That Piece About Sex, Nollywood and the Nigerian Hypocrisy

That Piece About Sex, Nollywood and the Nigerian Hypocrisy

Originally published on thisisafrica.me

If you’re one of Nollywood’s millions of fans around the world, you can’t fail to have read some of the sensational headlines in the blogosphere and Nigerian media earlier this year: “Nollywood now producing blue films”.

There were many more: “From Nollywood to Pornllywood”, “Nollywood has gone haywire”, “Pornography takes over Nollywood”, etc.

What’s going on, you might have wondered. I happened to be chatting with friend and blogger Sugabelly, when one of us mentioned Room 027, so we decided to watch the trailer.

FILTHY SEXUAL CONTENT

Room 027 is one of the so-called pornographic movies that Nollywood had apparently started releasing. The first thing that struck us was what appeared to be a rape scene. We found this disturbing, as we did the ever-present male gaze: the way the camera lingered over the body of the attractive female actor, but not on that of the male actors. The trailer did nothing to pique our interest further, and I promptly forgot about the movie and the entire topic of sexually-explicit Nollywood movies.

That is, until I came across a trailer for yet another “controversial” movie. And then another. Altogether, I stumbled upon five Nollywood movies that supposedly contained pornographic scenes before deciding to look further into the matter. What I found interesting about these movies is the moral panic around them, the “uncalled for” and “unAfrican” “filthy sexual content” that apparently has no place in Nollywood. Supposedly, the introduction and presence of sexually explicit scenes should now be added to the already long list of problems plaguing Nollywood, such as subpar acting, soundtracks that reveal the entire story, badly titled movies and poor directing.

IS THIS REALLY PORN?

The list of home-grown sexually-explicit movies is surprisingly long for a country suddenly taken aback by sex. There’s Destructive Instinct 3 & 4 by US-based Nigerian actress, Judith Opara Mazagwu aka AfroCandy, and Bold 5 Babes, an erotic comedy about women who turn men into BlackBerry phones by having sex with them. Opening with an explicit sex scene between two men was enough to get the film, Pregnant Hawkers labeled a “gay porn movie”. There’s The Benjamins, rumoured to have been directed by a teenager, which follows the lives of university students into hip-hop and sex, and of which one commentator concluded “shows too much flesh for the Nigerian context”.

The list continues: Bedroom Assassin, Sinful Act 1 & 2, Taboo!, Lesbian, etc. Somebody’s buying this stuff, because, say what you want about Nollywood, it’s not an industry to experiment with content it thinks it might have a hard time selling.

These movies clearly do contain sex scenes…but sex scenes explicit enough to be labeled pornographic? Nigerians have a tendency to exaggerate – it’s not unusual for a scene involving a half naked man kissing a woman in lingerie to be labeled a sex scene. But we don’t label Hollywood films with similar amounts of sex pornographic, so why are viewers judging Nollywood films, and actors, by a different standard?

One possible answer is that Nollywood has long been seen as a means through which African cultures and mores are celebrated. Thus, in the opinion of the morally panicked, sexually explicit scenes are demeaning because they show how the lack of moral values in the West is penetrating the African consciousness.

Some Nollywood fans have noticed this double standard, and the tendency to exaggerate; as one, commenting on this page, asked: “When will Nigeria start making blue films [pornography] and stop this nonsense they call sex? Are they shy or what?”

Another wrote: “When you think of doing something that has sex, let it convince the viewers, not make them furious over nothing.”

But these lone voices are drowned out by the much louder voices of people scandalized by nudity and some relatively tame sex scenes. Male actors, producers, but especially female actors involved in such films are routinely called out and shamed, though some of them don’t take the criticism lying down.

A NATION OF HYPOCRITES?

Collins Onwochei, one of the actors in Room 027, insisted he isn’t making porn, and called Nigerians hypocrites who don’t raise an eyebrow when watching sex scenes in TV shows like Spartacus.

Nollywood bad girl, Tonto Dike voiced a similar opinion when fans started hyperventilating over her own “porn” movie, labeling her critics “pretenders”. “Why would we enjoy seeing nudity in Hollywood? It’s a fucking profession peeps, grow up,” she fumed. “I am all out with my job, and fuck you hard if you find otherwise. Rubbish fucking pretenders…”

Benson Okonkwo, who appeared in the “gay porn” movie Pregnant Hawkers, is also quoted as saying “…it’s only a movie and make-believe…We watch movies like that in Hollywood. Nigerians are hypocrites.”

The release of a trailer for Destructive Instinct 3 & 4 a couple of months ago got everyone in a tizzy again, and made the female lead, AfroCandy notoriously popular with bloggers and online versions of Nigerian newspapers eager to interview her.

