If 2016 was known as the year of controversies in the Nigerian entertainment cycle especially in the music side of things, 2017 is proving that things are not about to slow down given that January has already served us the first (of many?) ‘beef’ of the year.
Last week, Nollywood actor Gideon Okeke known for his role in popular MNET series, Tinsel called out veteran actor Chiwetalu Agu over his use of vulgar language in films.
To paraphrase, Gideon said Chiwetalu was not teaching people, especially children, anything by always saying vulgar things disguised in Igbo in movies.
This apparently angered another Nollywood actor Chioma Akpotha who responded to Gideon’s criticism by saying he lacks respect.
The drama took a new twist when the man in the middle of it all, Chietalu Agu, previously silent decided to fire a reply.
In an interview with Punch, Chiwetalu said:
“Let him leave the censors board to do their job, or does he work with them? Anybody can say anything or come to whatever conclusion they please. The viewers would judge whether I use vulgar words in movies or not. People who watch movies are the ultimate judges. I do not even know who Gideon Okeke is; I do not think I have ever heard his name. If people like AMAA are talking to me about this, I would know how to react appropriately. But this is an individual I do not even know. He has his own style, and I have mine which has won me awards all over the continent and even beyond.”
Speaking further, he said, “This is the first time anyone will be accusing me of vulgarity. Others have been hailing me. What we do is satire; we are re-enacting what happens in the society. People I have encountered and those who have called me have been full of praise for me. It will also interest you to know that I am the highest award-winning actor in Africa. I have 47 awards to my name; and the second person behind me has not even got up to 10 awards.”
Not to be outdone, Gideon, probably after reading the interview went on Instagram to give the veteran a lesson in the meaning of the word “satire”.
One of the things we have come to learn from all this furore is that there seems to be some underground ‘thumping of the noses’ at people who are referred to as “new Nollywood” going by how swift hell and fury were rained down on Gideon on social media.
The conversation in recent times have been about who is better between the new stars compared to the older faces and that’s what must have riled the bee-on-the-scrotum brigade on social media.
Many see Gideon’s comments as “an attack” of the old by the new who they say are filled with youthful exuberance. They even likened Gideon’s outburst to a case of a young man who chides his parents for not being rich and famous.
But are we not just giving a dog a bad name just to hang it? Is the arguement really about “respect for older people and morals” like Chioma Akpotha said?
It is pertinent to point out that while Gideon Okeke may be wrong in the medium he chose to dish out his criticism, we should be careful not to throw away the baby with the bath water.
He equally has a point. The industry needs to draw a line between the use of vulgar words and entertainment. People like Chioma Akpotha must understand that criticisms is not necessarily ‘hate’. Criticism can only make the industry better.
The National Films and Videos Censors Board needs to up their game and enforce the rules. More scrutiny need to be placed on the content of the actors lines so films can be censored accordingly. Slapping “18” on a movie jacket does not mean people under the age of 18 will not watch it.
If that is not done, we will continue to have instances where actors will be forced to take on the gate-keeping role and as we can see, that is an ill wind that blows nobody no good.
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