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The recession blues

I had a meeting with the head of school a couple of weeks ago to discuss a possible topic for my PhD thesis; it was quick. It went something like this: “So professor, I am keen to explore the Nigerian film industry. I have some great ideas.”

He responds: “That’s wonderful Michelle; it will involve some travel to Nigeria.” The last part was more implied than spelt out.

And that’s where our conversation ended. The PhD itself is free at our fair institution but there’s no funding for the actual research — as in expenses incurred through travel or hiring of research assistants.

I walked out of his office glum; needless to say my buzz was completely murdered. This recession is really hashing my mellow.

I remember, what now seems like a lifetime ago, when the idea of the recession was simply something dreamt up by boring financial people who didn’t know how to have fun. When varsity students could lunch in style; way back in 2007 when lunches were comprised of a three-course meal, which began with escargot, the main course lobster served on a bed of wild rice, and baked cheese cake with strawberry clothed cream for dessert all washed down with a glass of fine wine. Yes, even though the next day I would be broke and had to survive on a R3.50 toasted sandwich from “kara-munchies”.

These days such an indulgence is a taboo, stuff found in back episodes of Boston Legal involving Denny Crane, Alan Shore and possibly a balcony. Now it’s a garden salad eaten under the façade of a diet.

Everywhere I go I keep hearing about the dreaded R, it’s starting to feel like a dirty word. Every time I spend money on something that could be considered frivolous I feel the judging eyes of a big R sulking behind me in a dark alley getting ready to make me pay for my crimes.

People everywhere are looking for an alternate source of income and they are getting more and more desperate.

It seems the best way to try and combat the effects of the dreaded R is to get famous, people get famous by doing nothing all the time, look at Paris Hilton and Perez Hilton. I could start a YouTube channel chronicling my dreams with the dreaded R, depicted by my uber tall friend in an R costume, chasing me down an alley in the dead of night, I bet that will get some press. I would have to jazz it up every now and again, maybe engage the R in a fist fight, you know “fighting the recession”. Or me reading a book on derivatives pretending I get it just so the big R would leave me alone. I am not quite sure how it will work. I am still working out the kinks.

A couple of years from now when the recession has reached its peak, with pictures immortalising it in art galleries and my YouTube show has been turned into a TV movie starring Gabrielle Union or something some schmuck living in his mother’s basement will decide to make money off of the dreaded R. Ironic huh? He’ll write what he will term “the best script of our time”. Some industry douche-bag will produce it because he has copious amounts of money and he is bored or possibly high. This “masterpiece” will be produced with the best resources known to man. They’ll grunge it up in editing and add a few shaky camera effects and call it guerrilla filmmaking because anything with Blair Witch-esque camera angles is guerrilla these days it seems. Its opening sequence will show strangely dressed and possibly disfigured futuristic humanoids all clobbering each other for one peanut, just like the first ten minutes of Planet of the Apes. Of course we’ll go watch because “wanna-be” critics all over the internet will urge us to because it is the “most existential (they themselves not actually knowing the meaning of the word) human story every told” instead of what it really is, which is STUPID, STUPID and more STOOOPID. You know, like the movie Idiocracy.

I think there could be an upside to this recession, taking a leaf out Mr Schmuck’s script. I think it just might be the cure for all the weight obsessions plaguing our society. No money means no food, no food means weight loss. You know what this means? By the heat of summer we will all have slamming bods like that Lima chick, which makes everyone happy!


  • Michelle Atagana is a PhD student attempting a social experiment on better yet economical filmmaking using the Nigerian filmmaking industry as the subject. She hopes to document her findings in a documentary, she is at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, editor of Nux student newspaper for two-and-a-half years and news editor for Nux for a year-and-a-half. She has a keen interest in new media and wishes to pursue a career in online journalism or documentary filmmaking which ever comes first. She has a tendency to get over obsessive about the media and is unforgiving toward bad filmmaking. She has a fair amount of opinions though none of them really mean much because she's just spewing words that unfortunately find their way into her mind. She's currently writing what she hopes will be a bestseller so she can buy an Island and hide from all the people that found the other end of her investigative pen. She tweets like her life depended on it and blogs with moderate regularity and is excited for the day she is legally allowed to stalk Channing Tatum.