Hollywood exposure priceless for Samoa, thank you Seiuli Dwayne Johnson!

Any publicity is good publicity, right? When it comes to the exposure of Samoa on the Hollywood blockbuster movie, Hobbs & Shaw, we believe that this country owes Seiuli Dwayne Johnson and his team a vote of thanks.

Apart from the fact that it cost Samoa nothing for the free promotion of its name to millions and millions of movie fans across the globe, the idea that Samoa is being talked about in circles and countries around the world – which would not normally happen – is a lot better than not being talked about at all.

Now don’t get me wrong. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and every Samoan who has seen the movie will have something to say. Good and bad.

We are aware that a lot has been said and much more will continue to be said after this. Which is okay, that’s what freedom of opinion is all about. But perspective is critical we believe and that comes from being truthful with ourselves.

This writer was fortunate enough to watch the first screening of this movie in Melbourne, Australia. The huge cinema was packed by many non-Samoans who were left extremely impressed. As a Samoan, I walked out feeling very proud.

Whether Seiuli’s pronunciation of certain Samoan words were good or whether the Samoa in the movie was Samoan enough, that’s irrelevant.

Folks, we are talking about a movie produced in Hollywood here. Need we say more? The producers never set out to say that this movie was to be the sole authority on the Samoan language or everything Samoan. It was never meant to be a lecture or a documentary about the Samoan culture and families. If in the eyes of some Samoans that the movie looked and sounded plastic, well what did they expect? It’s a Hollywood movie.

Let’s face it; Samoa is a small country with limited resources and little money. Our people are often our biggest resource. This includes Samoans born in Samoa and thousands of others born everywhere else in the world.

Many of those Samoans cannot speak Samoan and they share a very different perspective about Samoa and the fa’asamoa. Does that make them any less Samoan? We don’t think so.

Out there in the world today, Seiuli Dwayne Johnson is arguably the most recognised Samoan there is. He is adored by millions with every thing he posts on his social media accounts followed by millions more. The mere fact that he chose, what is perhaps his biggest film of them all, to direct attention on Samoa is something we should all be proud of.

Who are we to judge his intentions? And so what if he couldn’t pronounce Samoan words properly? Have you heard many of the young people living in Samoa today speak Samoan?

Indeed, we need to bring some proper perspective into these conversations. And we need to show some appreciation about what other people are doing out of pride in themselves, families and countries.

Having the name Samoa exposed to millions on the big screen in Hollywood and elsewhere in the world, where the movie is screened, is not a small feat. Such exposure, especially for a minority culture in a country that is nothing more than just a dot on the world map, usually costs millions of dollars to achieve. Many other countries would love the marketing opportunity.

And here we are today; one proud Samoan in Seiuli Dwayne has done it for no cost at all. From what he knows about himself, his Samoan side and his upbringing, he has shared it with the world through what he does best. And thanks to him, so many other people today now know a little bit about Samoa and what we are about, due to his passion and pride in himself.

What’s more, even people who never knew that there was actually a place called Samoa might now be interested. Folks, believe it or not, there are millions of people in the world who don’t know that there is an actual country called Samoa.

Now how do you place a value on such a gesture? How often do we get this kind of exposure? Which is why Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi was correct to publicly acknowledge Seiuli.

Said Tuilaepa: “We are extremely proud of your achievements and your latest blockbuster movie Hobbs & Shaw. For a few seconds, Seiuli immortalised our country, our people and our Samoan identity on the silver screen.

“And for that Seiuli and all of the Samoan actors and actresses in the movie have more than earned the Government and People of Samoa’s approval and highest commendation.”

We couldn’t agree more. Like Prime Minister Tuilaepa, we take our hat off to Seiuil Dwayne and his team. We want to say a big faafetai.

This of course comes with a request. Since there will be sequel, why not bring the filming of it to Samoa? Imagine one of those scenes featuring Seiuli, Jason Statham and Idris Elba being filmed at the To Sua Trench, Robert Louis Stevenson trail or any of the many breathtakingly beautiful places across Samoa? This can only be good for this country.

By the way, congratulations to Seiuli and his wife Lauren Hashian for tying the knot.

Have a wonderful Wednesday Samoa, God bless!

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