BY RUTH CHOJI
As much as Nigerians love Nollywood and their movies, parents are becoming steadily wary of the prominence being given to immorality through X-rated films lately. In this report, Ruth Choji examines the place of regulating and censorship agencies in sanitising the industry.
Having become the second largest film industry in the world, most viewers are of the opinion that Nollywood movies would have risen beyond a certain level of immorality and barbarism that could be considered averagely above board. They are daily descending into immorality that is polluting the mind of young audience who are the majority viewers.
Nigeria, nay Africa in general, value the issue of morality because it is embedded in their socio-cultural lives and this includes norms, values, taboos and beliefs. Juliet Chinasa, an actress who spoke with Leadership Sunday on immorality in Nigerian movies, stated that, “the world has changed and people are more interested in explicit content. They want to see beautiful women with beautiful bodies. Ours is still better because we don’t make love in movies or parade our nakedness. We just wear skimpy dresses and kiss once in a while. This does not mean we are immoral. After all, these things actually happen in secret, even the children know most of the things they see. It is up to parents to control what their children watch, ours is to entertain.”
Another aspiring actor who spoke with LEADERSHIP Sunday is Anita Daniel and she said, “yes I want to be a star but I won’t expose my body to make it in Nollywood. Those who do it are desperadoes. It is against our beliefs and culture. In fact, my father will kill me if he sees me parading naked in films. He doesn’t even like Nigerian movies because of what he sees on TV. I won’t give him reason to ban me from acting.”
Evangelist Peter Ali, who has produced two Christian movies stated that, “immorality in movies was what pushed me to the industry. I don’t like what I see in our secular films and I feel this is one way I can propagate the word of God. The youths need to know that you can watch a movie and enjoy it without learning bad things. The power of television has brought a lot of changes, some for good and some for bad and it is worse in the lives of the teenagers. I don’t like it when I see our movie actors act nude or half naked, smoke weed and also portray some funny behaviours; children watch and pick these habits. A director does not have to use such things to make his film sell. So, when you talk of censorship, it must start with self; that is the director himself must know what is right and wrong, what the society expects from him and what he will like to see his children watch and learn.
There must be a desire to do the right thing without debasing or lowering the taste of the films. Movies to me are supposed to be channels of promoting societal values and norms. Most of these directors allow such things because they want to sell their movies. But it is not all about the money. If you notice, you will see that young people now believe in getting rich quick or die trying because that is what they see on TV. Another problem is that the actors themselves love wearing such clothes. On most sets, the producer and director don’t have a say over what the actors wear because they don’t have money to buy the kind of clothes they would want them to wear and so, they overlook such things.
What I believe is that films are meant to educate, socialise and play a therapeutic role in the lives of the audience. Unfortunately, that is not the norm today as most of our movies are based on sex, violence, fetishism, occultism, voodoo, prostitution, sibling rivalry, evils of polygamy, devilish spiritualism and rituals or juju, black magic, sorcery, ritual murder, witchcraft, obscenity, kidnapping and money worship. It is wrong and the producers must stop it. They have the final say because if they don’t produce movies, the actor won’t become an actor. They should be the first censors before the actual censors board can come to play.”
Also speaking on the issue, a lecturer of mass communication, Abdullahi Garba also stated, “I am also worried over the content of our local movies.
What these actors don’t understand is that some audiences hardly can differentiate the disparity between “on-the-screen” character and “off-the screen” character. Most times, they have the perception that the nude display in movies is the natural behaviour of their favourite actors. So, naturally, they want to emulate them. People in Africa attach much importance to dignity and respect in our culture but some local home videos seem to be stereotypical of lack of dignity for womanhood. For a good producer who is concerned with the content of his movies, he must know whether his movie has an educational or entertainment value, apart from promoting Nigerian culture, unity or interest, he or she must also ensure that the movie does not undermine national security, reinforce corruption, does not glorify violence and will not promote African heritage to ridicule. That the movie will not encourage illegal or criminal acts, religious and ethnic discrimination, blasphemy or obscenity nor indecent, or likely to be injurious to (public or private) morality or be filled with nakedness, half nakedness or other acts of nudity that appeal to sexual desire of viewers.
When movies like Domitilla, Glamour Girls, Room 027 where an actor grabbed the boobs of the actress and the other actor was shown in scenes like making love to an actress are few examples among many others. It tells you that we are getting it wrong. Every producer must take into account the cultural disposition of our society before producing their movies. We must go back to the beginning where movies were produced to teach the society lessons, not to corrupt them. Parents must also restrict TV time and watch the movies before allowing their children to view it. Parents must also turn off the TV in the night or select channels that their children would watch even when they are not there.
A cross-section of Nigerians opined that although the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) have been mandated to issue out licenses, monitor, regulate and conduct research in broadcasting in Nigeria, the rate at which producers churn out X-rated movies that erode our values and beliefs have made their work more herculean. They are of the view that the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) must rise to the occasion and start enforcing laws while prosecuting those caught in the act.
Pastor Timothy Goyit, a psychologist and pastor with Living Light And Truth Assembly in Masaka, Nasarawa State, contends that movies, whether Nigerian or foreign, that contain excessive amount of violence watched by children, can make them have less empathy; they will also want to use aggression to solve their problems than dialogue. Such people become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others and may be harmful towards others. They are also more likely to hit people who annoy them, argue, disobey rules and leave tasks unfinished. But Jesus said in the book of Matthew 15:10, ‘it is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man but what proceeds out of the mouth.’ On the case of nudity in movies, God himself made clothes for Adam and Eve so that they could be covered in (Gen. 3:21). So, why should we allow our actors and actresses to be exposing themselves on TV? Christians must reject public displays of nudity on television. The eye is the light of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye watches bad things, your whole body will be affected (Matt. 6:22-23). St Paul warns us that “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’” (1 Cor. 15:33). When we watch nudity on TV, we expose ourselves to things that can make us sin.”
Mallam Abdulazia Yahaya, a Muslim cleric, also stated that, “television viewing is sinful in Islam, it is believed that there is no film that does not have music in it and Islam forbids listening to music. It is Kabirah (great) sin. The female voice in Islam, is Satar, it is to be concealed and men are not supposed to hear it. The Qur’an also states that, ‘and among mankind are those who purchase idle tales so as to lead astray (others) from the Path of Allah. And, they make a mockery of the Laws of Allah.’ Islam also forbids listening and watching fiction that will not let people live in reality to gain Allah’s Pleasure by fixing the gaze on the hereafter and not on the TV screen. Islam demands the concealment of the female body. The Messenger of Allah (SAW) further said that, ‘woman is an object of concealment, not an object of immorality and immodesty, we all know that movies show immodesty and immorality in them and The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “Shamelessness (immodesty) is vice, and vice will be in the fire”.
This article was first published by Leadership.ng