Orientalism in Disney

Disney has very little diversity when it comes to its movies and tv shows. On the rare occasion where Disney produces a film with Asian or Middle Eastern characters or themes, they manage to represent them in a way that is stereotypical and offensive. Some prime examples are Aladdin and Mulan.

The original story of Aladdin is from a collection of Middle Eastern folk tales called A Thousand and One Nights. The stories began in India then traveled all through Persia and Asia Minor then were finally were written in Cairo. This authentic folk tale turned into a mockery of people from the Middle East when it was turned into a cartoon film. The writers of the movie were white and the characters were voiced by white voice actors as well. They made several stereotypical tropes for the film that included the wealthy, incompetent sheikh (the Sultan); the dark-skinned, perverted villain (Jafar); barbaric commoners; and the hypersexualized and subordinated women of the East (Jasmine). These were all things written and produced by caucasian males which were then given to many other “Caucasians as an authentic” view of the Middle East. These messages are extremely destructive and harmful to promote to viewers who may not have any idea what people from those countries and cultures are like. There were many ways it could’ve been done better because there are ways to appreciate a culture that doesn’t end up appropriating in.

The Reversal of Gender Roles

The main characters of Shakespeare’s King Lear are women. Usually, especially in Shakespeare’s works of literature, the antagonists and protagonists are male. The OED defines gender roles as “the role or behavior learned by a person as appropriate to their gender, determined by the prevailing cultural norms” (OED). This play takes a step back from those stereotypes and promotes women to the lead roles where they should’ve always been. Regan, Goneril, and Cordelia have very different roles in the play, where Regan and Goneril are villains while Cordelia is a hero kind of character, but they are all important to the theme nonetheless. Shakespeare illustrates women as being incapable of having power otherwise they will get sidetracked and their judgment will be corrupted by things that are considered to be “drama.” This chaos brings about their downfall and in this play specifically, Shakespeare makes the dispute about a man. Even with these offensive pieces of the story, Goneril and Regan still gain the power they were after.

Goneril is more or less the evilest of the sisters and will do anything to gain the power she is after. This includes poisoning her own sister and betraying her father. Goneril takes on this important role that men usually play. When a woman plays a part like this she is seen as sneaky and dramatic but when a man plays the part of a villain they are seen as misunderstood and determined. Goneril uses this ancient way of thinking and turns it around. She too can be the role of a villain and be viewed as an important part of the play. While she is still not a good person she is just as important as other villains, such as Edmund. Shakespeare tried to make a stereotypical story of women in power and their downfall but instead accidentally reversed the gender roles that have plagued literature for as long as anyone can remember.

Does Music Equal Poetry?

In the song “betty” by Taylor Swift from her album folklore, it is very evident that there are strong poetic pieces that allow the listener to understand the true feeling of the song. The song is from a boy’s point of view and is explaining the aftermath of what seems to have been an argument, or something more, with a girl he has feelings for. Throughout the song, the thing he did never becomes clarified but it was enough for the girl to cut ties from him, yet the boy still has strong feelings for her. He tries time and time again to fix what he ruined but is it too late and apologizing isn’t enough.

“You heard the rumors from Inez

You can’t believe a word she says

Most times, but this time it was true”

This line covneys the experience from where the whole issue started and is contradictory. The boy is saying to not listen to “Inez” because she lies but this one time she was telling the truth. The boy wants the girl he liked to to believe him and not the “rumors” going around even though they are true. The line also shows that he is trying to convince himself that he didn’t do the bad thing that made the girl leave him, but deep he knows it’s what he deserved and there’s nothing he can do about it.

“But if I just showed up at your party

Would you have me? Would you want me?”

This line foreshadows a choice that is overtaking the narrator and he is fighting with whether he should do it or not in his head. Throughout the song he goes back and forth with himself and tries to decide if it is worth the risk.

In the end the the boy realizes the love he has for this girl over and over again. Throughout the entire song he repeats how much he misses her and how he is only seventeen which means he has flawed thinking, which is why he cannot fix his relationship with this girl and will have to live on wondering what they could’ve had if he didn’t do what he did to her.

The Importance of Platonic Love

In Exit West, we see the change in Nadia and Saeed’s relationship. It goes from friendship to romantic and back to friend ship towards the end of the book. No matter how their relationship was going they always stayed together and protected one another. Saeed and Nadia both thought that they were each other’s soulmates and that they were meant to be together, so much so that they thought they would get married. But as they started to grow as individuals they grew apart from each other, realizing that they were more different than they thought they were. Saeed desperately wanted a romantic relationship with Nadia, while she felt more or less neutral about. As their situation worsened and they traveled from place to place, they met new people as well as experienced lots of new things. This opened their eyes and hearts up to the idea that maybe they were not meant to be in a romantic way but in a different more platonic way. This wasn’t a good or bad thing but it was hard to deal with. They felt like they had promised each other that they would stay together no matter what, but when they started to feel safe and grow it became too much work to uphold. They reminded each other of their places of birth, the things they had lost, and the things that they missed. In the end they were always with each other in spirit, which was strong enough to sustain them, and they were able to never leave off on bad terms because they mutually agreed on going their own ways.

Does Meursault Believe in Passion?

Meursault shows his indifference towards any sort of relationship he has in his life that goes beyond acquaintances. He seems to not care about anyone in life other than himself, which he rarely cares about. This makes him look like a monster to the reader. This view of Meursault isn’t far from the truth. The end of the book shows that he chose to not take the advice of his lawyer. Meursault does not show any kind of remorse or seem apologetic at all therefore he is a monster. He does not deserve anyone’s pity or sympathy. Not only does he show his carelessness when it comes to his own life but also to his own mother and girlfriend. He views them only as shallow memories and “misses” them based on the things that they would do for him if they were still with him. This is ultimately why he faces the indifference of the world itself when he is punished for the killing of the Arab.

What Does Life Mean to Meursault?

Meursault manages to go through his life without a care in the world, but not in a free spirited way. He doesn’t seem to feel any importance for anything or anyone. The simplest things he should immense emotions for don’t seem to phase him. Something as heart wrenching as losing a beloved parent only made him feel tired and annoyed with the people around him. Not once did Meursault show any kind of grief or even a small hint of sadness in losing his mother. The only thing Meursault seemed to care about was how good his coffee tasted as well as things such as the sun and lights bothering him. His mother was dead right in front of him and all he had to say was, “I like milk in my coffee” (8). He couldn’t even show empathy to his mother’s closest friend who came to her burial and fainted from exhaustion.

Secondly, something that was so blatantly wrong, such as abusing living things didn’t seem to affect Meursault one bit. The senseless beating of a dog and the way his friend bragged about beating his ex were like comments about the weather to Meursault. At least it appeared that way from his reaction. Not only did he completely ignore the savage beating of his neighbor’s innocent dog, but he greeted him with a good morning as he was doing it and kept on walking. His friend also mentioned how aggressive with his ex and the abuse that he was responsible for as well as intimate details of their relationship, to which all Meursault had to say was that he agreed. “He’d beaten her til she bled” (31), Meursault thought and he never gave his input, he just listened. The way Meursault almost subconsciously ignores all the important conversations and events that happen in his life, tells a lot about him. We don’t know much about his past but we know enough that his future is going to start getting rough if he doesn’t face things as they come.