The Perfect Picture: Is That Your Idea of Civilization?

blankAn article published on this site a couple of weeks ago caught my attention. I was not intrigued by its content, but by the responses it provoked. I was indifferent as I was not at the receiving end of these criticisms. However, I was compelled to write this article based on the rationale behind the critiques of the article. I am personally not adverse to criticism (my articles have drawn their fair share, as a matter of fact, I feed on them), It is something that I encourage and appreciate deeply. But, it gets scary when the critiques seem to be coming from a tainted perception.

The backlash from readers stemmed from the author’s criticism of the portrayal of luxury in the movie “The Perfect Picture” while stressing the need to showcase our culture. Although I will concede that the luxury portrayed was not overboard, it is still a travesty of the true representation of our society. However, if being westernized is our idea of civilization then we are more enslaved in our perception than I thought. Given the responses, it is palpable that some readers are still engrossed in the ideology of eurocentrism-I daresay a sorry state indeed.

Society is at a point where it is almost impossible to put labels on what is normal or abnormal, or on what is acceptable or unacceptable. No matter how pervasive these westernized ideologies may be, it is important to place the preservation of one’s identity as one’s top priority. At times, I feel like I am caught between two civilizations (Yes! Our culture is a civilization in its own right), but I’ve found a way to mesh both without comprising my heritage. So when will your priorities begin to crystallize?

The comments mainly centered on the need to portray our society in a different light given the negative image the international media presents.  The international media has marginalized its reports as the majority of the reports are centered on the negativity or the many calamities plaguing Africans.  It has gotten to a point where everyone including those in diaspora has had their fill of the negative publicity.

Throughout my educational career, I have had some unpleasant encounters regarding this issue. The lack of sensitivity to my feelings given the prickly nature of the subject coupled with unforgivable ignorance once sent me into such rage; all my manners went flying out the window. My hands curled so hard that my nails dug painfully into my palms, and I was itching so badly to land my bony knuckles on the mouth of the young African-American who dared to ask me if “WE AFRICANS LIVED ON TREES,” seconds after I had proudly revealed my nationality.

It took every ounce of patience in my body to restrain myself. I was thankful for the experience I have gained from interacting with diverse individuals as it came in handy, else I would have hit him and landed myself in a tangle of legal mess. However, something else stopped me; he asked me with such innocence, I couldn’t blame him. Why wouldn’t he think like that when the media is obsessed with reporting on the disease and war stricken parts of Africa, while documenting the nomadic lifestyle of some African tribes?

Information reaching the outside world on African is nothing but gruesome, but who will blame them? The shock effect gets them the ratings they are all scrambling for, not to mention the stash of cash it is going to put in networks executives pockets. To grab the public’s attention, it is a well known fact that the media will sensationalize stories whether it falls within the context of noble journalism or not.

However, can a mere movie reaching less than 0.1% of the world’s population change the already deeply embedded view the world has of Africans? The answer is NO! Besides what is wrong with portraying a more realistic picture of our society? What is wrong with creating character that mimic the various hawkers on the street who toil from dawn to dusk to make ends meet as the author suggested? As a matter of fact, what is wrong with showing the gutter and pile of unavoidable rubbish on our streets!? Are our streets platted in gold? Are they squeaky clean and glossy?

Cheesy representations of our society are not enough to change the gloomy outside opinions.  The irony here is that majority of Ghanaians cannot afford the sort of lifestyle depicted in the movie. Even the technically advanced South African Film Industry which has produced an Oscar winning movie hasn’t changed the world’s view of South Africa-that is a poor AIDS stricken country. The truth is our society is on the brink of losing its culture to westernization, it is so far from its true identity it’s all but lost in a farce.

We have so many stories to tell but all are silenced by the continual depiction of westernized storylines, our rich culture is fading rapidly. If we want a more positive image of our society, I am afraid it will take more than a movie to achieve that. To change the world’s view of our country/society, there must be a comprehensive government reform, a government that puts competency ahead of cronyism. I will not dabble in politics as this is neither the time nor place for it.  You can boo hoo all you want about the injustice of it all, but remember…The dogs will bark but the caravan rolls on!

By: Cassie Johnson


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