Gideon Okeke shared an unpopular opinion, Chioma Chukwuka made risible comments and Chiwetalu Agu gave an exaggerated response.
So, let me start by introducing Gideon Okeke. I don't expect Chiwetalu Agu's fans to know Gideon Okeke - the two actors cater to different markets. While Agu is more of a mass market entertainer, Gideon's audience is limited.
Gideon is most popular for his role in the M-Net TV series "Tinsel." He has also featured in movies like "Gbomo Gbomo Express," "When Love Happens," "93 Days," "Gidi Blues" and "A Place in the Stars."
He also hosted The Money Drop TV show in 2012. However, he is yet to feature in any 'Asaba movie' - one of the reasons why he is yet to be that 'popular' actor.
You may not consider him so much of an outstanding actor until you witness him deliver a masterly theatrical reenactment of Fela Anikulapo Kuti 's life and evolution on stage.
At that moment, it doesn't matter what your opinion of him as a person is, you simply respect his talent.
Gideon Okeke came under attack on Thursday, January 12, 2017, when he challenged the National Film Video Censors Board (NFVCB) to censor Chiwetalu Agu's 'vulgar slangs' on screen.
In a series of tweets, his colleague Chioma Chukwuka reacted, stating that the new generation of actors have no morals.
Responding to Gideon Okeke, the legendary Agu said he doesn't know Gideon Okeke. He also insinuated that the actor has no right to judge his acting style.
In summary of the drama, this is what I think - Gideon Okeke shared an unpopular opinion, Chioma Chukwuka made risible comments and Chiwetalu Agu gave an exaggerated response.
There was simply nothing rude or disrespectful about Gideon Okeke's posts. He shared an unpopular opinion and came under attack for speaking about the art of a Nollywood actor with a huge fanbase - Agu has been in the industry for over 35 years, and has been a part of the market that caters to the mass audience.
Okeke shared his opinion as a 'fan of Chiwetalu Agu' and an 'audience member,' who is totally entitled to his opinion.
His message was directed at the 'Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) ' and 'movie channels that play eyes-right to the demographic ratings 13, 16, 18 or PG.'
As an audience, the "Tinsel" actor felt the NFVCB needed to do do more than ban movies like "Fifty Shades of Grey" from cinemas. He also assumed that movie channels needed to adhere to content ratings.
His post did not in any way take away the veteran's right to use his trademark slangs in movies. His post didn't take away Chiwetalu Agu's talent as an actor.
His post wasn't about Agu's talent or his place in the industry. It was about his 'vulgarities' in movies.
Are Chiwetalu Agu's slangs vulgar or not? Is there need for censorship or not? Chioma Chukwuka Akpotha failed to focus on the issue. She just decided to wade into the event with no cogent argument.
The only thing she considered a suitable response was the popular 'young actors are disrespectful' and 'respect your elders' response.
Considering the fact that she deemed it right to be a part of the conversation, there were better and constructive responses she could have gone for as an actor, producer and 'elder'.
Chioma's response is just one the traits possessed by filmmakers who are not agreeable to hear or learn about new ideas and suggestions as regards their talent.
Most Nigerian filmmakers and performers consider criticism an attack on their talent or personality, and immediately, they pull the 'hater' move.
Being an elder doesn't automatically make one immune to criticism. Young actors criticising an actor's performance doesn't make them morally dead.
Hopefully, in 2017, our 'veterans' will learn how to accept, ignore or respond to criticism without looking for 'haters' and respect.
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Chiwetalu Agu's exaggerated response
“Anybody can say anything or come to whatever conclusion they please. The viewers would judge whether I use vulgar words in movies or not," Chiwetalu Agu said in his response.
Gideon Okeke shared his post as a 'concerned' 'audience member,' a term which makes him a viewer, and automatically hands him the right to judge Agu.
"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," Agu further said.
His response takes us back to the fact that most creative don't know how to react 'appropriately' to criticism, except when it is coming from bodies like AMAA and AMVCA. He also takes us back to the popular 'I have won awards' response, which is also similar to "I'm making my money so why should I care.'
In an exaggerated response, the veteran pointed out his achievements which include being the highest award-winning actor in Africa with 47 awards.
He also mentioned that he has featured in 727 productions - I'm not even aware that there is an old Nollywood actor who can state an accurate number of movies he/she has featured in. Considering the absence of documentation and the frequency of shooting and releasing movies in Nigeria, the figure '727' is the height of exaggeration.
Let's skip the part where he stated his talent and legendary status as the reason former President invested N3bn into Nollywood. Let's just be happy there was an investment.
Are Chiwetalu Agu's slangs vulgar? - sometimes. Being a veteran and a talented one at that doesn't take away the fact that most times, his 'hilarious' slangs are incoherent.
As an Igbo man/woman, you would find yourself in situations where you can't even understand or interpret most of his slangs. They don't always come with a meaning. Sometimes they just sound funny, and this is Nigeria, people like funny. Slapstick or intelligent humour.
The existence of more vapid words on TV in forms of music lyrics doesn't take away the simple fact that Agu's slangs don't always make sense.
For starters, I don't think the NFVCB is actually interested in Chiwetalu Agu's slangs and other incoherent languages constantly used in Nigerian productions released on DVD or on Pay TV. They are more interested in international productions like "Fifty Shades of Grey," "Half of Yellow Sun" and "Office Christmas Party."
Back to censorship and the influence of vulgarity on kids.
Most movies shown on Africa Magic are rated. There's PG, 18 and the rest. That's quite enough censorship. However, some of Chiwetalu Agu's comments may be in need of more than a mere '18' rating.
On Africa Magic, words such as Idiot, stupid, f**k, and God are censored. They are blurred and made unclear. That is something slangs like "Otele eju," "Kom oko na okpu isi (scratch my penis)" and "Ara Nwanyi Asaba (Asaba woman's breast)" need. Nobody has asked that slangs like "Mmiri ama efi n' anya!" be censored.
ALSO READ: SHOULD THERE BE CENSORSHIP ON TV?
On the other hand, what happened to personal responsibility? Chiwetalu Agu's movies do not magically appear on our screens.
It doesn't make total sense to demand that a censor board assumes the responsibility of minding our children. It is common knowledge that raising a child in today's media era can be challenging. There is vulgarity in music lyrics, music videos, movies and more. But these should not be an accuse to demand that a censor board plays surrogate parent.
Also, there is parental control on DSTV - that sounds like enough censorship when it comes to our kids.
At the end of the drama, one thing is certain, most Nigerian actors are in need of a publicist who would make sure they avoid certain social media drama.