I didn’t watch Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards live because the day coincided with a bosom friend’s father’s funeral. But I followed it on Twitter. When I returned, I read our post on the winners and I missed an important error in the post. The post had given the name of Swanky JKA as the winner of Best Actor. I think I understand the error. The writer probably expected Swanky to win the award of Best Actor in A Drama or TV series and marked his name (WINNER) but forget to change it when the name of Egbuson was read out.
It was only when I rewatched the show on Monday that I spotted the error – Swanky actually won the Trailblazer Award and not the Best Actor award. For a long moment, I watched the TV with incredulity – how can this be? Swanky’s performance was solid in “Living in Bondage: Breaking Free”. While I didn’t watch other acts nominated in the category, I watched a portion of Elevator Baby and Timini’s performance was average at best and flat mostly.
I was surprised he was nominated at all. I can count more than a dozen actors in the past two years who had a better male lead role. I considered Timini’s nomination as a token and didn’t expect him to win. But it is Africa Magic Viewers Choice Award. Viewers make the choice. Which brings me to the essence of this post: Multichoice should change AMVCA format.
I read on Twitter that Timini Egbuson took the campaign for votes too far. He was said to have campaigned on the roadside, on the gym, everywhere, shamelessly. Sharing the link on Twitter and Instagram is normal but accosting people at the bus stop and at a funeral is indecent. It is viewers’ choice, not a popularity contest; it is not Big Brother Naija. When you influence the public to vote for you, when you coarse family and friends to influence their followers to vote for you, it is no longer viewers’ choice. It is not even viewers’ choice because how many of the people Timini was accosting in Oshodi bus stop watched “Elevator Baby”?
There is no serious creative award on earth that is completely decided by viewers. Even AMVCA itself has a lot of other categories that are judged by judges. Viewers are not critical experts and can be easily swayed by the herd mentality that has become the norm on Social Media and elsewhere. Since many of the winners of these awards have passed it as a testimony of their critical excellence, the decision in critical categories should not be left in the hands of viewers.
My bother with AMVCA format may have been triggered by the sleazy way with which Timini usurped Swanky’s award but it is not the only cause of my suspicion that viewers may not be the best choosers. Look at the following nominees and winners, for instance:
Best Supporting Actress in a Movie or TV Series Nominees:
Toni Tones – King Of Boys
Eucharia Anunobi – The Foreigner’s God
Gloria Sarfo – The Perfect Picture: 10 Years Later (WINNER)
Tina Mba – The Set Up
Mary Lazarus – Size 12
Best Supporting Actor in a Movie or TV Series Nominees:
Richard Mofe Damijo (Rmd) – Seven
Nkem Owoh – God Calling
Remilekun ‘Reminisce’ Safaru – King Of Boys
Pascal Tokodi – Disconnect (WINNER)
Ramsey Nouah – Living In Bondage: Breaking Free
Notice that whenever there is a single non-Nigerian among the nominees, the non-Nigerian wins. The belief is that while Nigerian viewers share their votes, the votes of Kenyans and Ghanaians in bulks win for their compatriots. This may just be coincidental and since Nigerians dominate the awards, it can be overlooked; but it is a pointer.
How AMVCA Format can be improved
The AMVCA should ban shameless canvassing of votes. They should say something like this on the day of nomination, on their website and repeatedly on TV: “Nominees are prohibited from campaigning for votes. A nominee may share the link to the voting platform on their Social Media bios, but they are not allowed to continually share it online or harass people on the roadside and the gym and elsewhere. Nor are their families and friends permitted to run campaigns on their behalf. The use of influencers is not allowed. Contravening any of these rules would lead to the disqualification of the nominees. It is called viewers choice and we want it to be viewers’ true choice.”
Something like this.
Or the organizers may quietly remove the Best Actor and Best Actress categories from the list of categories decided by viewers. They may allow supporting actors and actresses and comedic categories to be ruined ruled by viewers. The argument against this may be that this is taking more powers from the viewers for which the award is named after. Well, the majority of the categories were never decided by the viewers so ducking two more categories off the plate of viewers-decided portions will not doom the award. Moreover, judges are also viewers.
Meanwhile, Timini Egbuson can go on gloating on Twitter and elsewhere as though his performance on “Elevator Baby” got him the award. It didn’t and AMVCA with a small tweak of their format can ensure that future Swanky JKAs are not robbed of their deserving prizes.
Image source: FRCN