We love it when our BN fam share their views with us! BN reader Ojie Imoloame is a fan of ABC sitcom “Modern Family“, however, a recent episode which depicted a Nigerian family rubbed him the wrong way! Read Ojie’s views below.
I wish to state my utmost disappointment and frank disgust at the writers and producers of ABC’s hit show Modern Family.
Let me begin by stating that I really enjoy the show. Personally, I believe it is arguably one of the best comedy shows on TV right now. It is perfect mix of heartfelt storytelling, solid characters and incredible humour. The Television Academy highly concurs as they have awarded the show the Primetime Emmy for Best Comedy Series 5 years in a row!
However, on watching last week’s episode of ABC’s Modern Family, titled ‘Marco Polo’, I was appalled at the downright ignorant portrayal of a “Nigerian Family”.
The Dunphys are temporarily living in a hotel while their house is being treated for mould. Gloria suffers through Manny’s new relationship with an older, popular girl. Cameron is under a ton of pressure to maintain the football team’s perfect record when he comes to expect that Mitch is a possible jinx to the team.
As usual, ramming all the Dunphys into one motel room is a recipe for disaster: cluttered room, constant arguing and barking dogs. In fact, one moment of peace cannot be savoured because the slightest movement sets the Nigerian neighbour’s dog off (Poor Depiction Number 1. How many Nigerians are dog lovers? I allowed that pass)
Secondly, Phil meets some bachelors in the hotel lobby while tending to his boredom and misleads them to thinking that his wife had left with the kids. The he sees “Ayula” (Nigerian wife). This is where it gets offensive. She only says 3 words in an accent that is not even remotely Nigerian. It will not even pass for Ghanaian. (Poor Depiction Number 2)
Thirdly. Phil decided to spend time playing Marco Polo with the Nigerian family in the pool. This is where it gets downright insulting. The Nigerians were depicted as cave men that could barely speak nor understand a word of English. It was as if Phil was playing with a bunch of two years olds that constantly needed repeated explanations on how to throw a ball back and forth. To crown it up, the final scene had the “ Nigerian family” all smiles show up to Phil’s house in the middle of the night because they were apparently “asked to stop by” and the Nigerian dad turns back and says “ Marco”. (Poor Depiction Number 3)
I have no problem; none at all, with Nigerians included in any storyline in Hollywood, even if it is for comic relief.
However, it was the depiction of what a typical Nigerian family that sickened me. Firstly, the actors did not bother to educate themselves, writers and producers of what it is to be a Nigeria family. The accent alone was incredibly wrong. They sounded East African. Anyone, who understands acting on a deeper scale, must appreciate the fact that accents make or break characters. (I refer you to roles played by Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchet who are masters of accents). Secondly, the writers and producers were clearly too lazy to do any proper research. They just hired some black actor (African looking) and I suppose, to them, that’s all that counted.
In my humble opinion, if you intend on depicting a culture you are not familiar with, kindly do your research even if it is for comic relief. Nollywood movies are available on YouTube.
I do not need to tell anyone how powerful the American media is. A man in Nebraska, on seeing that episode already has an informed opinion about a typical “Nigerian family”.
This is why on my first day of University, on hearing me speak, a white lady asked me “how did you learn how to speak English?” I honestly did not know how to answer that question. It is like asking someone how he or she learnt how to stand or walk or eat. Over the years, it progressed to “ How many years have you been in England” or daft ones like “ So Ojie… do your parents speak Nigerian?” or some automatically assumed that I lived in England because I could speak proper English.
Randomly one day, I observed a particular recurring advert of starving kids plagued with mosquitoes and kwashiorkor in some African country. That advert ran over and over again. It was at that time I realized that the foreign media is the cause of the ignorance about what it is to be a Nigerian, let alone African.
I just simply wanted to share my disappointment and I really do hope that something can be done to stop this nonsense.