Orientalism is a misunderstood problem that has led to a false representation of Asai and Africa and the cultures surrounding them. The group of people misrepresented the most by orientalism are people from the middle east area. People from Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen all have to live with stereotypes placed on their heads through orientalism. In a large majority of films and books, the story’s antagonist comes from some Islam militia terrorist group located in the middle east. This has spread to Africa as well through groups like Boko Haram. Think back to any movie you have ever watched, or any book you have ever read, and try to think of an example where the bad guys or the people portrayed as evil in the story are not Muslim or African. It’s difficult, isn’t it? and near impossible when discussing films from a long time ago. These constant stereotypes have led Muslim people, the Islamic culture, African people, and African groups and cultures to be seen as over-aggressive and dangerous.
A good example of orientalism can be found in the film Alladin. When a middle eastern woman was asked how she felt Alladin represented her culture, she said she throuroughly enjoyed the original film from 1992, but when it came to the remastered disney version, she had the following to say, “Is it messed up that I’m happy Disney has traded explicit racism for cliched exoticism? Is that really the bar they had to clear for me to be happy” she was clearly unhappy with of inacurate disneys representation of her culture was. She went into further discussion of the movie and how Disney failed to hire actual Middle-Eastern actors in both movies. That people of different cultural backgrounds are not interchangeable and simply reinforces Orientalist ideas and erases culture and history. Agrabah, which is the name of the fictional town for the movie, is based off Middle Eastern, Islamic, and Asian aspects and cultural identities. Within the opening song the lyrics describe the town to be “where they cut off your ear if they don’t like your face, it’s barbaric, but hey, it’s home”, essentially describing the people of these cultural backgrounds to be barbaric and uncivil. Another point to be made was that the main characters, Aladdin and Jasmin, are both wearing clothing from different countries with Aladdin wearing a Turkish Fez and Jasmine with Indian shoes.
Orientalism is all around us, in films, books, story’s, and many other places. It is a problem that has been rooted deep in our society for many years, and is now something hard to get rid off. The false representation of Asai and Africa and the cultures surrounding them has lead to negative connotations surrounding them and giving people the wrong idea of these cultures.