Orientalism

October 1, 2009

In reading Said’s article on Orientalism, he talks mainly about how Western culture has turned its back onto the Eastern world and has in some ways begun to look down upon it. He says that its writers ignore the cultural, philosophical, and religious beauties of the Orient world and instead┬ámisinform Westerners about Orients. Towards the end of his article he says that ” one aspect of the electronic, postmodern world is that there has been a reinforcement of the stereotypes by which the Orient is viewed.” Whether it be in television, news articles, movies or fiction, you can easily find examples of this in many forms of American, or Western, media.

I feel however that the main example of most of the racial stereotypes comes from Disney movies. You would never expect it but if you were to watch many movies that we watched as kids and were highly entertained by. There are many different major racial stereotypes in many of the movies. At such a young age, kids become aware of stereotypes. When they see these stereotypes reinforced in some of their favorite movies, that will stick with them for a life time. In regarsds to Orients, Asian characters are portrayed in an immensely stereotypical way. For instance in the movie Lady and the Tramp, the Siamese Cats are portrayed as deceptive characters, we well as being portrayed with a heavy Chinese accent, awkward teeth, and the ever so popular slanted eyes. As well as in my favorite Disney movie Aladdin, Arabs are also portrayed in a negative manner. Good characters such as Aladdin and Jasmine are drawn as very clean cut, more Americanized characters but an evil character such as Jafar is drawn with very uneven, Arabic features.

As I said before, and as Said mentioned in his article “television, and all the media’s resources have forced information into more and more standardized molds.” It even starts with the children of today. When Disney movies portray Asian and Arabic characters in such ways, what types of images do you think they will associate with Asian Americans and Arab Americans. When they have a Susie Lee or a Jared Mohammed in their class, will they envision the Siamese Cats and Jafar? When the media creates and reinforces these stereotypes, it only leads to the type of racial stereotyping that leads to hate amongst races.

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October 1, 2009

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