This study examined perception and analysis of themes in Nollywood films in English in Nigeria.
The study used survey and content analysis methods.
It was revealed that, Nollywood films in English reflected trends in society within the period under study; there has been thematic repetitiveness in Nollywood films in English; Nollywood films in English have to a great extent portray societal reality in the minds of the audience through their movies; the perception of the audience on sex, fetishism, violence and other negative themes in Nillowood films and revealed the way women are treated and portrayed in Nigerian films as prostitutes, the use of charm to love, among others which has affected the perception of the audience in reality.
The study concludes that, Nollywood films generally have the inherent characteristics of the Nigerian society. The thematic preoccupations and the meanings of film narratives can only be understood within the context of their culture. Generally, the viewer perceives in Nollywood films the unique aura of the ideologies and belief systems which constitute the Nigerian society.
The study further recommended that; Nollywood filmmakers should try as much as possible to always depict the true Nigerian cultures in their movies; the Nigerian government and the private business sector must intervene to provide adequate funds to facilitate the production of quality films that will depict a good representation of the image of the country and the development of the industry; Nollywood films should portray themes like sex, fetishism, violence and other negative themes as harmful and bad through their movies in order to imbibe a culture of good perception of it in the minds of the audience; Nollywood filmmakers should always be creative and innovative when it comes to finding a theme for their movies so as to avoid a repetitive theme that the audience can easy predict.
1.1. Background to the Study
The Cinema of Nigeria dates back to the late 1960s as the business of filmmaking expanded with increased investments in production and intense distribution networks. It was in the 1990s when Nollywood began its rise to recognition across the world, (Haynes, & Okome, 2017). Although the Nigerian cinema culture cannot be compared to Hollywood, it is constantly improving with great potential of being more widely recognized. Although, there is a great deal of inspiration from Hollywood that can be seen in Nollywood films, from the production, distribution, storylines, and characterizations, (Shaka, 2013)
The Nigerian film industry, also known as Nollywood, is Africa’s most prevalent movie activity in both the number of productions and value, roughly producing between 1,000 and 1,500 movies annually. Nollywood is making its mark in the film business. According to the article, “Nigeria’s Film Industry: A Potential Gold Mine”, Rebecca Moudio (2013) states, “The Nigerian film industry, also known as Nollywood, produces 50 movies per week, second only to India’s Bollywood- more than Hollywood in the United States.
The rising popularity of Nollywood, the Nigerian film industry, is increasing the level of scholarship with several researchers investigating the genres, production, distribution and challenges faced by the films within the country, region and diaspora. They also highlight the revenue generated annually, the number of films produced, as well as the themes and storylines of Nigerian films (Ebewo, 2014; Haynes & Okome, 2017, Obayiuwana, 2011).
Literature on Nollywood ranges from the historical aspects of the industry to the themes, plots, production and distribution of films for local and global audiences. The films have been a source of expressing and understanding the Nigerian culture as well as an influence on the lifestyles of Nigerian people, (Oguine, 2012). For many years, Nigerian films have been based on storylines showing constant tragedy, romance, violence, drama and comedy that arouses the viewers mind, (Highet, 2010). Whether the main character is going through constant tragedy to end up triumphant or the characters are caught in a love triangle, there are always high drama plots to keep the audience interested. Within these themes many of the films include multiple storylines combined into one film, (Akpabio, 2013)
With several studies done in the past about the emerging Nollywood film industry, one in particular is “The Emerging Video Film Industry in Nigeria: Challenges and Prospects”. In this study, Ebewo (2014) focuses on the challenges the industry has faced for the thematic obsession and repetitive themes for storylines. The Nigerian film industry is viewed in both positive and negative ways. Some find the plots to be highly repetitive and unrealistic, while others see them as expressions of the African culture. Despite the many perceptions Nollywood carriers, the industry manages to defy the odds with new thought provoking films and high production quality. Williams (2002) opined that Nollywood use themes from local realities to tell the Nigerian storey and use the cultural identity of the country to address local social issues.
