Orientalism and its Prevalence Today

I had always thought that Orientalism and the word Oriental itself was simply just racist towards Asian individuals. I do still think that, but it was interesting to hear Said’s point of view on it. He worked to see “past” its racism and instead studied it objectively and historically to try to figure out why Americans have such an “us” and “them” mindset. But God of Small Things showed that some people who live in Asia may have that same mindset, but view being American or being from the west as a positive, while it’s the opposite for Western folks.

Although the video of Said and his book on Orientalism are from quite a while ago, the Eurocentric view of Asian people has remained and nothing has made that more clear than the Corona Virus.

On countless occasions I have overheard people confidently say such uncomfortable and harmful things about Chinese people because the virus originated from there. It seems like everyone is forgetting that the most harmful and murderous diseases came from Europe. But of course as soon as something comes from Asia it is suddenly all of their faults and their way of life is now being constantly criticized. It’s also been crazy to see how the media has used Asian people in pictures when reporting on the virus when it made no sense to.

The only way to truly understand why people are so quick to say such ignorant remarks is to trace it back historically. I think we all take part in reinforcing ingroups and outgroups, and I don’t think they’re always bad. But when it comes to blaming a gigantic group of people who are just as guilty (but more like innocent) as you and I, is when it becomes a large and harmful issue.

Life Is Beautiful

I never saw myself smile or laugh while watching a film about a tragic historic event that affected so many lives. With Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful, a film about a Jewish Italian waiter (Guido) who falls in love with a women, eventually they marry and have a son (Giosue) . Then in turn of events the family is separated from each other and taken to concentration camps. The father focused to protect his son from the horrors of reality, he convinces his son that it is only a game and everyone is playing along. the film is set against the tragic backdrop of the Holocaust, but doesn’t focus on the tragedy. Benigni uses comedic elements, antics and humorous interactions, and physical gestures to bring comedy to the dark event.

Benigni use of noticeable physical gestures, humorous interactions, and antics. Benigni starts the first half of the film more lighthearted and romantic between two characters who eventually fall in love. But the audience is soon reminded that this movie is set in a tragedy under Mussolini and Nazi power.

The first comedic strategy Benigni uses is the interactions Guido has with his son Giosue, who doesn’t understand what’s happening around him. Benigni takes advantage of this and uses the knowledge of a child for comedic purposes. For example in the film, upon arriving at the prison camp, Giosue is confused why so many people are lined up, the father Guido explains that everyone is lined up because they can’t wait to get inside. Benigni is using the interactions between a son and father to express comedy in very tense situations in the film/

Another comedic strategy Benigni uses is Guido’s physical gestures throughout the film. Throughout the film Guido performs a goofy walk while being escorted by any Nazi solider. Guido performs this goofy walk because he knows his son is watching him. Guido needs to act funny to show his son that the situation isn’t serious. There are many physical gestures throughout the film that bring light to the situation.

Life is Beautiful is the perfect example of comedy because it focuses on bringing the Holocaust a very dark event in history into the light with comedic strategies.

GET OUT of here racism

Get Out, a movie directed by Jordan Peele, is a satirical experience that intends to display the problems with racism in America. The movie’s main character, Chris Washington, is in a couple with a white lady named Rose Armitage. The movie begins on a very nice note, seeing Chris and Rose planning a trip to go meet Rose’s parents, with Chris portraying the first poke at racial problems in America. He asks Rose if her parents know that he is black, and she tells him that they won’t care, Chris is hesitant of this, but still decides to meet her parents. The movie continues and Chris and Rose finally arrive at her house, and her parents seem extremely excited to see him. Everything seems good on the surface, but it doesn’t take long for Chris to start realizing some of the oddities that occur. Some of these oddities include black “helpers”, who share a resemblance to slaves, to which the family sees no problem with. These “helpers” seem to act very odd when Chris interacts with them, and one even tells Chris to “Get Out” when a picture is taken. A very angry brother who seems to be mad at Chris for no reason, and a hypnotic mother who toys with Chris’ mind. As time goes on, Chris gets more and more fearful of the situation, and so does his friend Rod. Rod brings up the common archetype in movies that the black people always die first, and really begins to worry for his friend. 