Like Collins Onwochei and Tonto Dike, AfroCandy called out the hypocrisy in the reactions of Nigerian netizens, reminding her critics that Nigerians enjoy watching Big Brother Africa, in which housemates have been known to have sex. She also points out the sexism in the reactions. I must say, judging by the trailers only, her work seems to do a better job of portraying consensual sex.

SCHIZOPHRENIC

Unless they’re being disingenuous, none of the professionals think what they’re producing is pornographic, but Nigeria’s moral police disagree. Read the comments below articles about these so-called porn movies, and if you’re anything like me, you will find yourself rolling your eyes in disbelief at the amount of puritanism on display. The furore over sex in Nollywood is partly a reflection of our schizophrenic attitude to sex, one attitude behind closed doors, one when things are out in the open. We are like the conservatives in America, who are the largest consumers of porn but also the loudest voices railing against sex in cinema, and against almost anything to do with sex in general. We know, for instance, that Nigerians rank in the world’s top 5 in Google searches for gay porn, yet we’re among the most vocal in spouting anti-gay sentiments.

Instead of our over-the-top reactions and hypocrisy, we could be using the issue of sex in cinema to criticize Nollywood’s role in normalising rape culture in Nigeria, or discussing the extremely exploitative ways in which gay people are portrayed in some of these movies. But we would rather claim the moral high ground and play at being a highly religious nation, despite how sex pervades every single aspect of our society. Thus we are lectured to about the evils of pornography and made to believe that using sex toys means you’re having sex with demonic spouses, while Nigerians frequent strip clubs and support a thriving sex economy. There is a market for porn in Nigeria that has nothing to do with Nollywood. This double consciousness is perfectly illustrated in the fact that AfroCandy saw fit to thank God for the success of her movie, scandalizing a few more people in the process.

THE GHANAIAN CONNECTION

It is hard to read about the so-called growth of sexually-obscene films in Nollywood without coming across mentions of Ghana. A blogger wrote: “We [are] extremely shocked at Nigeria’s sudden affiliation to the whole soft porn syndrome. Most Nigerians were insolent to the emerging Ghanaian soft porn movies. Little did we know they were going to take it to the next level.”

Another wrote: “I wonder what it is with Ghanaians and pornography, maybe it is the only way they can put their movies on the map.”

Yet another noted: “We have been complaining in Ghana about how some of our movie producers enjoy putting a lot of unnecessary sex scenes in movies, but unfortunately the trend has now been shifted to Nigeria.”

Oh, so it’s our Ghanaian brothers who have led us chaste and innocent Nigerians astray? Hmm, I beg to differ. The fact that we eagerly consumed Ghanaian films like Wapipi Jay (which you shouldn’t search for if you reading this at work) shows we’ve long had an appetite for sexually-explicit movies. But we like to have our cake and eat it too, watch the films and be titillated so we can speculate about whether the sex is real, and then claim to be scandalized.

With Nollywood expanding and an increasing number of actors willing to show some skin, I expect we’ll be seeing many more films pushing against our conservative threshold, and until such movies really do cross the line, I think we should all just calm down and stop pretending to be such innocent, morally upright pillars.

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  1. Dennis Macaulay
    November 13, 05:33 Reply

    Awon Hypocrites of Nigeria!

    After spitting on the movies, they will still go to pornhub!

    My problem with nollywood is not too much sex, rather bad acting, bad script writing, bad directing, bad production. Except for a handful of movies, most of them are crap really and a waste of precious 90mins or more!

    Tony odekunle-brown will come and argue now

  2. Mandy
    November 13, 06:36 Reply

    Another wrote: “When you think of doing something that has sex, let it convince the viewers, not make them furious over nothing.”

    That says it all for me. I don’t understand the vexation of those who watch these lame sex scenes of Nollywood, when you’re just goign to turn around and watch Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, and not flinch. Such double standards.

  3. Max
    November 13, 06:45 Reply

    Biko I just watched it, its nothing close to porn. In a country filled with religifreaks, I didn’t expect anything less.
    Pornhub ranks 20 or so in the most visited website in Nigeria according to Alexa, so I wonder if its the spirit of our forefathers who browse the web from the land of the dead.
    Bitch ass hypocrites… And the bimbo who wrote this probably thinks he’s doing some public service to the nation.

    My problem with Nollywood is still their bad script and acting.

    • Pink Panther
      November 13, 07:17 Reply

      The bimbo who wrote this? You’re antagonistic toward the writer too?

