Monday, March 7, 2016

REVIEW. M-Net's 4th Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards on DStv's Africa Magic channels once again a mistake-filled, dull mess with bad production values.

M-Net's 4th Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards on Saturday afternoon and evening was sadly once again a mistake-filled, dull mess with bad production values that gives Nollywood and Africa's film industry a really bad name.

The cringe-filled 4th Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards from the Eko Hotel in Lagos, Nigeria, was beamed across the larger part of the African continent on the collection of Africa Magic channels of MultiChoice's DStv platform on Saturday afternoon and evening.

Once again, as in previous years, the embarrassingly bad "red carpet coverage", followed by the live broadcast award show that was painful to watch, were filled with cringe-inducing technical mistakes, human error and talent that didn't prepare.

The shoddy production values of the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards 2016 is a testament to how little attention M-Net and the producers are apparently putting in to produce anything remotely resembling a proper live award show broadcast.

It makes it even more ironic when M-Net executives then say - as they did again on Saturday night - that the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards is the best award show in Africa if not the world. It simply isn't true and rings hollow given the blatant shoddy production values and mistakes.

Why is it so difficult to hire and deploy the right people with award show broadcast expertise to do this award show, instead of subjecting viewers to the trash television that's the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards? African viewers deserve better.

During the messy broadcast, M-Net for instance reminded viewers that "vaginal tightening" as a service is available from one of the 4th Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards nominee cocktail sponsors (to create "the confident you").

Africa Magic didn't show the sponsor's "procedures" once, but several times. There's nothing wrong with it, it's just not award show TV genre appropriate.

Meanwhile M-Net once again, like every year, struggled to spell basic words and winner names right and shamefully couldn't even get the name or title of M-Net's own West Africa boss, Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu, correct. How embarrassing.

So much was again wrong with M-Net's inept 4th Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards that started at 17:00 on Saturday with its "red carpet coverage" and ended its awards show at 22:45 that it would take pages and pages to explain - something this unvarnished mess doesn't deserve.

First there was the red carpet, filled with inappropriate presenters, a laughably pathetic "fashion police" duo on a platform in a corner, presenters who haven't prepared and presenters who didn't care or knew how to ask any relevant questions (due to a lack of background and preparation).

The presenters didn't know and didn't bother to practice how to pronounce people's names correctly - even asking the M-Net CEO Yolisa Phahle on live television, "did i say it correctly?"

By the time you interview people, especially on TV, you should already know Eku Edewor - it's actually your job ... that you're not properly doing.

It was cringe-inducing having to watch idiots saying inane things like "the red carpet is full" while the camera pans and shows a largely empty red carpet.

Meanwhile Eku Edewor asked nominees things like (I kid you not) "Are you a vampire?" (surely a first-ever for any red carpet in the world anywhere).
A woman called Helen Paul (who looked like a bird pooped on her hair) was probably the most empty-headed, unprepared embarrassment ever let loose on a red carpet - and that says a lot. 

Who thought this flake let loose on something she is not competent for, will enhance and enrich this broadcast? 

She belongs in a Teletubbies type pre-school school where young viewers still relate to unintelligible noises and won't tire of her tedious and repetitive, "I'm going to ask you a question. My question I want to ask you is ...".    

The pawing Uti Nwachukwu who grabbed at everyone he interviewed was hardly better but at least filled the time acting like in-studio crowd-warmers do, trying to hype up energy that just wasn't there.

Meanwhile the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards pushed a woman who who looked like she's dressed in a fishing net and white llama hair and her gay fashionista cohort onto viewers during its red carpet coverage, trying to to emulate America with what they think fashion coverage should be.

The childlike and excitable twosome kept babbling over each other with fake American accents begging viewers to "send us your comments" and liking everything. The badly done Nolly-nonsense was painful and sad to watch. 

Then there was the Nigerian focus of it all - a total fawning and over-emphasis on Nigerian talent on the red carpet at an award show purportedly meant to showcase the entire Africa. 

Is this really us, Africa?

The dull and drab live red carpet coverage of the 4th Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards hilariously suddenly ended half an hour before the award show started (when the most stars actually arrive!) for pre-recorded coverage of the nominees and other claptrap. 
When you only have two words to spell correctly and can't even manage that, what does it say of the standard of your overall TV production and its values?

Already M-Net struggled, showing people the 'coctail' evening on Friday night and botching its own boss' name as 'Uzouku'.

