INFLUENCE OF HOME VIDEO FILMS ON VIEWERSHIP OF TELEVISION PROGRAMMES BY RESIDENTS’ OF UYO METROPOLIS
1.1 Background of the Study
Among the mass media of communication, television is seen as the most influential. By combining pictures with sound, television can communicate massages which are impossible to convey as effectively by radio and or by print media. Again, it is essentially and fundamentally different from other mass in that it requires no reading ability for audiences to understand its messages. Baran (2009, 429) posits that the television is the central cultural arm society as a culture’s primary story teller. It is the chief creator of entertainment and information for heterogeneous mass audiences. Highlighting important role of television in society, Awake in its October 2006 issue, in an article entitled “TV: The Subtle Instructor” submits that ” television captures the lives of people in both tragedy and triumph; it entertains, instructs and even inspires.” Much of television programming is neither wholesome nor educational and it main critics decry its abundant and graphic portrayal of violence and sex and its power to change people’s opinion, attitude and prior beliefs.
However, nearly all the families in Nigeria have television sets and television contents viewing in the country is pervasive. Though there is hardly any statistics to show the amount of time the average Nigerian spends watching television we can gleam this from the report of an article in the Awake (2006) issue earlier cited. According to the report titled “TV: A Thief of Time?”: the time that many people devote to television is astonishing. Recently, a global study showed that an average, people watch television for just over three hours each day. North Americans watch four and a half hours daily, while the Japanese top the list at five hours per day (Akpan and Anyianuka, 2013).
Thus, many Nigerian families spend several hours of their daily lives consuming television contents which substantial part is made up of television programmes or movies. When Television programming ceased to satisfy the audience quest for films and their expected gratification, media devices like DVD and VCD players are resorted to, for viewing video DVD or VCD films that litter Nigeria markets and neighborhoods today. Movies are the avenue for portraying social reality. This is based on their audio – visual functions as well as their influential power to make an impact on the viewer. This was succinctly captured by Gerbner (1980) cited in Griffin (1991, p. 301) when he stated inter alia that: “. television’s power comes from the symbolic content of the real life drama shown hour after hour, week after week. At its root, television is “story” and a society’s stories give a coherent picture of what exists, what is important; what is related to what and what is right.”
Until the early 1990s, foreign films or movies dominated the local scene. This changed with the production of the home video ‘Living in Bondage’ in 1992 by Kenneth Nnebue. With this milestone, Nollywood, the Nigerian home video industry derived its history. Suddenly, Nigerians’ appetite for local films became insatiable and producers cashed in on this, and an average of 100 home videos or films, according to National Film and Video Censors Board’s records, were churned out monthly. These Nollywood movies, as they are today called, fed its audience with a steady dose of wholesome and unwholesome contents. Quite marked was its dramatization of human ritual killings which transport poor characters to states of untold riches. ‘Living in Bondage’, the first film to give local productions the break that gave birth to Nollywood, not surprisingly was the first to dramatize how’ Andy’, the key character in the movie, used his wife for money making rituals and became rich inadvertently. A common train that runs across this genre of film is that majority of the characters go unpunished for engaging in this evil acts, indeed going on to “enjoy” the riches and fame this practice confer on them, even after the movie seem to have ended.
Today, cable television, which has become widespread in the society, also has dedicated stations which transmit Nollywood movies round the clock against other morally charged television contents or programmes. Thus, Nigerian home videos miscreants continue to feed daily on Nollywood’s dramatization of a misplaced reality for the sole purpose of ‘entertaining themselves’ and the effect this is having on them becomes a subject of concern. According to Baran: 2004, p. 159) movies are make-believe and not reality. In other words, movies may really not be a recreation of society’s experience. Hence, are television contents constructs or reality?
Film on its own part, when properly harnessed and utilized is a unique means of communication; its visual characteristic gives it a universal appeal and impact. It plays important roles in the development of any groups of people, ethnicity, race, nation or country. It is a veritable tool for national development and purveyor of culture. It helps to preserve the culture of a people from eroding away. This was the focus and brainchild of Nigerian Film Corporation for implementing the Nigerian National Policy on Film, Article 4(3)(c), in 2005 which states inter alia that “film will be produced to protect and promote our rich cultural heritage and our national aspirations in the process of development”. Films generally serve as a tool for national integration and development. Based on these imports, it becomes informative to note that the major type of film we have today is home videos, which developed until now from what was formerly known as -cinema or stage play drama. As part of mass media, home videos play the important roles of informing, educating, entertaining and transmitting social heritage. Home video concerned itself with evolving a better society by exposing societal ills and wrongs and it cannot do this on its own without deploying the medium of television.
Since the advent of home videos in Nigeria, the home videos industry popularly known and referred to as ‘Nollywood’ has considerably influenced the habits, belief systems, styles of dressing and other behavioral idiosyncrasies of many Nigerians. One may also say, however that the emergence of home video have helped promote the Nigeria culture that was lost during the colonial period. There are also negative effects of home videos on audiences. However, there have been cases where home videos are criticized to be the cause for some societal ills. Social critics who belief anti-social behavours like violence and extravagant lifestyle that many films portray in their content perceptibly affect behavioural pattern of some audience. Nevertheless, all these sum up to m~~n that home videos have both positive and negative influence on viewers’ morality and that home videos positively or negatively affects the generally accepted moral standards of the society.