  4. Chizzie
    November 13, 07:53 Reply

    A nation of hypocrites, is what we are. And I blame the churches. I don’t see how a person who claims to be a Christian can coolly walk into a church after say, committing fornication ( gay or straight) and leave church feeling ‘blessed’ note; not guilty, and go on to commit more acts of fornication amongst other things

    Why won’t the average Nigerian sit on thier high horses and judge while neck deep in moral decadence? Because our churches always leave us feeling blessed and not guilty. Churches today are all abt prosperity and nothing abt conviction. This is why the more religious a country or person is, the more hypocritically they are.

    I used churches as an example because the issue of sex and pornography is a moral thing, and thats why we have religious orgs to put our morals in check.

  5. Chizzie
    November 13, 07:56 Reply

    *Hypocritical* biko. My enemies

  6. Sinnex
    November 13, 07:58 Reply

    They have issues with nudity in Naija movies, but they see nothing wrong with Spartacus and Game of Thrones.

    Biko, if any of you have access to made in Naija porn-not rape oooo-you can hook me up. We still have a long way to go in the porn industry.

    • Kristopher B!
      November 13, 08:58 Reply

      Sinnex, there’s a gay porn I saw recently. totally Naija boys, speaking yoruba and one even had an igbo name. It was a group sex thingy and so much like a real porn flick 95%. I got it off xvideos and its almost 120mb in size. Hit me up on whatsapp lemme give you the link.

      • Rapum
        November 13, 09:33 Reply

        Lol. Really. Dude, what of us wey no dey Whatsapp na? Not fair oh.

      • posh6666
        November 13, 11:25 Reply

        Naija gay porn really?pls just be a generous giver and drop the link on this page for we the good people of kd……

      • Teflondon
        November 13, 13:11 Reply

        Sinnex do hit a brother up when you get that clip, will you. not a porn fan but ‘Nigerian (probably Rough-neck) BOYS’ ‘Groupie’ ‘Loads of Sex’ Draws my curiosity and Def worth a watch!

        • Jumbo
          November 13, 13:48 Reply

          You’re not a porn fan, yet you are begging for a porn clip? Isnt this the hypocrisy we all are talking about?

      • Sinnex
        November 13, 13:43 Reply

        Haba, see them thirsty guys.

        I hope it is not the one with one guy with a hairy butt that was just lying down when people were just banging him? The one I have is 126MB. Yes, they were speaking Yoruba in one dirty room like that with a green bedspread. Lol..It is obviously Nigerian because they used cream instead of Lube. 6-8 guys. One is Anayo and another one is Chima. according to the clip. Lol!!!

      • Sinnex
        November 13, 14:36 Reply

        m.sunporno.com/videos/674392/bgpz-african-vampire

        • posh6666
          November 13, 17:10 Reply

          Oh my God ok thats one of the tackiest porn i have ever watched! Also those guys had liver oh cos i could practically hear one lousy yoruba woman yapping her head off inside the compound of the house as usual with yoruba women.Just here wondering what if some one had busted in on them shooting this porn about five of them?it most def happened in lag,pls oh dear kd’s if you recognise one of them dont be shy to admit it lol.

            • posh6666
              November 13, 20:27 Reply

              What are u on about?like are they not mostly lousy and loud? Thats just a statement of fact so………..yea i said wuh i said.

              • Chuck
                November 13, 21:33 Reply

                When did you do your survey or observation? The fact that you called your prejudice a “statement of fact” is worrying, but it illustrates how you think.

          • Keredim
            November 14, 00:36 Reply

            Posh, I think you are being overtly critical of the video. You are comparing it to porn made in the west where they have proper funding and post-production facilities, are not hiding and have been doing it for years.

            Here they haven’t used make up, no post production facilities, could do with some more condoms and proper lube, but it is good for a first attempt for an indigenous production under harsh conditions.

            Trust me there is a niche market for such porn in the west, it could be a whole new genre . You might do well by getting involved?

            The director does sound like Bisi Alimi, but I am not allowed to say that?

            The director does sour

            • posh6666
              November 14, 07:46 Reply

              Hahahahahaha you are so wrong for this,me act porn?abeg let me just respect myself i suffered too much in school to jeorpadize my career.Plus somebody pls cc Bisi to come and clear his name oh this one that oga Kere is recognizing his voice like this lol.

    • Kristopher B!
      November 13, 14:48 Reply

      Sinnex that’s it:-) I raise yansh for you’re badder than I thought.

      • posh6666
        November 13, 14:50 Reply

        Thank u jare Sinnex side eyes at Kris…..network come dey very good sef dwnloading already

      • posh6666
        November 13, 15:02 Reply

        For those managing their data this is not for you one of the vids is about 178mb….