Later in the night during the ceremony Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu was again mistakenly referred to on-screen, this time as "regional director Africa Magic West". If you can't even get your boss' name and title right at your own event...

With the terrible "coctail" coverage I knew that the 4th Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards would once again be a sad Saturday phone-in show, with more that would be wrong than basically right or even remotely excellent.

To its credit the 4th Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards had no channel broadcast blackouts this year, no wrong envelopes were opened, no family members stormed the stage to talk, and the sound didn't cut out for long periods as happened in previous years.

Viewers were however subjected to bad production values.

This ranged from panning shots over lots of empty seats, sound problems throughout (singer Zonke even removed her earpiece), erratic and shaky camerawork (are sports crews doing awards show coverage?), presenters mangling names, presenters not talking into mics and too soft sound.

Mix in spelling mistakes (its "Akin Omotoso" for instance, but if you botch your boss' name, you probably don't care about actually checking the names of anybody else either) and the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards was again more like "viewers given bad television" awards.

South Africa's Minnie Dlamini was professional, spoke fluidly to smooth over bumps and was well-prepared.

In contrast the boring IK Osakioduwa came across as stale - constantly shading other people, as if he didn't really prepare and just defaulted to his one gear performance and the same rehashed comments he's been using for the past three years.

Besides dressing up, what did he actually do to prepare for this specific event?

The South African comedian Thomas Gumede with some borderline racist jokes and bad material fell flat with no love from the crowd or the audience.

In contrast the Ugandan comedian Salvador who clearly prepared was a delight. He knew who the crowd would be and played to the audience successfully, eliciting laughs and applause.

The laughably pathetic and totally inadequate "In Memoriam" segment was once again a botched, mind-boggling, one-sided, mostly Nollywood-only affair.

There wasn't one Asian, Indian, white or otherwise "deserving" person who've worked in Africa's film and television industry who've died in the past year according to the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards across the entire continent that it could find or thought worthy to include.

(In reality there were several, but the In Memoriam segment remains another part of this award show that reveals just how much it isn't actually fully including all of Africa).

How bad it looks when people like Akin Omotoso had to present but couldn't due to technical problems and in-venue voice-over playing; when a winner still want to talk but is pushed off stage and heard saying "Oh, I'm sorry";when winners are on stage, not talking and there's no sound or anything else and just silence, or when Minnie Dlamini just stands there and doesn't know what to do next?

Award shows are built on unexpected and emotional moments - moments that producers can't prepare for but should be ready to capture and exploit for maximum effect. The 4th Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards delivered two.

The first moment was Nigeria's Adesua Etomi, winning for best actress in a drama for Falling who did the acceptance speech that makes an award show work - when it means something to, and inspires others.

"If you are watching wherever you are, you can be whoever you want to be and do whatever you want to do. You don't have to be scared. You will make it. I know, because I used to be scared like you. But I'm not afraid anymore".

The most emotional and most beautiful moment of the night at the 4th Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards 2016 was however undoubtedly when the veteran Nigerian actress Bukki Ajayi was rolled out on stage in her wheelchair to accept an "industry merit" award - the AMVCA version of a lifetime achievement award.

Bukki Ajayi started to talk - but then mamma was overcome by emotion as the audience stood up for her out of respect.

"I just want to say, to all of you, I want to say 'thank you'. You don't know how much this means to me. I ... I ..." and then words left her, she lifted her hand to her face, and started to cry.

"I want to say, thank you, very very much. I'm very, very happy. From the bottom of my heart. Don't mind that I'm crying, this is the first time that I see that people have really ... Oh god."

"Thank you. I wish I can stand up. But if I stand up, I will fall down. Are you all standing for me?" asked Bukki Ajayi. And the audience shouted "yes" as applause rang out.

M-Net's Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards has so much potential but it is constantly being squandered by ineffective production and planning.

The people responsible for this seem oblivious to what proper award show industry standards are and to adhere to it when it comes to producing specifically within the award show genre.

It's not fun to watch and it's badly produced - and that is a problem for something that wants to make as if represents the African continent.

If it wants to really be "Africa's Oscars" as it keeps saying, saying it isn't enough, and won't make it so. It requires actual work; hard work that needs to be put into it to make it truly representative and to lift the tatty production trash that's not up to par but that viewers must apparently be grateful for.

The Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards needs a lot of tightening - sadly it seems focused on the wrong type.