Old Nollywood movies have found a second life as shorthand for virtual interactions across social media platforms.
First generation Nigerian immigrants who moved to the UK and the US were the first to make old Nollywood popular, using micro clips on the now defunct vine as fodder for viral-ready social commentary. Their work would spread to Tumblr and Twitter without a lot of relevant context until the arrival of Nolly.babes on Instagram and yungnollywood on Twitter, two social media accounts run by sisters who sought to own subvert many of the misogynistic themes in Old Nollywood. Content which feature strong, independent, opinionated, unapologetic women out of movies where these same women are vilified for being themselves. Yes, the old Nollywood was certainly knee-deep in holding up extremely sexist/ misogynistic views, but how has the new Nollywood changed that, how can it actively begin to change it?
The truth remains that not a lot of new Nollywood cinema seems to be engaging or willing to deal with “taboo” subjects like feminism, queerness or identity, these subjects being one of our most cultural preoccupations. Although old Nollywood movies portrayed some of these “taboo” subjects in deplorable light, there is the conversation around why new Nollywood movies aren’t spinning these toxic narratives around.
Studies have shown the immense effect of media in shaping cultures and affirming sentiments. Our current views on misogyny, consent, rape, queerness, bodily autonomy, marriage and morality have been influenced by the media we engaged with growing up. Nollywood has especially be excellent at perpetuating stereotypes around fertility and marriage.
Women in Nollywood are still portrayed as submissive and docile. The industry is still unwilling to engage rape with nuance and maturity, and its denials of reality harm all of us.
This is why YungNollywood matters, it uses humour to express the close-mindedness of Old Nollywood and reclaims many of its parochial narratives, putting them in service of a more cultured, socially aware generation.