BY TOMILOLA COCO ADEYEMO
“The Will Smith Wants An Oscar Trailer”
That is what a certain foreign news site called the trailer to Academy Award nominee Will Smith’s newest movie, Concussion.
And while we are tempted to agree with it, Mr Smith’s strong effort to sound like a “Nigerian” is very distracting.
Twitter has “bashed” him, social media is not finding it funny and more than one online Nigerian media platform has responded to Will Smith’s portrayal of the Nigerian accent.
But do we blame them?
Especially since Mr Fresh Prince aka Will Smith is not the first culprit.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane – do you remember Monique’s Phat Girlz in 2006?
At the time, Hollywood did not pay Nollywood any attention and Nigerian Artistes weren’t “frosh” as they are now – no overly made up girls in music videos, no champagne because they couldn’t afford it and no women that looked like they forgot their clothes at home – shebi you get it now? Ok.
A certain guy named Jimmy Jean Louis was cast as a Yoruba guy in the movie and even Tuface’s African Queen that was featured as a soundtrack in the movie was not enough reason for us to forgive the butchering and dismemberment of one of Nigeria’s (scratch that, Africa) biggest languages.
And the big question was, were Nigerians so scarce in America they had to cast a not so easy on the eyes terrible Yoruba speaking guy in the role of a Yoruba man? No. Statistics show Nigerians are in every part of the world.
This leads me to several portrayals of African characters by Non-Africans and the disregard for the cultures and languages spoken in several parts of the continent.
Why do these people assume we all sound the same? Why do they feel the need to have a strange accent that sounds like something they purchased in the Sahara Desert? And why the heck can’t they do their homework?
Will Smith is a seasoned actor, but did he forget to do his homework on this one? Chances are that he disregarded that part of his assignment – it is probably not worth it, we kuku all sound like we’re chanting anyway.
And with the clear availability of talented Nigerians (Chiwetel Ejiofor and David Oyelowo being the most notable in recent times) in Hollywood, why didn’t the Director cast someone who at least understands we don’t speak like that?
Like a line said in 1.22 minute in the trailer, “Sometimes in life you’re asked to leave it alone” maybe, just maybe sometimes in this life, Hollywood can leave our accent alone, the way it is and stop forcing a stereotypical portrayal about us for the world to see.
Watch the Concussion trailer here.