Modern Day Non-Orientalism

Orientalism refers to the Western imitation or depiction of certain characteristics and aspects of Middle Easten and Asian cultures. The publication of Edward Said’s book “Orientalism” brought widespread awareness to the term; which he recognizes as the West’s prejudiced interpretation of the East. In, “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom” the main character, Ugyen travels to a small village called Lunana. However in the movie, the people that live in the village like the class leader Pem Zam, actually live in Lunana. There were no certain stereotypes or different depictions of the outside world or specifically Lunana.

Ugyen found such comfort with the people and the village itself that there was no need for him to linger and hold on tight to his past self (i.e. his iPod). He truly ended up caring for everyone in Lunana and it shows when he moves to Australia and sings the yak herder song perfectly. The creators of this movie were able to steer away from the stereotypes and I wish more movies did the same.

Orientalism in Indiana Jones

Indiana Jones is an iconic movie series with the premise of a professor with a duty to find and preserve ancient relics found all over the world. Most of the relics are found around the middle east, and some are in India as well. This is not about the relics, however, rather its about the surrounding environment and how the locals of the countries that Jones visits are portrayed. There is in fact a high contrast within the movies; from the “civilized” western universities to the “Exotic” middle eastern palaces, which is also the case for the people that Jones encounters.

In the movies, there are two things that stand out about the locals that Jones meets.: Their stereotyped personality and the poor choice of cuisine that the directors choose to represent them. In “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”, almost every single non-British person that Jones encounters always seems to be senseless in their actions, whether it be a crippling addiction towards acquiring wealth/power, or extremely predatory behavior towards Jones’ lover. It seems that the producers almost had this as the main instructions for the actors, because it became noticeable how repetitive this behavior was. As for the food, you can see people eating some of the most gut-wrenching and unappetizing things to ever lay your eyes on. The dinner scene in the same movie featured many snakes and insects, as well as monkey brains, which the server claimed as “traditional Indian cuisine”. These things were done mainly in order to dehumanize the unfamiliar so that Jones would seem like more of a liberator of the relics he acquires.