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Nollywood and Its Critics: A Critical Overview

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Evolution mandates that things change and that things do not remain the same for too long, and it does this to prevent extinction and redundancy. Film evolution is often dictated by the era, the technology, the taste of the audience, and the creative madness of creatives living in that era.

Part of the listed reasons above for the film evolution seemed foreign to Nollywood. Nollywood found itself in an era where creatives needed to simplify their madness for the general public. In another era, it found itself lagging technologically in the film space and became the butt of jokes among other films. In another era, Nollywood struggled to match the refined taste and sense of a new generation of audience. As all these things happened, Nollywood’s critics failed her.

However, as I began to write this article, it somewhat dawned on me that as one who had always loved the big and small screens, the critic’s problem was that they were not accessible. It also dawned on me that such an excuse should be nonexistent in this new age when Nollywood finds itself.

Nollywood is an era where not only has its technological taste been refined, but it has listened to the complaints of its audience, and let the madness of its creatives shine through on both the big and small screens, but yet something still lacks! And for some reason, it terribly pisses me off.

From a distance, everything seems well with Nollywood, but her critics are often found lacking. The second half of a common local phrase says, “…Dem no dey see am for face.” And this aptly describes what ails Nollywood.

Its Critics.

Specifically, Nollywood’s homegrown film critics who understand the tradition, and culture of the climate where the films are being produced. When Nollywood lets its movies be criticized by foreign critics who have no basic understanding of the film culture of the industry, it invites half-baked, culturally baseless, and lack, unnecessarily oily egusi-like criticism.

For there to be a change, there has to be an abundance of critics familiar with the Nigerian culture. An abundance of these critics in Nollywood ensures a change of path where Nollywood no longer has to repeat its past mistakes.

This is what critics are for. To endure that art media grows in abundance, that every medium of art is protected from those who would do it harm. Art is perfection in imperfection, and critics let us know this. They critique the imperfections, and further polish the perfections.

This is what Nollywood has missed. This is the reason why for a long time there was little to no growth in the industry barring of course the other issues plaguing it. Critics are a necessary part of the ever-running multi-billion media medium engine that is Nollywood, which makes the continual criticisms of critics the oil that keeps this vast engine running smoothly. Without it, the engine clogs, and functions improperly before falling apart.

More so, another reason why there seemed to be a shortage of critics was the inaccessibility of them in mainstream media. Still, when critics went mainstream, their criticisms were always one-sided, incoherent, pointless, and baseless.

Even recently, an online publication criticized a couple or more Nollywood movies, and the five to ten-line criticisms were tasteless. If truly those were supposed to be criticisms of Nollywood movies and shows written by a supposed avid of Nollywood, then it was no better than the incoherent and formless ABCs of a toddler.

Criticism is not a job for the unlearned or the unfamiliar. It is a job that can shape the opinions and strategy of audiences all across the world, as we’ve seen with a particular critic organization whose reviews have had an impact on the audience’s opinions and the performances of movies at the box office.

Although one can’t blame the shortcomings of such movies on them, as some of the movies were particularly horrible to watch, on the other hand, they have also had a hand in the destruction of spectacular movies that didn’t fit the taste of their homegrown critic.

A little while back, it was exposed that the aforementioned described critic organization was owned by a large media conglomerate, which makes one wonder if that did not cloud their little critic brains.

The Nigerian film industry has been on the roll when it comes to the establishment of various bases for critics, vastly different from the watered-down version of critics, criticisms, and reviews Nollywood is used to having, and they have had a large impact on the trajectory Nollywood finds itself moving towards today.

Dare I say that Nollywood’s audience is its greatest critic? Yes, I dare say it. Not after witnessing how the audience tore apart Chief Daddy 2. That in my opinion began the renaissance of modern criticism in Nollywood. Not just any audience, but a well-informed audience, an Afro-modernistic audience that sees the growth of Nollywood’s counterpart and wants to infuse that growth into Nollywood traditionalism.

Like the Nigerian Music Industry, I believe Nollywood is already finding her feet, and previous years have been proof of that. Nollywood traversed beyond borders and imagination with a handful of films and shows like; the folkloric and fantastic The Lost Okoroshi, Mami Wata and Epic Fantasy, Jagun Jagun. Not just those, but the ironic and sarcastic take of gangsterism in Nigerian politics, Gang of Lagos, the brutally politically charged Shanty Town, and the latest record-breaking Tribe of Judah. All of the aforementioned films have one thing in common.

They are all critically acclaimed. And critical acclamation can only stem from a refined, educated river of critics and audiences. To better build on this, though we live in a lawless state, where critics are met by the end of a gun if certain of their reviews aren’t loved by certain individuals, critics need to do the undoable and stand firm by their reviews.

It is gold albeit not standard.

The audience determines what film is the gold standard to them.

Written by a budding critic.

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