Indiana Jones: The Tones of Orientalism

Orientalism is a common theme that overshadows one’s culture with an imperialistic lens, adopting the culture. Orientalism is present in cinema, food, and pop culture. One specific place I want to focus on the presence of orientalism is Indiana Jones. Indiana Jones is a very popular family movie series that demonstrates the common ideology of orientalism and the westerner’s perspective on other’s cultures.

In the first installment of the series; Indiana Jones: Raiders of the lost arc, while Jones is in Cairo Egypt he encounters a talented swordsman. We see townspeople gather while Jones and the swordsman duel. This short scene is super popular as the fight choreography is incredibly impressive, however, this scene is meant to shock the viewers at how violent the people in Egypt are. This very short scene holds a lot of weight for the perception of Egypt since many of the series’ viewers are kids and this may be their first impression of Egypt.

In the second movie; Temple of Doom, there were many events that were intended to shock viewers or almost disgust them. In one scene they are attending a cultural dinner someplace where Indiana Jones is venturing off too. One element at the feast that was supposed to shock the audience was a mass amount of food. There wasn’t an obscene amount, but the clear intention was to signal that Jones was in a new place with “not normal” customs.

I grew up watching the Indiana Jones series and was surprised to see while looking back at the poor taste and judgment they had while conveying the simple story of finding some treasure. I can see how this orientalism can hurt cultures as they perpetuate untrue stereotypes to others, even at such a young age. The Indiana Jones movies are marketed as family movies, meaning kids are watching these movies and unintentionally forming these biases on these cultures based on untrue tellings of them. I do think that in the future filmmakers can do a better job at this, but for now, it’s very evident that orientalism can be seen in the media almost everywhere.

The Negative Connotation of a Woman in Power

Throughout the unfolding story of King Lear, I could not help but favor Goneril. To me, she displays a confident character who makes choices for herself rather than cater to other men around her. Not only does she challenge her father’s leadership, but also goes against her husband’s wishes, and takes charge of her military.

A Common rebuttal would be that many of Goneril’s actions were to please Edmund, whom she acted romantic with throughout the play. At the end of the day, she isn’t doing this for Edmund but instead to be betrothed to him instead. Not only did Goneril promise Edmund status, who is a bastard and not born into power, but she also murdered her own sister because she was also in love with Edmund. Maybe Goneril was a favorite of mine because she was bold, I think it had more to do with her strive for power in a male-dominated society.

Unfortunately, Goneril is deemed an antagonist to the story because of her attempts to claim power. Deciding she is a villain is unfair to the circumstances she was placed in society due to her sex assigned at birth. Goneril did what was necessary for a woman in society at the time to obtain and maintain her power. The other characters and many other readers confuse an assertive woman as a villain with mal intent because society has an issue with women in power. This common narrative of women with power being slandered is happening in society today. While running for president, Hilary Clinton was heavily criticized for her views on feminism in America. Her thoughts and ideas scared the greater public because people confuse a woman in power with an antagonist solely based on the fear that women are held to higher standards than men are.

Although Goneril was made out to be the villain of the story, I think her efforts for power portray a strong woman who truly did what she wanted for her and not others. In my eyes, she serves as an example of the almost impossible standards women are held to compared to men and how hard it is to defy the perception of others when your capabilities are already decided based on your sex assigned at birth.

Is This America?

This Is America- Chldish Gambino

The song “This Is America”, by Childish Gambino (Donald Glover), was released on May fifth, in the year two-thousand and eighteen. The song is in the genre of rap and was written by many other artists of color. The song tackles gun violence, mass shootings, and the systemic racism black people face in America to this day. The artist also uses repetition and rhythm to make this rap into a form of poetry.

Guns in my area (word, my area)

I got the strap (ayy, ayy)

I gotta carry ’em

This is America- Childish Gambino

This quote is addressing the gun violence issue in America. The way that Glover pronounces the words makes it flow that every line has the same amount of syllables and causes a rhythm along with his powerful words. I argue that this song is poetry for the same syllable structure found in many poems. The way he is using poetic devices to communicate that the gun violence issue in America is so prevalent that it is affecting his own neighborhood, let alone himself that he needs a gun to combat the issue.

This is America (skrrt, skrrt, woo)

Don’t catch you slippin’ now (ayy)

Look at how I’m livin’ now

Police be trippin’ now (woo)

Yeah, this is America (woo, ayy)

This Is America- Childish Gambino

This part of the song is a reference to the police brutality against black people and the crimes committed against them. Gambino uses the word now three times to end a line, the poetic element of repetition being used to stress how current this issue is. There are instances of police brutality against black men and women frequently and the problem has not gotten better since this song was released. Gambino used his platform to draw attention to the injustice in the form of art. Although there is music behind this, its poetry due to the metaphors, repetitions, and imagery that each line holds. The performance piece can also help argue that it is poetic. In the music video there are exploding cars, dance moves involving guns to people’s heads, and violent choreography simulating the pain that systemic racism has brought to society.

America, I just checked my following list and

You go tell somebody

You mothaf***** owe me

This Is America- Childish Gambino

This specific part in the song is one of the most powerful, because it’s one of the only parts that genuinely rhyme and isn’t repeating a word. Its also one of the central themes of the song that America needs to treat people of color better and change the oppressive system. This is also one of the few lines that has an entirely different line structure separating it from the rest, making it stand out more.

Donald Glover uses repetition, metaphors, and changes how words sound to make a song that is also poetry. He uses these poetic devices to communicate the prominent injustices placed onto black people in America, and uses his widely known platform to do so.

