Showing posts with label Television. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Television. Show all posts

Friday, August 31, 2012

South Africa's Great Advertising [Creative] Divide

Over @ the Daily Maverick, Mandy de Waal has a much discussed piece about South Africa’s extremely white advertising industry, and why she thinks it continues as "a colonial enclave where racial polarisation is rife and the best profits are being creamed by a handful of foreign-owned advertising companies." But it is the quote from the Association of Black Communications Practitioners' spokesperson, Taelo Immanuel, that sets up the video clip below:
“There’s a white creative director and a black team, and when they try and talk to each other there’s that chasm because of their respective upbringing. The references are vastly different. As a result there’s a cult of viewing life in an American way through hip hop, movies and music videos,” said Immanuel, who maintained that because of this the advertising mirror that reflects black culture back to South Africans is warped. What we’re seeing isn’t a true reflection of real South African life, but a perversion of its peoples and culture. “In terms of advertising work that speaks to your everyday black South African—say, for instance, my own parents—it is very difficult to find creative work like that. You just don’t get work that has real insight into the South African condition. Instead agencies and brands go to film, and there are black people singing and dancing and they slap in whatever product they want to sell,” said Immanuel. 
One of those American references for white South Africans Immanuel was referring to above was the Cosby Show. Watch the first 3 mins of the 2009 interview with South African director Gavin Hood to get an idea of how huge, for white South Africans, the Huxtables were and the gratitude owed to Bill Cosby.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Evolution of Nigerian Characters on U.S. Television

Season 8, Ep. 17 of American Dad, comic Wayne Brady plays Tungee (Tunji?), one of those kids in the pictures sent to you by American NGOs/charities in those late night infomercials, asking you to stick the kid's pic on your fridge and send a few cents to the NGO every month so the kid can eat. Anyway, Tungee is all grown up now, and he flies to the U.S to visit his long time pen pal benefactors, Stan and Francine, who thought the kid died ages ago. The twist is how Stan and Francine now find the grown up Tungee's round-the-clock positivity and healthy attitude to life a big turn off for them.

Yep. I think we are beginning to sense subtle changes in the treatment of Nigerian characters actually depicted on U.S. TV screens. References to online scams, corruption and other things Americans have come to know still come up, but all those things have quit being the focus. American TV writers are more aware and are now, indirectly, creating complexity an American audience can digest in such characters by taking what they think makes these character different-- i.e. that sense or illusion of naivete, innocence and authenticity people from the developed world thoroughly enjoy in less developed places--and making it into a mirror and a foil for critiquing American cultural hangups, arrogance or exceptionalism. No better example than in the 2009 episode of Monk (Season 8, ep 2) titled "Monk and the Foreign Man", starring Nigeria-British actor, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje.

More changes - here. Follow "supervillians of the modern age" series of posts - here.

Monday, September 26, 2011

DSK and the Chambermaid - Law and Order SVU Close Up

That was fast. Season 13 premier of Law and Order SVU, dubbed "Scorched Earth," rips Guinean hotel maid accusing former IMF chair, Dominque Strauss-Kahn, of rape straight from the headlines. In this episode though, DSK gets swapped for an Italian diplomat played by a guiltier looking Franco Nero, who allegedly rapes a Sudanese hotel maid who may or may not be in it for the money.

Full episode here. The Gothamist on the writing:
The episode covers all the big points: DSK/Nero's insistence of innocence, the maid's allegedly sketchy past, and some scandalous surprise testimony from a last-minute source (ok, so that last part may have been exaggerated for TV, BUT). Showrunner Warren Leight said this episode was a beast to write: "In this case, I don’t believe we ripped from the headlines. I believe the actual story ripped us off...We had to do rewrites. Everything we had in our initial draft had to be changed." Right.
...but I’m a sucker for ripped-from-the-headlines campiness, and the decision to plug the SVU squad into the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case made for some fun bits, all of them involving Ice T. (When Faux-DSK demanded to know why he was being paraded in front of cameras, Ice T cackled: “Freedom of the press, baby!”

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"Wavin Flag" - The Glee-d Remix

Corny but powerful - University of Rochester's singing club, The Yellowjackets, perform Somali troubadour K'naan's "Waving Flag" on the Season 3 premier (September 19, 2011) of NBC's "Sing-Off", a singing competition show featuring a cappella groups.

H/T: @genetparadise

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Burkina Faso/ Egypt: Old and New Television Soap Industries

Two looks at television soap industries.

