Well how does it feel to watch blockbuster movies? For me since childhood, I have been fond of Hollywood movies like Titanic. I remember I use to mimic Spiderman with my primary school mates. Lately I enjoyed watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
What surprised me recently was a news item that “Ban Ki-moon, the normally buttoned-up Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), swept into Los Angeles during Oscar week playing the role of Hollywood pitchman”, with the simple message – ‘make global warming a hot issue…by animating stories of climate change that focus on heat waves, floods…..which scientist link to human induced climate change’.
Beyond the enjoyment we get from watching movies, it is interesting to think about the impact of the movie industry from a development perspective. For example, when you think of the thousands and millions of people who purchase and watch a movie that is produced and then turn to consider how this can sustain the movie industry to create employment for people who would otherwise have been unemployed. Or when you think of the relief that movies bring after a hard day’s work or week. Some hilarious movies like Osofia in London from Nollywood – the movie industry in Nigeria that has huge market in Ghana – can make you laugh till you have pain in your ribs. Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that laughter can promote human health. On the other hand, there are those that also suggest that movies can impact negatively on the lives of young people, for example by glamourising violence.
I don’t know what prompted the UN’s engagement with Hollywood, but I certainly sometimes prefer movies that carry thought-out development messages such as on irregular migration (also known as illegal migration) or child trafficking rather than reading long reports. I remember watching Deadly Voyage, which revealed the harrowing conditions of irregular immigrants, as an experience that influenced my own drive and interest in migration issues. Or there are movies like Blood Diamond, which brought to a wider audience some home truths about how diamonds can fuel conflict.
Should we expect to see the creation of more movies that raise awareness and educate on development issues like migration and development, diversity, MDGs, child rights, youth unemployment, human trafficking, to mention but a few?
Have you seen any movies or TV shows that address daily youth and development issues? How did such a movie or TV show impact on your attitude to people or to nature? To what extent would you prefer movies that carry a development-centered message to another which does not? Could the sharing of development issues through movies be a way of engaging a younger audience? Do you think the UN Secretary General should make similar visits to competing moves industries like Bollywood and Nollywood in India and Nigeria respectively following his recent visit to Hollywood?