In recent times, the dominant Nollywood themes that are common are sex, ritualism, romance, cultism, love, promiscuity, relationship and violence. The producers are sometimes exaggerating these issues. Although the producers claimed to be using their movies to discourage social vices in the society, as stated by cultivation theory, audience cultivate some values or do learn, and they through the media adopt what they learnt from the movies into their social reality, to say that the negative values from Nollywood are not in being imbibed by the audience is to deny the undeniable fact. However, these movies can send a wrong message to the public about the country. It can portray the country in a bad light, like ritualism. People outside the country seeing the movies may think that is all the country is made of and in that sense would have a terrible image of the country and would fail to see the country for what she truly is.
Many Nollywood movies have themes that deal with the moral dilemmas facing modern Africans. Some movies promote the Christian or Islamic faiths, and some movies are overtly evangelical. Others, however, address questions of religious diversity, such as the popular film Not Without My Daughter, which is about a Muslim man and a Christian woman who want to marry and came face-to-face with many obstacles. Many of Nollywood's films deal with AIDS, corruption, women's rights, and other topics of concern to ordinary Africans. A lot of stories are centred on a ritual that has to be performed, such often involving bloodshed and human sacrifice, (Nwuneli, 2013).
Therefore, it is on this background that, this study will be conducted to investigate the perception and analysis of themes in Nollywood films in English, using students and non-academic staffs of Redeemers University Ede, Osun State as the study case.
1.2. Statement of the Problems
The boom in Nollywood films productions and the corresponding audience interest have attracted a lot of attention to the sector. There is hardly any newspaper in Nigeria that does not devote space to this phenomenon. A lot has been written on the technical quality and thematic of the home video productions. The slants of the comments have always been against the emphasis on sex, violence, fetishism and other negative tendencies. Similarly, the production quality of these films has as well been severely criticized, (Sonuga & Udomisor, 2012).
Akande (2009), Balogun (2005) and Iroh (2009) have condemned the overall quality and narrative value of Nigerian films for several additional reasons. In Iroh (2009), for instance, condemns the “poverty of creativity, ideas, innovation and a coordinated strategic plan” in the industry. On the other hand Akande (2009), believes that the content of Nollywood films is predictable and always revolves around topics like “conflict between mothers-in-law and their son’s wives, scenes dealing with police battling criminals, burial and consultations with native doctors, and so on.”
Furthermore, the industry has been accused of over emphasizing negative themes. According to the National Film and Video Censors Board, the industry regulatory body, in its guidelines for motion picture producers called for productions to be above board in portrayal of violence, crimes, sex and pornography, vulgarity, obscenity, religion and other sensitive subjects (NFVCB 2000). In addition, the board, in a warning notice titled “The Need for a New Direction in Nigerian Film Content”, decried the emphasis on negative themes, which led to the ban on “I hate my village” for promoting cannibalism and failing to uphold Nigeria’s cultural values. The board as well placed bans on seven films such as Shattered Home, Outcast 1 & 2, Night Out (Girls for Sale), Omo Empire, Issakaba 4, Terrorist Attack and Unseen Forces as a result of limitless freedom and lawlessness by our movie makers, which is drowning the industry with mostly repetitive or recycled films on a few themes that hinge on sex, rituals, blood and gore, (Akpabio, 2013).
Similarly, it was also lamented that, the emphasis on given to negative themes have given the country a bad image: “You can have stories that talk on things like voodoo however when it is overdone and made the centre of any offering, that is when it turns out to be a problem simply because the more people see it, the more they will think that the country is all about voodoo practice, (Anyiam-Osigwe, 2011). Another feature that portrays the negative image of the Nigerian society is the way women are treated and portrayed in Nigerian films. Scantily scalded ladies with seductive make-up and appeal adorn the posters and jackets of many films. As a matter of fact, such form the popular content of many films. Often the films would feature single girls who do not keep a single relationship but for fancy and greed would keep a school of lovers who provide their every need and whims. These ladies live life to the fullness ·on the bill of their boyfriends who soon discover their charm or juju, including their affairs with many other men and as a result withdraw their patronage, leaving them with nothing. These ladies are usually prostitutes in the guise of working class ladies or socialites, (Musa, 2012).