Egypt, leading producer of TV soaps in the Arab world, especially for viewers during the Ramadan season when families gather to break the fast, now finds its industry faced with a shortage of actors with many pro-Mubarak actors getting blacklisted - Fr here/ translated - here

But the blacklist has had an unintended effect on the storylines writes Enora Castagne and Hannah Ellis-Petersen in Lebanon's Daily Star.

SlateAfrica's Damien Glez on the rise of the soap opera and television industry in Burkina Faso - Fr here. Translated - here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Kenya/ Nigeria: The Rise of Innovative TV and Radio Local Programming

About gone are the days when many African broadcasters simply ran old American TV shows. It was  cheaper to buy foreign than risk local programming. Today, local programming is no longer money-losing content national broadcasters must run so as to satisfy the daily quota of local programming the government insists must be shown. Today, all across the continent, broadcasters are proving quality, innovative local programming can outsell foreign.

Above, CNN's Christian Purefroy checks in on the surging number of listeners and rising ad rates @ Wazobia FM, a "Pidgin English" radio station in Lagos, Nigeria.

Above, Wachira Waruru, CEO, Royal Media recently sat down with Balancing Act to talk about how Citizen TV rose from the number four to the number one TV station in Kenya by adopting a local programming strategy; the impact of these Swahili programs, the changing attitude of advertising agencies, and the success local programmes like Inspekta Mwala, Papa Shirandula and Tahidi High have had.

Friday, June 24, 2011


“Annie” the musical is coming back to Broadway. The producers of the show, which is set to open in the fall of 2012, were looking for girls ages 6 to 12 to audition for the roles of Annie and the orphans. NY Times did an interesting interactive feature on the diversity of 43 of the hundreds of girls who were waiting in line to audition for Annie, the iconic white girl role, in an open casting call on the Upper East Side:

However, if you were a fan of Boston Legal you are laughing your head off right now at the idea of an open call and possibility of a black Annie, because the "black orphan Annie" episode, "Headcases," from season 2, which aired in 2004 already went there and done that. The episode had everything, the kitchen sink--plus Al Sharpton playing himself--thrown in. The good folks at Annieorphans cut together the "black orphan Annie" (played by Jadzia Pittman)  parts into a clip. Enjoy:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ethiopia: "Pleasing Some of the Most Discriminating Manhattan Brides"

Amsale Girls, a reality show about the girls working at Ethiopian wedding dress designer Amsale Aberra's flagship store, premiered June 12th on WeTV.

The show claims to be about the non-stop pressure of pleasing some of the most discriminating Manhattan brides. CNN African Voices profiled the show back in January:

H/T: Nazret

Monday, June 13, 2011

Kenya/ UK: Middle Class Mombasa

Though it's reality television, you still get a rare foreign media glimpse into middle class Kenyan lives in Series 3 of the BBC reality show, "World's Strictest Parents," which aired in the UK November 2010. Two teenagers from Surrey get shipped off to Mombasa, Kenya, to live with new parents. Series synopsis - here. Part 2 below. Parts 1 - 6 @ jambonewspot.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ghana: "Fly to the City of Accra..." - Amazing Race

Missed the Ghana episodes of CBS' Amazing Race from back in October last year. Ghanapedia thoughts - here. EW recap. More - here.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Africa: Francophone Soccer Dreams Meet Reality Television

Scenes from season one of African Football Dream Team: a Reality TV show recruiting 44 young football players from across 10 francophone African countries and giving them 6 to 8 week opportunity to compete for an internship spot with a major European club. The show will be filmed at a sports complex in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, from May to August 2011.

Goals: 1 - Identify and recruit across different countries in Africa young virtuosos football. 2 - put the spotlight on them as part of a reality TV program.3 - Provide the 11 winners of each edition (The Dream Team) the opportunity to do an internship in major European clubs.

Also see Africa is a Country for a closer look at a documentary mix of soap opera, soccer, social change from Kenya.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

East Africa: Grey's Anatomy Adorable Kids from Africa Episode

Lots of adorable sick African kids and attempts to speak swahili on last week's episode of Grey's Anatomy (Season 7: Ep. 20). The episode also starred Bambadjan Bamba.

To counter all the cute kids, AWWWWs and beautiful doctors adopting African babies in the episode, we thought Meredith had the best line:

my Alzheimeh trial kicks African orphan ass...

