The East’s stolen property and how can we return it?

The East was robbed in their say of how they should be portrayed around the world. Westerners have a tendency to meddle with other cultures by absorbing traditions and customs to try and make them their own. This is harmful within itself, but the extent to which this can be taken is far more dangerous than some think. It is important to portray other cultures correctly and is a step forward that everyone should be making.

Western media has such a big influence on the people who engage in it. From cinema to television, the things that are portrayed on these platforms can fuel the mindsets of its viewers. Our minds tend to absorb the things we view and it’s hard for one to decipher whether something is accurate or blatantly offensive. Western media has done a particularly poor job of portraying Eastern life in many different ways. “Aladin” is commonly brought up when discussing orientalism in film. You see a bloodthirsty Arab man and a poverty-stricken setting where we can get a first look at what westerners think of the East. For a company as large as Disney, it’s disappointing to see the Easterners being robbed of their true story all for the benefit of the western people. This is especially dangerous due to the movie’s preferred age group being children, a group that is so easily influenced by media.

Edward Said’s ideas expand on concepts far deeper than “Aladin”. The way he would see a movie like “Aladin” is that people are choosing what they want to see. Meaning, we love the beauty and elegancy of Eastern culture but chose to also depict them as violent and poor. You cant do that. If you are going to take the true beauty of a culture, then you can’t turn around and decide to depict them as something else all based on how it appeals to you. We see in Cardi B’s music video for “Bodak Yellow” her riding a camel in the middle of a desert, wearing a hijab. This is her idea of what she thinks is beautiful and although it is, it is unfair for westerners to pick and choose when they want to respect Eastern traditions and cultures.

Returning one’s culture isn’t nesasarilly something that is done overnight. Going back to “Aladin”, if your going to depict a beautiful princess and castle of a certain culture, their counterpart should be equally presented with the same respect and truth. And if that is defective to the plot then questioning the story as a whole should be considered.

2 thoughts on “The East’s stolen property and how can we return it?

  1. LAUREN F.

    I believe cultures should always be depicted correctly because, especially with Disney, what people see depicted by a large, reputable company is immediately going to be seen as fact. If the depiction is not factual, then stereotypes and assumptions are created.


  2. Olivia M

    I think what you said about how western media has such a big influence is really important. It reaches people all over the world and can completely change the narrative on anything it chooses to depict. I also think the fact that these orientalist perspectives are seen in movies like Alladin aimed at children is a particularly important point that you brought up. These movies embedded with these stereotypes and watched by impressional children teach their generation the same orientalist and othering views of eastern cultures.


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