A Take On Orientalism

Before watching and reading about orientalism, I had no idea what it was. When watching movies and reading books, I had never once thought about the true accuracy of what I was taking in and the perspective in which it was written or observed. Looking back, I can see examples of orientalism in not only many pieces of literature, but even in my own view of things. Growing up, Im sure a lot of kids watched movies like Aladdin, Mulan, and even Doctor Strange. All three pieces portrayed the middle east and eastern cultures in a way that is not accurate. In these movies and other films and literature, these cultures and their people are portrayed as mysterious, magical, tropical, and many other words that make the cultures seem like some kind of show we are only a small part of or meant to view from a distance, for our entertainment. These places, the people, and their cultures are viewed as otherworldly and totally separate from us. The middle east and eastern cultures have been grouped into one bubble of mystery, fantasy, magic, and separate from us. The many cultures, religions, and practices are usually not distinctly grouped to one country or culture and there are blurry lines separating the practices/religions that belong to certain people and cultures. Movies follow a cliche view of the middle-east/eastern areas that causes many parts of those countries and their cultures to be overlooked and misunderstood. As I started to understand how much orientalism has even taken over my own views, I have realized how easy it is to be blinded by what is true and real due to what you are told and what you watch and read. It is so easy to fall into a certain type of thinking and it is so easy to look at other places through one lens instead of taking the opportunity to explore and research the world and the many cultures and people who inhabit it.

4 thoughts on “A Take On Orientalism

  1. HARRISON D

    I agree. I think it is a very important thing to broaden our horizons and make sure we are learning from sources that arent just ones that align with our preconceived notions. Hopefully if i become a history teacher one day I can help students and myself become better at that when we study history.

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  2. LAUREN F.

    It saddens me to know that people would simply fall back on assumptions that the general population of viewers deemed as fact because they are too lazy to actually put in the work to understand another person’s culture. It saddens me to know the Disney partook in this exact concept.

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  3. GRACE F

    I also had never heard of Orientalism and I’m surprised to see how we all feed into the idea without even knowing it! I don’t know that much about people from the East, but I do believe that Western portrayal has only added to my confusion and misconceptions of the orient. I think it’s sad because I do understand that there are stereotypes of people from the East, but I didn’t know how widespread and embedded into our culture they were.

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  4. HAYDN M

    I like this take on Orientalism because it is very introspective and aware that we have not been shown an accurate depiction of east and southern Asia. We have to consider what it would be like if another country was making movies and TV shows about us that depicted Americans as caricatures for their amusement. It would be insulting and disrespectful.

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