Linguistic Representation and Decentrering Centredness in Nollywood Travel Films: A Study of Akara Oku Girl Just Back From America (2017) by Kensteve Anuka and Life is Hard in America (2018) by George U. Kalu


Migration in search for better life is embedded in literary works and in cultural goods. Dreaming of elsewhere syndrome with untold consequences is a form of being displaced out of our comfort zones, redirecting ourselves towards an unending dialogue between selves and others. In this phenomenon, cultures that are ‘non-western’ are caught between two continents. As residents and displaced persons struggle to survive, they start to adapt to a newer way of life, and in doing so their old ways begin to
be replaced by newer ways. Cultures that are ‘non-western’ are then caught between two continents; on the one hand, they have the values and views that they grew accustomed to, and on the other, they are being introduced to a totally new and different way of life with new standards. This is the case for someone who decides to stay in the new land. If the immigrants do not succeed and eventually return to their homeland, there is further rejection hence decentering. This is what obtains in Akara Oku Girl Just Back from America (2017) by Kensteve Anuka and Life is Hard in America (2018) by George U. Kalu; both films are directed and produced in Nigeria and Nollywood. This article retains the intuition that travel film provide for an heuristic of this relation while exploring an alternative way to decentre the European or American centeredness and modernist core of international contemporary issues. Culture here is the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group or the social sorms: name calling; parental guidance and support, independence and liberty, valuing education, dress code, and marital dynamics. How can films reflect different kinds of experience in the messages communicated? How are the representations constructed? To what extent are they stereotypical? We hypothesize that film codes and conventions are the keys to construct aptly representations of the ideologies. We used the Cultural Film Theory and Cognitive Film Semiotics by Warren (2000) to deconstruct the representation of decentredness and centredness in the two films. Our analyses and findings reveal new themes and uncover powerful and significant meanings and concerns in both the Nigerian and American societies and when the two culture clash. Tolerance and acculturation are envisaged as a solution in both films but the necessity to highlight and decentre the centredness is there. Not all about America is real and real change can only come from activism, unapologetic ownership of one’s identity, representation in leadership roles, in education, in politics, in newsrooms and in cinematic constructions.

Key words: representation, migration, Nollywood, (de)centredness, Culture, film theory, Semiotics

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