In spite of these negativities, new video films are released on daily basis into the market thus necessitating this study. Therefore, the study sought to answer the question: What is the perception of the audience to the themes in Nollywood Films in English?
1.3. Research Objectives
The general objective of this study is to investigate the perception and analysis of themes in Nollywood Films in English. More specifically, the study sought to:
- find out the extent to which nollywood films in English have reflected trends in society within the period under study.
- know the extent of thematic repetitiveness in nollywood films in English
- know how precisely themes in nollywood films in English depict societal reality.
- determine the perception of the audience on sex, fetishism, violence and other negative themes in Nollywood films in Nigeria.
1.4. Research Questions
To achieve the objectives of the study, the research sought to answer the following questions:
- To what extant has Nollywood films in English reflected trends in society within the period under study?
- What is the level of thematic repetitiveness in Nollywood films in English?
- How has the themes in Nollywood films in English depict societal reality?
- What is the perception of the audience on sex, fetishism, violence and other negative themes seen in Nollywood films in Nigeria?
1.5. Scope of the Study
This study examines the perception and analysis of themes in Nollywood films in English. The scope of this study is limited to students and non-teaching staff of Redeemers University, Ede, Osun State, Nigeria, and will be confined to Nollywood films in the English Language. The reason for this selection is because, the respondents come from the variegated segments of the Nigerian society, cutting across religion, gender, social background and culture, and therefore, their opinion will help in making generalization about the results from the study. The research work will be carried out using a primary data in which data will be gathered using a self-structured questionnaire. The movies to be used for this study will range from movies produced from the period of 2009 to 2019, top best and popular movies of the year.
1.6. Significance of the Study
The findings from this study will help to highlight those areas where there are issues in scripts and thus will be of great benefit to writers, storytellers, Nolloywood actors and actresses, film producers, industry as a whole, government and society at large. The results of this study would hopefully be significant in the sense that it would enable movie stakeholders put in place necessary measures that will help guide, monitor, and restrict the negative impacts of films before been released to the public for viewing.
Finally, this study will be a supplement to the existing literature in the field and an additional scholarly work on Nollywood films in the English Language.
1.7. Limitation to the Study
Several limitations will be encountered during the course of carrying out this research. Firstly, respondents may not be willing to give answers to some questions in the questionnaire which might lead to incomplete information, which may form a hindrance to this study. Secondly, as a result of financial and time constraint, the sample frame will be restricted to only one tertiary institution environment in Ede, Osun State. However, the respondents will be students and non-academic staffs who are most likely to be around during the period which the study is carried out.
1.8. Operation Definition of Terms:
Film: also called movie or motion picture, is a visual art used to simulate experiences that communicate ideas, stories, perceptions, feelings, beauty or atmosphere by means of recorded or programmed moving images along with other sensory stimulations.
Nollywood: is the colloquial name given to the Nigerian film industry. Alex Eyengho defined Nollywood as ‘the totality of activities taking place in the Nigerian film industry, be it in English, Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, Itsekiri, Edo, Efik, Ijaw, Urhobo or any other of the over 300 Nigerian languages.
Themes: is a subject of discourse, discussion, meditation, or composition; topic. It is the idea, premise, or purpose of a movie. It is the whole reason why movies are made.The theme is the heart of the movie. The theme regulates the movie. The theme is why people go to the movies.
1.9. Organization of Chapters
This study is organized into five main chapters. Chapter two consists of the literature review that reveals the findings and research that already exists on the topic. Chapter three summarizes the scope and methodology used to organize and carry out this study. The discussion of the results after analysis of the findings and comparison to the information revealed within the literature review is conducted within Chapter four. Chapter five provides a summary of the study, its limitations and further recommendations.