The entertainment industry has witnessed the successes and roles played by women who mirror the society. From the roles women play these days, it is obvious that women have now taken up the challenge of producing and directing, quite unlike their stereotyped roles. Life &Times ex-rays how Nollywood portrays the woman in the light of the different roles they act and as a role models for the African society.
Films according to Ryan and Keller (1988) transpose the discourse of social life into cinematic narratives. They play a notable role in the placement of particular ideologies and values into social thinking and debate. In other words, films, as a popular cultural form, can, as Kuhn (1990) suggests, be regarded as a gauge of social attitudes and change.
Hollywood cinema, through its prolific production and overwhelming synergetic marketing, operates to legitimate dominant institutions and traditional values. Indeed, several schools of thought have argued that most Hollywood films tend to versions of the American dream and dominant America myths and ideologies is that money, success and patriotism are important values.
Issues relating to sex, nudity and crime may be dominant in Hollywood movies, the Americans sure possess a different psychology that appears to suit their history. Attempts by Africans to tow the same line via western influence have often led to alarming consequences on the part of the youth. This is more so because the two traditions don?t blend well.
However, Bollywood, the Indian film industry has an uncommon bias for nudity and semi-nudity are very much biased in the favour of men.
Some experts in sociology who differ on this ground feel that males are no better off in regards to nudity and sex exploitation than women. They argue that men are regularly stripping in clubs and now in movies and in advertisements. Of course, Calvin Klein for instance, modeled by Djimon Hounsou, uses the male sex appeal to sell.
With such debate about the changing face of culture, Bollywood, it appears will continue to push the boundaries of what is acceptable in the cinema and with nudity becoming part of everyday life, it is sure to become more prevalent at the box office. The challenge will be how to draw the line between nudity and obscenity.
How has the Nigerian film industry impacted the sensitivity of the society on the symbol of the African woman? Has the movie industry been able to influence the mind set of the people and facilitate the acceptability of the woman into public offices and positions? Have the movies portrayed the women folk as responsible business leaders, enviable career persons and successful home managers? Without doubt, the answer cannot be loud in the affirmative.
Women have continued to be a sensitive part of the society that should be adequately protected. This stems from the sociological point of view of what the family unit contributes to the society, and in terms of civic responsiveness, decency and sense of traditional values. In this regard, who is believed to be at the most vantage position of a child?s upbringing (they say mothers are closer to the children) The film medium is considered so sensitive in this regard because people tend to believe more in what they see than what they hear. It becomes imperative therefore to assess the content values of most Nollywood movies and see if the woman is portrayed in the light of a role model for the African society.
It is generally believed that an average woman in top position is high handed and often abuses her biblical obligation of ?submissiveness?. What we see in the film entitled Bank manager is a woman who abandons her husband and children due to tasking official duties. Also in Emotional Blackmail, the protagonist refuses his wife to work because he believes she could not control her sexual feelings. When she protested and was eventually allowed to pick up a job, her husband?s fears become justified as she falls in love with a younger man. As much as these are fictions meant to reflect some bad eggs, understood as inevitable in any society, there is little or no effort on the part of the Nigerian filmmaker to balance the attitude of a film character by educating the viewer on the propelling factor, leading to the character?s action. Often times, a character?s attitude is not convincing because obviously, little or no research was done. Such characters in the Bank manager and Emotional Blackmail are the kind of women we see, and that is where the story is not about a widow who is made to lick sour of barbaric tradition. This is not to say that some Nigerian filmmakers are not making efforts to portray the African woman in leading light.
In Agbara Obirin, a Yoruba language flick on politics, an attempt was made. This film explains the society?s disposition to women in politics, exposes the risks and complexities involved while appealing to the understanding and support of the husbands to shun the believe that such women are objects of sex to political leaders. Women?s cot, by Dickson Iroegbu also tried by pitching the ?good? woman with the ?bad? ones in their struggle to alleviate the problems of the widow.
Another movie, the Mourning After, by Jimi Odumosu, shows women from their different professional backgrounds taking their destinies into their own hands. Without the common conflict resolution in the Nigerian movies where by a woman resorts to the pastor, Imam? or a native doctor , we see how women who are schooled and traditionally inclined employing the tools of wisdom, resilience, and knowledge of the law to resolve conflict and coming out victorious.
Tunde Kelani?s movie, entitled Arugba is another of such flicks that suggests that an undergraduate can preserve her virginity because the tradition in her is never lost to the alluring ambiance of the ivory towers, youthful exuberance or peer group influence. There cannot be a better encouragement for girls of school age.
Other than the few movies mentioned is a prostitute, second fiddle, gossip, spendthrift, flamboyant, and materialistic personality. The man on the other hand is often strong, corny and ritualistic.
Nigeria is a country with a peculiar culture and sense of traditional value. It is for this reason that our movies should not be seen as another version of Hollywood style. Effort should be geared towards our sense of national unity and cultural identity.
Our movie should as much as they entertain, also educate. They be capable of molding opinion at the national reorientation. Perhaps this is one reason that the film industry in Nigeria is placed under the Information Ministry; a ministry that is led by professionals to be able to change the image of the country, which in the view of foreigners is a nation of fraudsters and voodooists. Let our movies promote unity in diversity; let our movies portray us as a people with a cultural of national pride; a people with sense of shame; a place of succor for women and children, and a land where men are hardworking, protective and patriotic.