Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Critique of "Welcome to Lagos"

Bunmi Oloruntoba lives in Washington DC and offers a take on the BBC documentary Welcome to Lagos. The critique is much longer and contains many more good ideas, but here's one of them:

I think the mistake filmmakers from the developed world make when tackling a topic like "the resilience of Lagosians" is that they tend to equate the poorest with some kind of authenticity and realism (in fact, we all do), which is not necessarily the case. And authenticity... what does that mean anyway? Also, and even more important in terms of storytelling, filmmakers are looking for high voltage tensions--i.e. Lagos government goons swooping down any moment on slum town--from which to elict high drama (and at the end of the day, that's all a filmmaker really cares about - the kind of truth that offers the most drama). It is only logical therefore that the most extreme parts of our reality appear to foreigners as the most tense and the most likely to elicit interesting twists, turns and high drama. Again, not necessarily so. Middle class Lagos realities are as extreme, authentic and filled with the everyday Lagos drama of resilience and adaptation. However, the poverty porn is less or of a different kind, and middle class stories are a little more complex and probably a little harder to tell…

See also: Welcome to Lagos
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