Orientalism in American Media

America as a nation tends to believe that we are the best and the heroes of the story. Can you remember the last time you watched a movie where it was a non-American person fighting an American villain? Because I can not. In American media such as movies and even history books the Americans are always depicted as the good guys, or that the world revolves around them. This concept is better known as Orientalism. Orientalism refers to how the West tends to depict Eastern civilizations as barbaric and primitive, and then the West as civilized and advanced.

Orientalism is very prevalent in American movies. The genre of old western movies is plagued by Orientalism especially. In these movies, white people are portrayed as the heroes, while the savage Native Americans terrorize them. In reality Native Americans are actually very civilized, friendly people with a lot of culture. What adds to the misrepresentation of the native Americans is that during this period of time the native Americans were actually very peaceful people, they simply were just trying to keep the land they had been living on for years upon years before the white people came.

Furthermore, Orientalism is very prevalent in history books. In my experience with history classes, world history is portrayed as revolving around America. The books we are taught completely ignore the history of nations outside of America. In reality America does not have a big place in world history, it is a nation that has only been around for a couple hundred years, while other nations have been around for thousands with a lot more history to them which is all pushed to the side for the sake of American history.

Blindness in King Lear

Goneril in many ways resembles her father throughout the play. Parents often give their children their traits through generations and this is evident between Goneril and her father lear in “King Lear”. Goneril is the eldest and debatably the evilest of Lear’s daughters, as she declares her great love for Lear in exchange for a portion of her father’s kingdom. Throughout the play, Lear and Goneril are seen alike by means of the motif of blindness that links them together as a father and daughter. Primarily, Goneril is not literally blind and so does Lear, yet they are blinded by their actions and personalities.

“Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter;

Dearer than eye-sight, space, and liberty;

Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare;

No less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honor;

As much as child e’er loved, or father found;

A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable;

Beyond all manner of so much, I love you. (I.I.55-61) (Goneril)” 

The motif in this example and in Goneril’s example is literal than figurative. Goneril is expressing her false love for lear.  Lear has asked his daughters to tell him how much they love him; whoever loves him most will receive the most share of the kingdom.  Goneril’s exaggerated speech is false and unnatural.  She compares her love for her father to eye-sight, something that should not have a value set in place.  

This same exchange of love is where we see Lear’s act of blindness. 

“Winter’s not gone yet, if the wild-geese fly that way.

Fathers that wear rags

Do make their children blind;

But fathers that bear bags

Shall see their children kind.

Fortune, that arrant whore,

Ne’er turns the key to the poor.

But, for all this, thou shalt have as many dolours

for thy daughters as thou canst tell in a year. (II.IV.52-60)(Fool)”

Now that Lear has given up the kingdom, Goneril and Regan do not care about him anymore.  Before, when he had the kingdom, they told him lies about how they loved him.  Since he has nothing, they do not care for him nor see him. He was blind to the fact that they tricked him into giving away the kingdom. 

“I remember thine eyes well enough. Dost thou squiny

at me? No, do thy worst, blind Cupid! I’ll not

love. Read thou this challenge; mark but the

penning of it. (IV.VI.152-155) (Lear)”

Lear trusted his daughters with the kingdom and they betrayed him.  Lear refers to Cupid as being blind, for falling in love with his unloyal daughters in the first place.    

Happy

The song “Happy” by Pharell is almost too easy of a choice when it comes to songs that are like poetry. Pharell Williams put together a masterpiece with his song. In this feel-good radio hit anthem, Pharell cheers his listeners to embrace happiness in all ways shape and form when faced with problems. The music video for “Happy” was nominated for Best Male Video and Video of the Year at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards. It also won the Grammy Award for Best Music Video at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards. Alongside its musical perfection, it also is very poetic in the way it is able to sneak in many poetic devices in its lyrics.  The first example of this is:

Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof

(Because I’m happy)

Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth

Pharell

Pharell starts off hot with an uplifting simile. There is a simile in ‘clap along if you feel like a room without a roof’. The person is compared to a room without a roof. In the song, you can feel Pharrell’s energy when he is asking if you are very happy. Pharell uses the simile to make something boring like clapping sounds uplifting and joyful. Along with the simile it also uses rhyme with the words roof and truth giving it that song vibe. It just makes you wanna get up, dance and clap. 