  7. Nightwing
    November 13, 08:07 Reply

    Porn…. Ha!!!????? even if they could make porn it would be worse than a low budget movie. Please why are we even discussing nollywood’s ability to make porn, even their gay movies are ❎, sexual scenes looks to me like they are forced to do so, they are overly cautious. In fact *drops mic, plugs earphones and walks out #Np #EllieGoulding #OnMyMind*

  8. Rapum
    November 13, 08:53 Reply

    I think the accusation of hypocrisy is fitting, although I think that it’s a bit simplistic to say that because Nigerians watch Spartacus, then they shouldn’t complain about Room 027. So many of us here watch porn, but we wouldn’t be happy to find our brothers or sisters in those videos; some people wouldn’t even date a pornstar (I would, gladly. Give me Angel Santiago anyday). I think it’s the same reaction. Nigerians do need to grow up, though.

    However, there should be another reason for shouting: children. Nollywood has a knack for copy-copy. When Living in Bondage became a success, every film guy started producing his version. The same thing happened with Aki and Paw Paw’s movie and Nothing for Nothin ad Idemili and so on, so that the success of a kind of movie results in its proliferation. My point being that Nollywood isn’t producing movies for children. The Hollywood that Tonto et al are referring to has so many movies for children, and is so diverse that people who are not comfortable with sexual content can find ample amount of movies to see. I don’t want my younger siblings and cousins to grow up watching only American films because the movie industry here doesn’t care about their existence. What Nollywood needs is ingenuity and range (which a handful of directors are beginning to show.) Simple.

    As an aside, maybe I should write a movie about homophobia in Nigeria, with a character in a healthy gay relationship, not the stereotyped Nollywood version steeped in homophobia; no sex scene in this one, and see how fast the censorship board will throw it away.

  9. Duke
    November 13, 09:21 Reply

    I find their sex scenes nauseating! Horribly done and many times unnecessary. And that wapapi whatever, I googled it and I really regret it. Horribly made Ghanian porn, Very very cringe worthy. Nigerians are hypocrites, no be today, e don tey.

  10. Jaden
    November 13, 10:04 Reply

    Is there any whatsapp group? I need to join o.

  11. GOld
    November 13, 10:13 Reply

    Well Nigerians are really hypocrites that’s all.

    Not like I enjoy the sex scenes there,cos they are nauseating but there’s room for enjoyment *runs off to watch fifty shades of grey*

  12. Theo
    November 13, 10:37 Reply

    Ewwww @Room 027 n The Benjamin’s Trailers. Common, the sex scenes are really nauseatingly annoying.

    These clips are not even near what a good Porn looks like. More like ‘Daddy n Mummy’ scenes btw some adolescents.

    I just can’t.

  13. Marc Francis of Chelsea
    November 13, 14:12 Reply

    I think it’s a matter of taste level. I recently finished watching the old American 80s tv show, Dynasty. I feel like that’s where Nigeria’s sex tolerance for our own movies is. Sex scenes were largely under-the-duvet romp arounds and steamy make out scenes. They were extremely tasteful with the way they would show a nude back or thighs in a jacuzzi . What they did that was largely controversial was talk about major issues (like homosexuality and HIV in the 80s) that would still raise an eyebrow.

    As someone who is obsessed with Nollywood, I think the issue is that the taste level with presenting sex scenes is extremely low. I remember a movie I watched that had Tonto Dike and the late Muna Obiekwe called Men in Love. He was giving her head, and when he came up, he flicked his teeth like he had just eaten chicken. Gross. Another is this example used in the article called The Benjamins. Poor lighting. Zooming in on her ass. Very wham-bam-thank you ma’am. They could have made it tasteful and put the camera far away from them so you only get a glimpse but not the full thing. Our producers have to remember that while it is indeed a sex scene, it is not real sex so there is no need to freak your audience out by teaching them how to ride dick for 15 mins.

    We aren’t there yet as a country and we need to ease out audience into sex scenes.

  14. Chuck
    November 13, 17:04 Reply

    Isn’t there a twink in Umuahia or Owerri that recruits for a white SA guy that shoots Nigeria porn?

  15. Duke
    November 13, 18:52 Reply

    OK, those videos were…????

  16. Ringlana
    November 13, 19:13 Reply

    Aww,when Molly do porn we ll know.

  17. ikhines
    November 14, 15:51 Reply

    Yes bisi alimi was the director. I know one of the guys that was in the movie he was just lucky his face didnt show too much. This movie has been in circulation for over 5years. The bisi guy tricked them and said it was going to be exported to germany. They didnt even pay them a dime!

    • Chuck
      November 14, 20:16 Reply

      Abeg can anyone confirm this?

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