By Ginika Mbata
If Hollywood wants to produce movies that not only profit off Africa but really please the African continent they should re-adjust and take Africans not just African-Americans into consideration when making movies about Africans.
I do not think that there’s any country where Hollywood movies are not watched. Being the most watched movie industry, Hollywood is not afraid to pour millions of dollars into movie production because it can regain these funds and also get significant profit from its fans all over the world who go to cinemas to watch Hollywood movies.
Over the years, Hollywood has given us great action, suspense, horror, romance and comedy flicks which we relish even more than our own locally produced Nollywood movies.
Due to the diverse make-up of American citizens, Hollywood has tried to make the minorities (non-whites) feel like they belong by giving them lead roles in movies but it hasn’t stopped there. Hollywood has started making movies about other nations and their traditions. This is evident in movies such as Crazy Rich Asians and The Farewell. In these two movies, Hollywood used an all Asian cast to tell an Asian story and of course, these movies received positive reviews from Asian-Americans. But for the Asians in Asia, they hated these movies and called the Asian-American actors “ugly”.
Hollywood has also forayed into Africa and her culture, telling stories about Africans in Africa hence, bringing Africa to the limelight. Some of these movies include The Queen of Katwe and Black Panther. These movies received positive reviews from African-Americans and Africans but many remain skeptical because of the many misrepresentations of Africa made in these movies. Some of these misrepresentations include:
These movies mostly potray Africa as an underdeveloped or backwards continent. These movies are not hesitant to tell the tales of heroes and heroines who live in ghettos and slums and always neglect showing the cities and metropolis of Africa. In Black Panther, even with all their technological advancements, the people of Wakanda were shown as people who still wore loin cloths, reared Rhinos and fought to the death over leadership tussles.
These movies are acted mainly by African-American actors instead of African actors and we both know that the standard of beauty of Africans and that of Americans are quite different especially when it comes to what Africans should look like. Danai Gurira’s character in Black Panther ‘Okoye’ came under heavy criticism from Africans because she was deemed too ugly. Even Lupita N’yogo’s character in the same movie came under fire for not being beautiful by many Africans. Africans like their actors and actresses lighter-skinned.
The African accents used in these movies are exaggerated and outrageously so. The Wakandan accent in Black Panther is just plain ridiculous. Even the Nigerian accent used in the movie got me saying “Wakanda nonsense is this?” Because no Nigerian region speaks English that way. Watching a movie where your people’s accents are not well represented can be very annoying. How hard is it for the actors to learn the accent appropriately or how hard is it for the movie production company to hire African actors who will get the accents correctly?
If Hollywood wants to produce movies that not only profit off Africa but really please the African continent they should re-adjust and take Africans not just African-Americans into consideration when making movies about Africans. Or better still, they should stick with making movies about Americans and leave the telling of the African narrative to African indigenous movie production industries. We’re more than capable of telling our own stories.
Ginika Mbata is a Public Affairs Analyst.