Character is what you do when no one is looking
H. Jackson Brown
There's a popular saying that I love very much, it is "You are what you eat". When someone eats something, it doesn't always mean eating food for sustenance. For the purpose of this article, let us define eating as 'taking something in'.
In our society today, there are various foods to choose from; I want to talk about our entertainment meal. There are so many new acts like D'banj and Wizkid and Iyanya and Davido and Terry G and so many of them. These acts make music for us youths which we play sometimes daily, on our phones, in parties, on the road. But what do these musicians teach us, and what does their music say?
I am not here to judge what anybody listens to but I want to point out a few things; by vector algebra, when a vector is multiplied by a scalar, it also gives a vector of the same order as the parent vector. Simply put, when you take in something, that thing becomes a part of you. If you listen to songs about "I want to take her home" or "see the way she's shaking her bum bum", no matter how morally upright you are, with time you would want to try one of these things yourself. If you are a fan of mainstream American hip hop where the lyrics sometimes are "Codeine in a sprite can" or "feeling so high, I swear I can touch the clouds", you would want to get high enough to touch the clouds someday even if you never had such interests before you consumed that meal. The point is, you are what you listen to and the more you eat those, the greater a part of you they become.
The Nigerian music industry has evolved so much in recent times that it is almost unrecognizable to those of us who still remember Daddy Showkey and Tony Tetuila. In videos nowadays, all we see is ladies shaking their buttocks and men smoking and drinking or both of them in scenes of lascivity. I know we all know what all these things are but when we see them on TV, we would want to know what they feel like, to change the theory to practical. Any youth can practically do what he wants but then, what happens to our children coming after us. Would we want such lifestyles for them? Profanity and lascivity displayed on wide 60 inch HD screens to corrupt their innocent souls. I'm not saying we should not sing about what we like (I always advocate for freedom after all), but when what we like to do incites people to immorality, how do feel?
I recently read an article about teenagers who were involved in heinous crimes against their teachers and fellow students and when they were asked why they did those things, they blamed it on Stephen King's 'Rage'. SK had the book pulled from publication and banned it because of those crimes and that is what I like to think of as responsibility. When he wrote Rage in 1984 or so, he probably just wrote it for entertainment purposes but when he saw that it was causing something he did not intend, he did not simply fold his hands and say "After all, I did not force them to buy it", he took responsibility and (Rage is a wonderful book Lord knows) he did what he did. And so, when our artistes shoot videos that incite immorality and which make us youths do things we should not be proud of, boys flirting with girls and using them as playthings or teenagers under 18 in nightclubs, smoking and drinking, they should see the path of responsibility and if they do not, why don't we. We can not rebuild a nation when there are cancerous practices eating us from within when we are still youths to talk less of when the reins of leadership are handed to us.
I observed something in my few years on earth that seems a bit funny, but I observed that adolescents and youths who watch cartoons (teen cartoons not Spongebob or Ben 10) are actually more creative and imaginative than those who do not. While some youths find cartoons childish, it is a way of life for some. The popular manga/anime Naruto and Bleach are clear examples of those. The followings of those cartoons are so enormous that one would almost believe the characters are real.
The movies we watch as well also affect our behaviour. If we watch Nollywood movies 24/7, (this is a biased opinion) I think we would be very dumb. Not to badmouth our movies, but I am yet to watch any original Nollywood movie that actually taught me something useful. Whereas, Indian, American and even Japanese movies do teach us a thing or two. A few articles back, I talked about the Indian movie, Three Idiots and anybody who has watched that movie can testify to the fact that the movie actually touched a nerve in them; not to talk of Slumdog Millionaire. The popular American movie, Let It Shine has inspired at least two people I know to pursue their rap dreams more fervently. You Got Served, Stomp The Yard and Step Up have inspired so many dance crews that last year when I was in OAU, Ife for Ghost Protocol, the MC 'yabbed' one dance crew for using Stomp The Yard moves too much. The Japanese movie, Memoirs of a Geisha, is easily one of the most touching movies I ever watched.
And next meal I will talk about is video games. A number of youths I know see video games as childish and a waste of time but let me cite an example of why they are not. Last year, I went for a quiz competition and the question the Quizmaster asked was what was the highest hand a player could have in a game of poker, it was actually a bonus to me as when I am joking with my brother, we always say it, I quickly told him Royal Flush and although we did not win the tournament, we won that round. I would not have known the answer to that question if I never played the game Devil May Cry. I recently read an article online about 21 benefits of video games and I will cite a few, Video games encourage cooperation as in when playing multiplayer games, they aid in relaxation, they improve cognitive memory and make problem solving easier (cc Parasite Eve and Resident Evil), and they even help boost self esteem. Not all video games teach things extremely useful but instead of playing a game like Whot or simply galivanting and causing nuisance to the society, why not use the time to play a video game? You could learn a thing or two.
Finally, the books we read. This is one of the most influential forms of entertainment in my opinion. The books we read define us and give us an identity while changing our thinking process and our outlook on life. People who read non-fiction, articles and speeches, tend to be unimaginative but actually very clear-headed and target-driven. People who read religious books tend to be deep thinkers and spiritually endowed. People who read inspirational books tend to want to inspire people and touch lives. People who read Silhouette and Mills and Boon tend to be romantic dreamers who believe in fairy tales and love. People who read Espionage and spy books tend to be imaginative and alert, always looking out for the man in the shadows. People who read Horror, Macabre, or Fantasy tend to be highly imaginative, with an eye or ear for perception and those who read all of the above tend to be a little bit crazy (that's a joke). The point is, what you read is what you are and if you spend all your time reading your school books for academic purposes only, you will be an unimaginative bookworm even if your school books are literary texts.
The music, movies, games, books and people we meet influence our lives positively or negatively. It is all a choice of what we want to do with our time, and what we want our life to be when we no longer have so much time for recreation. As for me, I have George Martins A Song of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones lying in a folder waiting for me and I'm gonna read all five hundred and fifty three pages of it with relish!
Time waits for no man, my dear friends and until next time,