Friday, May 6, 2011

Nigeria: Supervillains of the Modern Age, Cont'd

Some dudes with awful accents playing trigger happy Nigerians who kidnap a drug lord's son in a March 21 episode of Chicago Code. Niger Delta representin'. Our archives of Nigerians as super-villians in the media - here.

Rather than protest Nigerian villainy adapted to meet the needs of American TV writing, we'd rather protest  that American TV writers should do their homework and read, for example, Misha Glenny's book, McMafia: Crime Without Frontiers to learn how Nigerian international crime syndicates actually roll:
Yet despite a reputation for ruthlessness, the Nigerians in South Africa (or more accurately the Igbo, who make up between 80 and 90 percent of them) run their criminal gangs, as we've seen, on principles of nonviolence. Into Hillbrow and other parts of South Africa, they have imported an egalitarian system of tribal councils stipulating that territories should not be fought over but agreed upon and discussed. "Arbitration, Not Aggravation" could be their slogan (pg. 185).
We've trashed out some of these points before in an old post on Nigerian super-villainy here. Anyway, awful accents aren't the worst thing that can happen when Nigerians are being depicted--or Nigerians are doing the depicting of other generic Africans--in Hollywood. Recall British-Nigerian actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje playing the African tyrant, Wombosi, in 2002 Bourne Identity? Remember the morgue scene, where on seeing the body switched for Cain's he told his aide in Yoruba, "see, didn't I tell you?"... "you're an idiot". Nollywood's dread awful subtitle writers can smile at that clip because Hollywood really screwed the pooch on the translation as well.

We've always thought that was way worse than awful accents.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ethiopia: "A Bullfrog Vacation Spot"

1987 Time Cover

The 1984-85 famine in Ethiopia became such an international TV event in the 80s, that 25 years after the fact, the mention of Ethiopia, especially for older audiences, still rings enough of a pop culture and stereotype bell to set up the "bullfrogs on vacation" joke below from a Season 6 episode of the wickedly funny, irreverent animated show, Family Guy (original air date: Oct 2007):

Even though the frogs are vacationing in Ethiopia, the writers throw in Madonna's Malawi adoptions as well, because after all, Africa is a country. And those willing to go as far back as 1997, then there's also Southpark's "Starvin Marvin - the Ethernopian":

Related examples here and here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Nigeria/ U.K : TV Peckham Catching Up with the Real Life Peckham

Sets being built last year for the Nigerian-British sitcom "Meet the Adebanjos". See S&A for more details.

Watching those sets going up, you can't help getting that feeling the Adebanjos were moving into Desmond's old digs. Feels like the passing of the immigrants-melting pot comedy baton from West Indians to Nigerians. Keeping her fingers crossed, Yoruba Girl Dancing takes a look back at the checkered history of such British sitcoms:
Meet The Adebanjos is about a Nigerian-British family in Peckham (of course), with the kids being the more British arm of the family. I am, despite myself, cautiously optimistic. I saw a couple of clips last year, and didn’t completely hate it, so there’s that. I am also hopeful that the crew and cast (Nigerians-a-go-go, not least Mr Don’t Jealous Me, Tolu Ogunmefun) will add an air of authenticity to the venture. Perhaps the Meet The Adebanjos scriptwriters were all watching and taking notes on The Adesinas on Channel 4′s fly-on-the-wall documentary, The Family last year. It’ll be interesting to see how well it handles its Nigerian-ness; Desmond’s, The Fosters, The Crouches and the Lambert family (Mixed Blessings) were all West Indian.
You'd wish Nigerian-British stand up veterans Andi Osho and Jocelyn Jee were consulting on this.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Africa: Something to do with-America Reality Shows

No pattern emerging here, just a few something to do with America reality shows we noticed popping up from East Africa to Ghana to South Africa:

South African TV personality Nonhle Thema's Nonhle Goes to Hollywood (review) aired in February:

A Hollywood pep talker acting coach will be auditioning actors in Ghana:

A show about a Tanzanian family in the U.S (debuts in East Africa March 25):


Sweet compilation of unforgettable film and television title sequences via Art of the Title sequence blog, compiled for just concluded SXSW fest. Which reminded us Boing Boing recently posted a fabulous Raquel Welch ogling title sequence from Fathom (1967):

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Nigeria: The New Nollywood?

University of Wisconsin-Madison PhD student Matthew Brown who has just spent a year in Nigeria looking at Nollywood tells Balancing Act that everyone in the industry has the feeling Nollywood is on the cusp of something new, but no one knows exactly what.

