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Are African Women Portrayed Negatively in Films?

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  1. Introduction
  2. African Women
  3. Are African Women Portrayed Negatively in Films?
  4. Nigerian movies
  5. Conclusion

When the Nigerian film industry, famously referred to as Nollywood burst into the world of film-making in the early 1990s, Africans and indeed the entire black world applauded and cheered at an industry that was not only homegrown but also one that was ready to finally show the world that Africa had finally found its place into that bastion of white Western civilization ? the movie ? and television ? screen (Onuzulike 1). It was also seen as an opportunity to tell the African story to fellow Africans and the rest of the world and challenges the stereotypes that had for long been entrenched in the Hollywood-authored movie scripts. Here, at last was a chance to show the side of Africa, Africans and the black race in a way that the predominantly white Hollywood had never done and which the other major movie industry ? Bollywood, based in India ? had completely ignored.

Nigerian movies are popular not just in Nigeria but also in other African countries where the viewers identify with the culture and are at home with the social and religious environments in which most Nollywood video films are immersed. The Nollywood movies are so popular that, commenting on their popularity, a BBC staffer noted that Nollywood films are full of dramatic and simple storylines where a distraught woman yells ?Ah, you want to kill me now, Oo!?, yanking her hair, complete with contorted facial expressions and then dares the man: ?No, not me, not today, no!? and her body, shuddering, she transforms into a vicious vengeful mongrel with loud, blood curdling growls.

[...] Unfortunately, this medium has only been used to further institutionalize and very strongly engender negative and stereotypical representation of the woman, and more specifically, the African woman (Onuzulike 20). As a result, the African films fail to depict women in their true light in contemporary African society. Instead women are shown as distraught creatures that rely on superstition, charms and their wiles to get power and prestige. This is often also wrapped in criminal acts, prostitution and other rogue-like behavior (Dabale 2). [...]

[...] This is somewhat similar to what happened to black women who had to endure slavery (Francois 8). There is no portrayal of a powerful, articulate, educated black woman comfortable in her own skin in many of the mainstream films that continue to be made today be they in Hollywood, Bollywood or Nollywood. In many western movies, blacks are often cast in parts where they are the junior staff, with preset prejudices on their abilities; their intelligence, their sexuality and where they are shown as helpless victims and shown in a bad light even and almost always end up playing unimportant or only supporting parts (Dabale 2). [...]

[...] And this would in the end ensure that the film industry, not just in Nollywood but also in Hollywood and possibly Bollywood would have no choice but to stand up and take notice. After all, culture is a dynamic force that keeps changing with the growth and development of our society and it is only fair that the art that is available correctly and accurately depicts life as it is and is not used to promote and institutionalize outdated and non-factual stereotypes of the African woman. Works Cited Daite, Ben. Women's Roles in Ghanaian & Nigerian Films. N.P June 2011. [...]

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