Though a lot of it was unintentional and can’t be recreated (I’m looking at you, Charles of Play), Old Nollywood is pretty iconic. I’ve recently been taking deep dives into the pool of movie nostalgia to gag at the insane fashion and bad CGI from that era. Do you know what else I’ve come across? Disturbing storylines that have left me shook and scarred.
1. Men in Love
Nollywood reflects who we are as a society, so it comes as no surprise that many of their old attempts at tackling LGBTQ+ issues reek of homophobia. 2010’s Men in Love is no exception. The movie follows Whitney (Tonto Dikeh) and Charles (John Dumelo), a couple whose disaster of a marriage (he cheats on her with anything in a skirt) is threatened by the arrival of Alex (Muna Obiekwe), a juju-wielding gay man. It’s bad enough that this film portrays its gay characters as rapey predators laden with every negative gay stereotype you can think of. But the movie’s worst sin is making homosexuality out to be the result of a spiritual affliction, which is why many Nigerians suffer inhumane punishments in the name of conversion therapy (aka going for deliverance) till this day.
Everyone who worked on this project needs to bow their heads in shame.
2. Beyoncé and Rihanna
There’s gist that Beyoncé has seen Beyoncé and Rihanna, and now I want to hear her take on it. But before I ring up my girl Bey on WhatsApp (because a regular call to Houston, Texas would be too expensive), can we talk about how they made a film inspired by two of the biggest pop stars on the planet and centred their storyline around wanting a man? Ewww. There’s so much they could’ve explored, but the film’s producers thought, “Why not make a FOUR PART movie franchise where Nadia Buari and Omotola Jalade Ekeinde bitch slap each other because of Jim Iyke? ”
If it was about Dr Dre and Jay Z, the plot would be completely different from this.
3. To Rise Again
To Rise Again is proof that, even in death, Nigerian men will not let you rest. Joseph (Richard Mofe Damijo) is an armed robber who loses his life after a robbery attack. Instead of staying dead like his friends, he rebrands as a bible-believing ghost taxi driver who gets Lydia (Stella Damasus) to fall in love and have a child with him. Spoiler: it ended up being a dream or something. But, we were rooting for their love story. It just feels manipulative and gross. It might not be problematic in the grand scheme of things, but no one should bang a ghost. Not even if he looks like Richard Mofe Damijo.
4. White Hunters
Tabitha (Ini Edo), Peggy (Funke Akindele), and Pamela (Mercy Johnson) are three young women who decide to chase and date white men after growing tired of broke-ass Nigerian men and their bullshit. Not to defend Nigerian men, but what the hell is this plot? Their thirst for coloniser penis and money isn’t even my issue with White Hunters; it’s the offensive stereotype it enforces by squeezing in jokes about the only Indian character smelling like garlic 24/7.
5. Emotional Crack
While Emotional Crack has given us a ton of iconic memes, the problematic nature of the movie’s plot is undeniable. Chudi (Ramsey Noah) is married to Crystal (Stephanie Okereke), who he beats and cheats on like it’s nobody’s business. Things take an exciting lesbian (or bisexual— honestly, fuck labels) turn when Chudi’s side thing Camila (Dakore Akande on a rasta P) decides to ruin the already messed up marriage by seducing Crystal.
Once again, the queer character here is depicted as a crazy disposable stalker, while the wife-beater is given a redemption arc that makes him out to be a victim. His abusive nature is never even addressed. Old nollywood was really deep in their homophobic/misogynistic bag when they made this one.
6. Thunderbolt (Magun)
Yinka Ajiboye (Lanre Balogun) marries Ngozi (Uche Osotule) during their NYSC years. But when his friends start spreading rumours that his wife is the whore of Babylon, Yinka consults with a Babalawo and places a Magun curse on her, endangering her life. The wild thing here is that at no point in the movie does he properly confront her. He just goes straight to the Babalawo like he’s ordering food from Instagram. Thunderbolt (Magun) is a prime example of toxic masculinity, and pushes the idea that a wife is her husband’s property. Even if she cheated, why is placing a curse on her the next logical step? The ghetto.