Analysis of Religion and Pop Culture through Orientalism

Document Type:Essay

Subject Area:Cultural Studies

Document 1

Various studies have been done on Orientalism with the most significant one carried out by Edward Wadie Said, an American-Palestine. Most critics accept that his work is one of the most influential in the cultural field. Edward admits his unique position of having a clear bi-cultural perspective on the Orient was a considerable influence in his work. His book, "Orientalism" published in 1978 provides extensive criticism of the cultural representations that are a foundation of Orientalism. The book is considered controversial as it attacks not only the traditional studies conducted on the field but also the entire way the West portrays the East. All these images and many more are littered throughout in the film with no one batting an eyelid comfortable in the disillusioned fact that all of Arabia is like that.

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Hollywood is one of the biggest villains that advocate Orientalism and thus condemning all of Arabia. In his book, Edward Said postulates that the study of the West on Islamic civilization is an exercise in political intellectualism (Lynch. The Orientalist claims to know more about the Orient than the Orientals themselves creating an image of European dominance and show Western superiority. In the film the locals are supposed to be Egyptians but ironically they speak a Moroccan dialect of Arab. Most images of the women are usually of scantily dressed ladies performing belly dances. Moreover, the women have been portrayed as having only one need in the society, and that is to please men's sexual desires and fantasies. The presence of harems in almost every film and artistic display further enforces this (Storey.

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If the women are not portrayed as this, then they are represented in the extreme contrast. They are characterized as covered from head to toe in black robes and veils and only the eyes are visible. All these portrayals are wide off the mark and do not reflect the actual position of Arabs to the world. The whole of Arabia is not entirely Muslim as evidenced by the existence of over 20 million Christians who are of Arab origin living side by side in harmony for many centuries. Furthermore, Arabs are inherently peaceful, and all these violence erupted as a result of Western interference in the guise of liberation which in reality is modern colonialism. Also, the Arab woman is one of the most successful and educated women in the world.

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In Algeria, an Arabic nation, women make up 70 percent of the entire country’s lawyers and judges. Said is a leading scholar in the opinions of cultural representations of the East with his work, "Orientalism. " The book courted controversy on its attack on the traditional scholars and the way the West portrays the East. An intersection of religion and pop culture through Orientalism is seen through the depiction of Arabs by Hollywood (Klassen. A good example is in the film, “The Mummy” which is riddled with stereotypes from scantily dressed women to implications of barbarism. These views led to the development of Islamophobia, illusions that Arabic women are merely sex objects and the idea that Arabs have low intelligence and are inherently stupid.

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