Writing in ThisDay a few weeks ago, Tony Kan describes the threshold Nollywood now finds itself. He explians that if the soaps of Amaka Igwe, Zeb Ejiro and Lola Fani-Kayode announced the dawn of the new Nigerian Television in the '80s and prepped the Nigerian audiences that would early on fuel demand for those first Nollywood movies, then when the history books are written Kunle Afolayan's The Figurine (2009) will mark the beginning of the New Nollywood. Kan defines the New Nollywood as one that's looking past the straight-to-video model and now seeks to make movies that can go head to head for distribution deals and global box office openings with the best of them:
These movies are, what I would like to call, heralds of a new dawn in Nollywood... What the New Nollywood will do is direct world attention to us in a way that begins to bring in much needed interventions to the industry technically and financially. With a movie like Ije having a second box office run based on popular demand, it is now easy to convince a bank to finance a movie. Secondly, while we continue to hail Multichoice's designation of dedicated channels for Nigerian/African movies, the New Nollywood will engender a paradigm shift. It will see the transition of Nigerian movies from what I call the "DSTV ghetto channels" like African Magic to the real movie channels like 102, 103, 104 etc. more
If the new model is box office releases, then a new Nollywood cinema-going audience will have to emerge--i.e. trained--to form the bedrock for its demand -- the same way a new television audience emerged in the '80s to form the bedrock of demand in the early '90s that saw the first Nollywood blockbusters.

In this light,London's Odeon chain of theaters Special Projects Manager, Moses Babatope, explains (above) the theater chain has been screening Nollywood films since 2006. Below he explains the beginnings/economics of the New [box office] Nollywood to Balancing Act:
In 2010, Odeon Cinemas had 14 screenings of Nollywood films, of which a dozen were premieres with stars in attendance. These included films such as The Figurine and The Tenant (made in Yoruba by Tunde Kelani). As Babatope told us:"We've been doing this since 2006 and started with screenings in Odeon Surrey Quays (an area close to a large part of the Nigerian diaspora population. Sometimes the film-makers or producers approach me and sometimes I approach them. We're always looking out for good films." The deal is on a hire basis: "In trying to build a business case (within Odeon), we had to start by re-invigorating the culture (of going to the cinema) in the core audience. We needed to build this case by doing one-off screenings." The screenings were held late night on either Tuesday or Friday and gave Odeon Cinemas additional income through hire revenues in a dead time and secondary revenues through retail (with sale of things like popcorn):"The promoters of the film deal with the ticketing. But the screenings are tapping into a different demographic for Odeon Cinemas and that interests them." (more)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I recall writing my thesis on intersections between the graphic novel and postcolonial writing back in '04 or '05 and citing stuff from Jefferey Brown's book on the then defunct DC comics Milestone imprint --  a '90s line of comic books created and edited by McDuffie et al. featuring, let's say, a more diverse makeup of characters than you'd normally find in the DC universe. It was around that time I went on a nostalgia bender and went searching for all those Milestone issues of Shadow Cabinet (written by Dwayne McDuffie and drawn by John Paul Leon) I wasn't  able to lay my hands on in the '90s. You didn't have to be a black comic book fan back in the '90s to grasp just how important some of those Milestone books were even to those of us outside the United States. Just seeing the cover of McDuffie's Static and some of the other Milestone books hanging on the wall of Will and Carlton's poolhouse pad every week on syndicated episodes of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air was a trip for some us.


Peers remember the legend - here. NYT - here. TNC - here.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Africa: Animation Dump

South Africa's first 3D animation export: Jock of the Bushveld from Duncan MacNeillie/Jock Animation, signed to Visio Entertainment for US and UK release later 2011:

Recall the old trailer for Zambezia from Cape Town studio Triggerfish? Below, the full U.S promo posted back in November. International release details - here:

According to Timbuktu Chronicles and Paula Callus , the website for the Nigerian-produced children animation Bino and Fino is up. In the clip below, children are taught what "colonialism" is - "those uninvited visitors" (lol).

Jamati Online flags the longer clip below from TransTales' Mark of Uru (2008) for the DVD release and music video. Dialogue in the excerpt below is all kinds of awesome:

A recently stumbled on snippet from German-Burkinabe animator  Sawadogo Cilia's 2005 L'arbre aux Esprits:

L'arbre aux Esprits
Uploaded by ACAPIGA. - Independent web videos.

It was also fun to see the amount of work that went into animating the scene from Africa United where the indefatigable Dudu tells the other kids a story:


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