The Orientalist Book of Boba Fett

Disney Plus released the first episode of its new series, The Book of Boba Fett, on December 29, 2021. In the series, the crime lord and previous bounty hunter Boba Fett take over the desert land of Tatooine and try to make a name for themselves as its new rulers. The planet of Tatooine denotes a representation of the Middle East as seen in western culture. The desert planet has cities and towns of crime, ruled by crime lords and dictators, and much of the planet is populated by the poor and lower-class laborers. The entire series plays on the stereotypes of orientalism and Middle Eastern culture. 

In his book, Orientalism, Said noted that Orientals were viewed as impossible to trust and strange by definition. One of the native species of Tatooine is the Jawas, who are strange, hooded beings that steal and raid scrap and junk from villages. These characters are developed around the theme of Orientalism and the idea of desert-men as being despicable and less human. They speak a language that the viewers of the show cannot understand, pushing the idea that they lack intelligence and human resemblance. 

In The Book of Boba Fett, the previous ruler Jabba the Hutt would be moved by servants as they carried him. In the second episode of the series, Boba Fett is offered to be transported just as his predecessor had. Boba Fett outwardly rejects this idea, criticizing it as being disrespectful and ostentatious. This scene relates to the theme of Orientalism in the show as it portrays the native ruler, Jabba the Hutt, to be cruel whereas the English-speaking new ruler, Boba Fett, is more merciful and liked. 

Orientalism in Aladdin

Aladdin, a Disney princess movie directed to an audience of children, depicts the Middle East as a foreign land that is mysterious and dangerous. It is supposed to be seen as vastly different than the western culture. The film purposely exaggerates the differences between cultures to provide entertainment- despite the fact that it exaggerates stereotypes and minimizes the culture to one small example.

The opening scene has racist lyrics, “Where they cut off your ear/ If they don’t like your face/ It’s barbaric but hey, it’s home.”

This movie and these lyrics promote stereotypes of Arab individuals. This leads to the feelings of no accurate representation in media that Edward Saed had felt. These depictions, which many Middle Eastern individuals may not relate to, can alienate viewers. Saed felt that the Arabs portrayed in media never looked like his family or any Arabs he knew. Many viewers, especially children, may feel shame from the negative connotations associated with these inaccurate depictions and may internalize these messages.

In addition to the stereotypes in the movie’s culture, Aladdin generalizes the scenery and fictional city of Agrabah. The city becomes a single identity of Arab culture when in reality there are many different cities in the Middle East that vary greatly. This one depiction creates a single image for viewers to associate with the Middle East contributing to westerners’ shallow understanding of the Middle East.

Lastly, most of the Aladdin characters have exaggerated facial features while Aladdin and Jasmine have more white features. This enforces the subtle mindset that eurocentric features are most desirable and worthy.

Aladdin as a whole exemplifies the stereotyping of Middle Easterners in western films. It displays a narrow view of the Eastern world produced by the West as entertainment.