Throughout the song Pharell is also able to use Personification, attaching human qualities to nonhuman things, excellently. One example being:

Here come bad news, talking this and that (Yeah!)

Pharell

In this line, Pharell is able to articulate that there is a lot of bad news going around. He used personification to make it seem like the bad news was actually saying something as if it were a real person. The use of personification in the song adds more depth and makes the song more interesting, just like how poems are deeper than just the words on the page.

Finally, the last highlighted poetic device is how he is able to implicate extended metaphors throughout his hit song.

I’m a hot air balloon that could go to space

With the air, like I don’t care, baby, by the way

These lyrics use a metaphor because it’s comparing two unlike things, a person and a hot air balloon, without using connecting words. As Pharell isn’t really in a hot air balloon the metaphor just shows that he is really Happy. As the overall theme of the song is about joy and happiness a lot of the lyrics, in connection with the one above, are extended phrases or metaphors for happiness itself. In the whole song the repetition of ‘because I’m happy’ is quite clear to stress on the word and metaphor for happiness.

Pharell

To add to all of that, what isn’t more poetic about a song written and released as the first and only single for the soundtrack of the film Despicable Me 2 (2013).

Human’s Desire to Always Try and Find Something Better

As people we always want something better, we are never truly satisfied. When someone gets a brand new car they eventually get tired of it and want a better more expensive car. Or when someone gets a lap top, when a newer version comes out they automatically want that one more because it is presumed to be better. This is evident in Exit West in two ways. First off, Saeed and Nadia are never truly satisfied in any of their new homes. Secondly human’s desire to always find something better is shown in Saeed and Nadia’s relationship itself.

Saeed and Nadia do a lot of moving around in the book. Just as you think they might have actually found a place to permanently settle they get up and leave. They might enjoy their destination initially but eventually they get tired of it and want something better even when where they are at is already a good place to stay. One good example of this is when Nadia suggested,”Out of the blue….That they abandon this place and give up their position on the housing list, and all they had built here, and pass through a nearby door she had heard of, to the new city of Marin”(188). Even when they are making good progress to being able to live in an actual home and everything, they still give it up. They want something better and they believe that there is a better place out there for them and that their current location in London is not good enough.

This theme is present in Saeed and Nadia’s relationship as well. They have a great time at first with each other, but as time goes on and they are less dependent on each other and bored, they go out and meat new people in hopes of finding someone better. They hope to find someone who can once again give them the feeling of how they felt when Saeed and Nadia first got together, which for Saeed is the priest’s daughter and Nadia a chef.

Does Meursalt’s Emotionless mindset benefit his life?

Throughout the story “The Stranger Meursalt shows a severe lack of emotion and connection with society. We all deem it as a negative thing throughout the story, but is it really a bad thing?

The story wastes no time in showing Meursalt’s lack of emotion by starting off the story on the very first page with Meursalt receiving a telegram that his mother has passed away. Meursalt’s reaction to that telegram is that,”That doesn’t mean anything.” Any ordinary person with a heart would feel shocked and sad to his reaction, yet it might not actually be a mad thing. An ordinary person with emotion would receive this telegram and would probably go into a state of depression or something close to it that can severely negatively impact someone’s life. With Meursalt’s lack of emotion he is able to carry on life as normal and even goes out with a woman the next day.

While having no sense of emotion can take away a lot of the fruits of life, it certainly saves one from the deep valleys of life.

Emotionless man

In the first part of “The Stranger” we are introced to the protagonist Meursault. Meursalt is an interesting character in the sense that he seems to have no emotion towards anything.

The first instance where this is apparent is when his mom dies. Meursault seems completely unphased after his own mother’s death saying that “It does not mean anything” after recieving a telegram that his mother had passed. Even while visiting his mom’s casket he is just eager to get it over with and carry on with his weekend.

Another example of Meursault’s emotionless attitude is when the woman he has “feelings” for asks to marry him. Meursault responds with, “It did not make any difference to me and that we could if she wanted to” further illimuniating his lack of emotions are care for anything.