies have reflected our fears, joys, travails and dilemmas – as a nation, as a culturally peculiar society. But I am worried, also, by the level of outright plagiarism that some of these producers indulge in.
When, sometime last year, I saw The Wedding Party, I had cause to celebrate a seemingly paradigm shift from mediocrity to creativity.
Same goes to when I saw Wives on Strike early this year.
However, my celebratory drum ebbed when I saw the Hollywood movie; Jumping The Broom, produced a year or two before The Wedding Party. I became more disillusioned when I recently saw Chi Raq; another Hollywood movie that came before Wives On Strike. Then it struck me, that the Nollywood makers of The Wedding Party and Wives On Strike relied heavily on the plot and thematic thrust of Jumping The Broom and Chi Raq.
Now don’t get me wrong. It is not bad to do so. In fact, I encourage our people to look Westwards and adapt some of their interesting movies into ones that will reflect our peculiar sociopolitical, economic, cultural and religious experiences. But what I am against is when it is done without discipline; that uncivilized culture of not crediting the source. There’s everything wrong with that and that’s my wahala with the producers of The Wedding Party and Wives On Strike.
In the Literary circle, Ola Rotimi successfully adapted Oedipus Rex into the Yoruba cultural matrix to produce for Africa, the classical The Gods Are Not To Blame that resonates with our sensibilities. Femi Osofisan’s Women of Owu and Who is Afraid of Tai Solarin are African adaptations of The Trojan Women and The Government Inspector, respectively, and these authors made it known from the outset. Even Wole Soyinka did it with his 1973 publication of The Bacchae of Euripides. Novelists like Tayib Salih and Igoni Barrett also did so, successfully. So why shouldn’t our movie makers do the honourable by quoting their sources? Is it as a result of that skewed but entrenched notion that Nigerians are lazy researchers who can never discover such theft? Is it as a result of that hogwash view that our movie lovers do not care about the source and content of the movies they watch? What exactly could have prompted these producers to think that we are daft, lazy and uncritical consumers?
This writer is of the opinion that the producers of The Wedding Party and Wives On Strike depended on the concepts established in Jumping The Broom and Chi Raq to make their own movies. This writer does not think it is wrong to adapt or emulate. However, this writer condemns, in strong terms, the habit of hoarding glories and stark refusal to credit creative sources. It is an honourable thing to do and I enjoin our movie makers, the real movie makers to imbibe that healthy habit.
Our movie makers should also look into our literary basket and savour in the adaptation of the excellent stories so far produced by these cerebral writers who are making Nigeria proud in the global literary scene. I refuse to believe that there are no investors. There are investors but there are no investable storylines.
Hence, I implore our movie makers to look inwards and come up with good story lines. They should work closely with our novelists and playwrights, something healthy must come out of that relationship.
Above all, they should allow newer hands in the game; fresh players bring in fresh innovations.
Meanwhile, every Nigerian should endeavour to see Chi Raq and see how the church and the community coalesced to stand against an ugly trend that threatened their common existence.
They stood up first and called God for support. They didn’t hide in their rooms to invoke God like we do down here.
IFESINACHI, Johnpaul Nwadike is a poet, writer, comedian and rapper. He obtained a B.A in Literature from Imo State University, Owerri and an M.A in Literature from University of Ibadan. When he’s not listening to 2face, Asa or Brymo, he’s reading an African author. He relaxes by looking for trouble.