No Need, No love

People strengthen bonds from going through experiences together. In Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, Nadia and Saeed relationship blossoms through every treacherous obstacle they are forced to step over. The two are faced to emigrate to several new countries, leave family behind, and escape the dangerous at home. Nadia and Saeed having gone through this have a stronger connection than if they had stayed at home forever. The comfort of having someone to go through these tolling events can keep someone going. Nadia and Saeed’s connection is romantic. The reader watches the connection develop into a more emotional going farther and farther from surface level. Since these two had to grow this connection over dire times they only know how to connect at dire times. It isn’t until they arrive in Marin where Nadia realizes that she doesn’t know how to further connection and there is no spark.

In Marin, Nadia and Saeed weren’t forced to hide and run as they had to in the past. Instead they joined the community with others and started being apart of something. Nadia got a job and started returning to what is seen as a “normal life”, it is then when she realizes she doesn’t need the comfort of having Saeed anymore. She leaves the home they have and starts sleeping in the vacant room at her workplace. Saeed and Nadia still have love for each other, just the spark and need for each other is missing because they don’t need each other anymore. It seems that when they had so much going on they had this spark that kept them together, but when they have security in themselves its not there and it’s what causes Nadia to leave. Hamid writes “they grew less worried of each other”(223), by saying this he communicates that the situation isn’t as severe but also they have grown apart.

I do still believe that Nadia and Saeed still love each other, however are not in love with each other. When they meet again, they bring up their past relationship and mention the sexual aspect. I do believe that they still have this attachment to each other however they are too apart. For Nadia to even correct him and say they “were having sex”(230) proves that the care is still there. They may have lost the spark that was so powerful for a heavy period of their life, but they definitely will always remember the time they spent together.

The Punishment of Committing an Emotionless Crime

Mersault enters a hearing with press capturing every every movement he dares to make. He is sitting their having a prosecutor depict every part of his personality and relate it back to the crime he committed. Throughout the book we constantly hear the complaints about Mersault not showing any sincerity whatsoever, and in the trial we hear it again. The prosecutor hits Mersault where it hurts and brings up his indifferent response to the passing of his maman. The prosecutor asked if maman passing “had been hard on [him], [he] Maman and I didn’t expect anything from each other anymore”(88). Prior to the prosecutor’s nagging questions Mersault even mentioned how much these never ending questions about her bothered him. This was one of our first glimpses into a chance that he could be vulnerable. His response again shows he chose not to be vulnerable and instead gave an answer that left everyone else in the room doubtful for the future of Mersault. A question that did occur to me was “What if?”. What if Mersault was vulnerable and admitted that all these things were hard on him. Would this trial have gone smoother? I personally doubt the prosecutor wouldn’t have gone any easier and instead use these feelings against him. To everyone else especially the press I think these raw emotions could have helped his case and portray to everyone that he does care about things.

During the actual murder, thoughts feel rushed and emotions feel blocked. “Than i fired four more times at the motionless body”(59), Camus seems to be purposely leaving out any emotions and showing us his actions causing a downwards spiral. This spiral ensues chaos and the last sentence had the word “unhappiness”. It was the first time we were given a name of a feeling by Mersault. We finally see after something grave happens to him, he releases his first emotion of unhappiness. Prior to the maman and dog situations we see little to no regard for any negative emotion, we see an indifferent man ready to continue his life. After him murdering an arab and shooting him four more times we are left with someone who will most likely dwell on this for the next part of the novel. The trials finishes with us knowing he will be executed for his crime, in his last moments we the reader see some sincerity. From the readers perspective it feels “too little, too late”, I do wish that Mersault expressed himself more in the trial. Us knowing he will be executed and not seeing it I think was a good choice by Camus. It leaves us with an imagination of what happened. I think that the brusque unknowing ending really fits Mersaults lack of expression and idea of life.

Emotionally Detached or Emotionally Numb?

When Reading The Stranger, I felt as if I was a viewer into the world of Mersault and all the quirky people that interact with him. It feels like I sitting in the corner of the room watching Mersault right before my eyes. The book felt like everything was moving very fast and things often unraveled but tightened up very quickly. The book being wrote in the 1940’s makes a lot of sense for being revolutionary for its time. The content so far is widely talked about today, but I can imagine when this first came out the taboo followed this book around to every book store selling. I am enjoying the book so far but I still have so many questions that have yet to be answered.

The theme or central idea has yet to be revealed, but Mersault’s attitude and the way he looks at life seem to be a recurring idea that circulates. It started with the conversation at the retirement home, where he put his maman. The complete disregard for his mothers death is shocking, the way he is able to emotionally ignore something so heavy is truly frightening for the future of the novel. There is an argument that something so emotional could have such an effect on him, it could be causing this emotional numbness, but not even in Mersault’s thoughts do we see a glimmer of sincerity. We see some forms of emotional reactions later but still none are considered normal or healthy for the situation. One example is when he is invited to Raymond’s apartment for dinner, and he witnesses animal abuse. “i stood their motionless. And in old Salamano’s room, the dog whimpered”(33). The thoughts of disgust are there but the reader still misses the empathy that is necessary to form healthy human emotions.

From what I have read so far it is evident the reader is in for a for an earthquake of tragic experiences as we the reader sit in that corner and gaze at how lightly he takes everything. I am eager to see if something will happen directly happen to him and not the others around him, maybe that will provoke a response out of him. Or maybe something could happen to Marie (the love interest so far), maybe it is the type of love where we will find the sincerity of his feelings for her. Like i said earlier everyone copes differently and this must be his way.