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The world is full of famous directors, producers and actors. You can probably name ten of such people before you take the next breath. However, there are some actors who have never starred in any movie either blockbuster or low budget. These actors do not belong to any recognized body nor are their directors recognized for their works, outstanding or poor. Perhaps you would be interested to know that the shooting and production of their films require no script or cameras. Welcome to the mysterious world of the unknown actors working in a hidden industry.
Time and again, we witness people being christened with names and titles other than the ones they were given at birth. Maybe some of us have been beneficiaries of the generosity of the ‘naming team’. Whatever the case, it does not end there. Here is what happens in most cases: because names usually have a meaning attached, the new bearers of these names go on to start living out the essence of the new names and titles they have been given. It is at this point that they enrol into the mysterious industry of unknown filmmakers.




At first it appears that, the ‘naming team’ are experts at deciphering the human nature thereby qualifying them as Ambassadors of Adam or in the context of this piece, directors. We imagine that the ‘directors’ have given the ‘actors’ names based on the roles they have seen them play, based on their knowledge of the human psyche or better still, because these people deserve those names. However, how about we looked at it another way- that the ‘actor’ acts the way he does because of the role assigned him by the ‘director’.
Quite often, we hear stories of men with good jobs and fantastic salary stoop so low as to defraud the companies in which they work just to keep up with the image that people have of them. Many average people have been touted in their villages of origin as men and women of great substance; therefore, they find numerous (shady) ways to keep up with that impression. However, this piece is not devoted to the travails of those unfortunate individuals. Instead, we will be looking at how this phenomenon applies to our routine everyday lives.
At one point or the other in our lives, we have been custodians of one or two nicknames. Such nicknames fall under some major themes such as: clerical, academic, financial, social and physical. Examples from each theme would include nicknames as pastor, professor, importer, party rider, macho etc. Nicknames have a place in our schools, offices and families and can save people the stress of having to pronounce some tongue-twisting names. However, when the essence of nicknames start to imply flattery or belittle the recipient’s self esteem or cause the ‘nicknamed’ to start suiting his/her lifestyle to fit the illusion created by the label, then the purpose of nicknaming needs checking.
An experiment conducted in the USA showed that when brilliant students were treated as if they were below average students, they performed poorly. Likewise, when below average students were treated like ‘A’ students, their scores improved considerably. The moral of that experiment is that people tend to become what other people call them or see them as rather than who they really are.
Many people define their activities, leisure or even career based on what people perceive them as. For example, a stepmother tells her stepson that he is a dullard and cannot achieve anything in life. The boy sees this as the ultimate truth and continues to live with this mentality unless an intervention occurs soon enough. The same goes for Africans and African Americans who continue to see themselves in the light of an acquired inferiority complex while they worship the ‘supernatural wisdom’ of the Caucasian.
Alternatively, take the example of a student who has acquired and accepted the title of ‘pastor’. The recipient of this title suddenly finds himself restrained by the expectations that come with the title. Suddenly, we expect him to be gentle, overly generous, not to fight for his rights or show any active interest in politics. We even expect that he should not be involved in romantic relationships. He suddenly finds his actions restricted by statements such as ‘Ahh, and you are a pastor’. Therefore, he is forced to fine-tune his actions to the expectations of his title/nickname. He now evaluates his activities in the light of the suitability to his title, not necessarily in the light of morality or inner convictions. He stops doing things he would have done (even if they do not violate his conscience or God). In short, he has enrolled into the Academy of Unknown Filmmakers and is now acting out a script handed to him by the society. The same goes for the ‘Miss Class’ who must keep up the ‘attitude’ to ensure that she is in conformity with her nickname or should we overlook the Class ‘big boy’ who must continue to buy drinks for everybody to ensure a constant stream of praises for the image that was created by the praise singers in the first place. We cannot afford to ignore ‘the professor’ who must live a nerdy life in order to live up the standards expected of ‘profs’ neither can we pretend as if the guy who goes the ‘excess mile’ just to impress a lady and defend his title as a ladies’ man does not exist. I am sure you get the whole idea now.
I will conclude by rephrasing my first paragraph: ‘The world around us is filled with unknown actors; People acting out scripts given to them by their immediate society without giving a thought as to how it fits into the unique agenda for their lives.’ A few years ago, I made a decision to stop acting out someone else’s script. I do not know about you


Ifeoluwapo Odedere
© 2012


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