Hilarious Orientalism in Rotana Movies

Is 'Hamza's Suitcase' available to watch on Canadian Netflix ...

The Rotana Group is the Arab world’s largest entertainment company, and recently it released many of its goofiest movies into the international section of Netflix, making a presence in the Western world. The movies are unfortunately almost all in Arabic, which creates some issues for an American audience but as a Syrian-American, I can say that these movies have Orientalism at their very core.

Many aspects of Middle-Eastern culture and Arabic stereotypes are taken and exaggerated and distorted greatly. From views on women and homosexuality to camels to hookahs to terrorism to Arabian trap music; these movies paint a picture of the Arabic world that could not be farther from reality. The movies are a lot of fun to watch but the humor used is extremely shallow and can offer no new insight about the world (other than misleading Westerners that their stereotypes and presets about the Eastern world are true).

One thought on “Hilarious Orientalism in Rotana Movies

  1. I was just commenting that the Chinese and Japanese filmmakers that Quentin Tarantino embraces as a fan and a filmmakers are the sources of many of the stereotypes in his films (see Seth’s post on Kill Bill).

    But I do think it’s important to note the difference between native non-Western filmmakers employing stereotypes and Western filmmakers adopting them. The Rotana films were created for an Arab audience, right? They probably weren’t think they’d be on Netflix — or at least be a hit with Western audiences. So their employment of stereotypes, which not necessarily excusing it, probably does a lot less damage when their Arab audience can just look around at their family, their neighborhood, and their broader community and see clearly that the people they know don’t fit the stereotypes. A Western audience would have no such real-world context to see through those stereotypes.


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