HAJI MOHAMED DAWJEE: We need more movies! When do we need them? Now!


We’re three months away from December. That means that we would have been in a global pandemic for two years on the 19th day of the last month of this year. No, it will not be over by then. And if the past two years have taught me anything – besides the fact that many of the human race are set on becoming hooved animals because of their insistence on taking Ivermectin and that far too many people in the world believe in the rubbish that is black seed oil and not getting vaccinated – it is that we will literally watch anything to entertain ourselves, escape and procrastinate. Anything. Literally.

A reality show about couples who definitely need to break up but insist on testing their relationship with other people at a beach house? Sure. Another reality show about an island villa where people insist they’re not in it for the money but for true love? Sign me up. A dating show on Netflix where everyone is costumed as a monster and they have no idea what the other person looks like because they’re supposed to be attracted to personalities? Why the hell not? Documentary after documentary that are lazily based on podcasts and contain several drawn-out unnecessary episodes that we will willingly dedicate 5 hours to, only to find out that the investigation has yet to find the killer or the alien or the dead body? One hundred percent not worth it, but here we are.

I miss movies. I miss good movies. In fact, I miss them so much that I have re-watched some of my favourites over and over again to the point of nausea. I hate that this has happened. A joy that could always be depended on has now turned into a chronic stomach-churning illness. And why? Because the impact of the pandemic has resulted in a poverty-stricken entertainment industry with very little in the way of quality cinematic art to offer. Sure there’s the odd release here and there that’s been well worth it, but honestly, I can’t name them off the top of my head, which means they’re ultimately forgettable and my god, how many superhero movies do we need?

We need movies. And we need them now.

This may seem like a very, very dislocated and shallow statement. People, it is not. All those who work in the industry, from the actors to the composers, the writers, every single background staff member, including caterers and those people who are responsible for taping x’s to the ground, have deeply been affected by the drop in production.

If we think this has nothing to do with us, we are sorely mistaken. It does. And I feel my brain dying a little with the nonsense I am subjected to watching because there is no real art out there every single day.

Movies affect our lives in ways that are more powerful than we realised. There is impact and influence in the moving image and it doesn’t stop there. We’re absorbing dialogue, the rise and fall of a haunting violin, sound and special effects elicit responses in the brain that we’re unlikely to easily stimulate elsewhere, and even something as “simple” as lighting can help us reflect on our lives and move us in deep ways.

And while we’re on the subject of life and how it reflects art and visa versa, a movies is the one medium that is a great equaliser in terms of transporting ourselves into a penetrable world of the other. It helps us better understand that society around us. For two hours we can transform ourselves into living the life of someone else, or have a better understanding of our own lives. We are constantly consuming the way in which the world operates through a form of entertainment that doesn’t necessarily feel like work, but sticks to us the same way a social study might.

The film industry is responsible for so much more than intellectual stimulation. Movies have the ability to make us cry, laugh, feel deeply depressed or incredibly hopeful. Many people will find this same shift in emotion in staring at a Jackson Pollock or Monet’s paintings of water lilies, but really, demographically speaking, those many are a small portion of the world’s population. Not everyone can walk into the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but a vast majority of the human race can turn on a television.

On average, in Hollywood alone, the industry releases 600 films per year. That number in Nollywood and Bollywood are much, much higher. And believe it or not, this is not a numbers game. In fact, many stats show that movie releases during the pandemic were higher than average because we had nothing to do except watch things. So, we got offered lots and lots of low-budget meaningless scraps. Movies are about quality and not quantity and we now find ourselves in September where we can not only look forward to that wonderfully chunky Vogue edition, but also a promise of films that were just waiting to be released.

I need those release dates to be today because I simply cannot watch a gremlin fall in love with a devil because they’re falling in love with each other’s personalities. We all know that looks actually do matter. We are that shallow. And movies matter as well.

Haji Mohamed Dawjee is a South African columnist, disruptor of the peace and the author of ‘Sorry, Not Sorry: Experiences of a brown woman in a white South Africa’. Follow her on Twitter.

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