Adokiye in a promo shoot. Photo: daXclusive/adokiye.com
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Nigerian popstar Adokiye offers Boko Haram her virginity for kidnapped schoolgirls' release

A rising star in Nigeria, frustrated at the fading news coverage of Boko Haram's abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls, has offered up her virginity.

Nigerian popstar and architect Adokiye startled fans this week when, according to Vanguard, she claimed to be willing to exchange her own virginity for the release of over 200 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram. The same group is also suspected of carrying out a further spate of abductions of at least 60 more women this week, two months after the first kidnapping brought international condemnation for the extremist group.

"I am older and more experienced," she told the paper. "Even if ten to 12 men have to take me every night, I don’t care. Just release these girls and let them go back to their parents.”

While many have taken to Twitter to praise her bravery, or implore her to withdraw the self-sacrificial offer, others have criticised it as an attention-seeking media stunt - and, inevitably, some have used the opportunity to question the truth of whether she was really still a virgin:

Adokiye may well be a rising celebrity in Nigeria, but she is also a UN ambassador for peace with her own charity - called #ADOCHANGE - which works with international NGOs on health and education projects. Speaking to the NS via email, Adokiye said: “[It is] for the less privileged children, the motherless babies. Kids who can't speak for themselves. Its mission is to stand for them and to make them live right.”

However, her claim that she would swap her virginity for the safety of the schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram appeared both drastic and insincere for a good reason - in March, she made the same offer to anyone who would buy her mother a private jet. When asked about this, she claims it was a "joke", that she "only used it as a figure of speech to show how much I loved my mum and would give up anything for her".

"My offer to Boko Haram isn’t a joke,” she writes, and she confirmed that she stands by her words:

With the help of my government, I will go to the forest and plead for the release of those girls. If Boko Haram were to contact me that would be scary and great but they should only do so if they are ready to release the kidnapped girls and take up my offer.”

Whether act of extreme empathy or publicity stunt, it highlights the sensitive issues that cloud the social status of female virginity. When asked if she thought her offer confirmed virginity as an exchangeable commodity, Adokiye responded:

As long as I am not offering it up for financial gains then it’s no problem. The virginity would have to go sometime, so if I can use it to save those kidnapped girls that would be great.”

Despite the flurry of news interest in the initial kidnappings in March - including a social media hashtag campaign that even Michelle Obama got involved with - Adokiye has been left frustrated and appalled by the way the news cycle has moved on. “The sudden silence of the media hype to get those girls freed is really scary and frustrating," she writes. "If the exchange of my virginity for the freedom of the girls turns out a success, then I do not see any problems at all." Since making her offer she has been tweeting at her critics, demanding they suggest something better if they're so appalled by her proposal.

Regardless, Boko Haram continue to terrorise the Nigerian state of Borno, whose inhabitants live in fear of further abductions. According to the UN, Boko Haram has forced approximately 650,000 people to flee from their homes.

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Will playing a farting corpse allow Daniel Radcliffe to finally shake off his Hogwarts associations?

Radcliffe is dead good in Swiss Army Man – meaning he is both good, and dead. Plus: Deepwater Horizon.

Actors who try to shake off a clean-cut ­image risk looking gimmicky or insincere – think of Julie Andrews going topless in SOB, or Christopher Reeve kissing Michael Caine in Deathtrap. Daniel Radcliffe has tried to put serious distance between himself and Hogwarts in his choice of adult roles, which have included Allen Ginsberg (in Kill Your Darlings) and an FBI agent going undercover as a white supremacist (Imperium), but it is with the macabre new comedy Swiss Army Man that he stands the best chance of success. He’s good in the film. Dead good. He has to be: he’s playing a flatulent corpse in a moderate state of putrefaction. If ever there was a film that you were glad wasn’t made in Odorama, this is it.

The body washes up on an island at the very moment a shipwrecked young man, Hank (Paul Dano), is attempting to hang himself. He scampers over to the corpse, which he nicknames Manny, and realises he could use its abundant gases to propel himself across the ocean. Once they reach another shore and hide out in the woods, Hank discovers all sorts of uses for his new friend. Cranked open, the mouth dispenses endless quantities of water. The teeth are sharp enough to shave with. A spear, pushed deep into Manny’s gullet, can be fired by pressing down on his back, thereby turning him into an effective hunting weapon.

On paper, this litany of weirdness reads like a transparent attempt to manufacture a cult film, if that term still has any currency now that every movie can claim to have a devoted online following. The surprising thing about Swiss Army Man is that it contains a robust emotional centre beneath the morbid tomfoolery. It’s really a buddy movie in which one of the buddies happens to have expired. That doesn’t stop Manny being a surprisingly lively companion. He talks back at his new friend (“Shall I just go back to being dead?” he huffs during an argument), though any bodily movements are controlled by Hank, using a pulley system that transforms Manny into a marionette.

The gist of the film is not hard to grasp. Only by teaching Manny all the things he has forgotten about life and love can the depressed Hank reconnect with his own hope and humanity. This tutelage is glorious: improbably ambitious DIY models, costumes and sets (including a bus constructed from branches and bracken) are put to use in play-acting scenes that recall Michel Gondry at his most inspired. If only the screenplay – by the directors, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert – didn’t hammer home its meanings laboriously. Manny’s unembarrassed farting becomes a metaphor for all the flaws and failings we need to accept about one another: “Maybe we’re all just ugly and it takes just one person to be OK with that.” And maybe screenwriters could stop spelling out what audiences can understand perfectly well on their own.

What keeps the film focused is the tenderness of the acting. Dano is a daredevil prone to vanishing inside his own eccentricity, while Radcliffe has so few distinguishing features as an actor that he sometimes seems not to be there at all. In Swiss Army Man they meet halfway. Dano is gentler than ever, Radcliffe agreeably deranged. Like all good relationships, it’s a compromise. They make a lovely couple.

What to say about Deepwater Horizon? It’s no disaster as a disaster movie. Focusing on the hows and whys of the most catastrophic accident in US oil drilling history, when an explosion consumed an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, it doesn’t stint on blaming BP. Yet it sticks so faithfully to the conventions of the genre – earthy blue-collar hero (Mark Wahlberg), worried wife fretting at home (Kate Hudson), negligent company man (John Malkovich) – that familiarity overrides suspense and outrage.

The effects are boringly spectacular, which is perhaps why the most chilling moment is a tiny detail: a crazed seagull, wings drenched in oil, flapping madly on the deck long before the fires start. As a harbinger of doom, it’s only mildly more disturbing than Malkovich’s strangulated accent. 

Ryan Gilbey is the New Statesman's film critic. He is also the author of It Don't Worry Me (Faber), about 1970s US cinema, and a study of Groundhog Day in the "Modern Classics" series (BFI Publishing). He was named reviewer of the year in the 2007 Press Gazette awards.

This article first appeared in the 29 September 2016 issue of the New Statesman, May’s new Tories