The amazing impact of the recent Nollywood blockbuster “Water of Gold” is a fascinating example of the power of political art. Science Daily now reports that researchers saw the movie’s effect in real time. MIT researchers Graeme Blair, Rebecca Littman and Elizabeth Levy Paluck contributed to the study:
They don’t give an Academy Award for this, but a Nigerian feature film, “Water of Gold,” made viewers significantly more likely to report corruption, according to a new paper co-authored by an MIT researcher. That’s the main outcome of an innovative experiment designed to investigate whether media, such as films, can shift social norms and combat corruption. In the case of “Water of Gold,” in Nigeria, the film clearly can change behavior. Or at least one version of the film.
As it happens, “Water of Gold” is a “Nollywood” film (a loose term referring to the Nigerian film industry, the world’s third-largest), commissioned for the purposes of this experiment. The movie, set in the Niger Delta, is a sibling story about two brothers. One brother, Natufe, is a poor fisherman. But Natufe’s brother, Priye, leaves the Niger Delta, gets rich in business, returns home, and becomes a corrupt politician — to the dismay of Natufe, who becomes outspoken about endemic local corruption.
An overview of the research provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology was written up by Peter Dizikes for the MIT News service.