This is where the spoiler has to come in, because there is no way to talk about the movie as a whole without a spoiler of what happens. Of course, Chris is right about his fears about everything being too good to be true. The Armitage’s have an annual get together, full of white people, and they all seem very nice to Chris. There is a repetition of Chris getting informed that his physique is nice, and not just his, but physiques of all different types of black athletes. This of course makes Chris uncomfortable, but the caucasian people at the get together see no problem with it. Chris ends up wanting to leave, but Rose tries to convince him otherwise, as this happens, Chris’s friend realizes that one of the helpers is actually a man who was kidnapped a couple of months ago. At this point, Chris tries to leave himself, but unfortunately doesn’t make it out of the house. It turns out that there was something up the whole time, ) what a surprise) and Rose’s family lures black people to their house to make use of the “nice physique. They do this by surgically removing the brain of the african american, and putting the brain of the white person into the black person’s body. The movie ends with Chris killing the family members, escaping the house, and having a final standoff with Rose. In the final moments, with Chris bloodied and on top of Rose, a police car shows up, and Rose tells Chris that she wins, but Rod walks out of the car and brings Chris to safety.

 There are many satirical moments in this book that poke fun at the common problems black people face today. Another form of humor used is hyperbole, which as a whole is displayed when Chris goes to meet his white girlfriend’s family. Normally, there is a fear of being in an interracial relationship, and not having your parents know. This is usually met with disagreement, but nothing of this extent. Another form of satire in this movie is when Rose’s family insists Chris meets all of their neighbors, and they all make the comment that “Black is in fashion again”. Of course they are talking about the clothing, or are they? Another form of satire is on display at the end, when the police car pulls up with Chris on top of Rose. All viewers were immediately filled with sadness as soon as this happened, knowing the situation that will unfold, despite all of Chris’s efforts to make it out alive. Only for Rod to step out of the car and save Chris. 


These scenes are all different ways in which Jordan Peele tries to display the different problems with racism in America in this age. I think that some of the underlying themes of this are 

  1. There is a want for the assets that black people possess, although this movie displays it in an overexaggerated way, this is still true nonetheless. An example of this in real life is the recent exposure that black culture has been getting, and the term “culture vulture” that has been coined to white people.
  2. Another form of satire is one that I touched upon earlier, which is when the police rolled up at the end. Rose tells Chris that he is screwed, and that the police will believe her, only for it to be Rod. Although it was Rod, if it wasn’t Rose would probably be right, and in this situation, no matter what Chris says, he will be the one in trouble for what happens. This occurs in today’s society, the black person is often the first one suspected when it comes to crime, and the one who will be incarcerated.
  3. The problem with interracial relationships today. This was an exaggeration, but in the beginning you see Chris and how tense he is that her parents still don’t know that he is black.

This clip shows Chris’s friend, it is a funny clip, but it does a good job showing the fear that a black man has when it comes to problems like this.

These are only a few reasons that display why Get Out was not only funny, scary, and interesting, but also extremely moving, and capable of showing the many problems with America today

The Combination of Horror and Satire to Show Racism

“Get out,” directed by Jordan Peele, is a thriller and horror film about a young African-American man (Chris) who visits his white girlfriend’s (Rose) family for the first time. The family is extremely welcoming and accommodating, which Chris reads as the family trying to accept their daughters interracial relationship. But as time progresses, Chris begins to notice odd things. For starters, the family has many African American people who work for them, but they seem off and don’t act like normal people. In addition, One of the older members of the family is married to a younger black man, who while Chris is speaking to him begins to scream “Get out.” These events put Chris on edge, in addition to the families repeated beliefs that black people are “athletically and genetically superior” to white people. Spoiler Alert! I feel that the end of the movie must be spoiled in order to understand the satire and meaning behind the movie. Chris’ suspicions are correct, the family has different plans for him than to just have him visit. The mother of the family hypnotizes him into a “sunken space,” where Chris is detached from his own reality, watching it like a movie. We discover that the family has been doing this to the other black people who are in the house, but in this state of hypnosis, they have been putting the conscious of their white relatives into the black people because they believe black people to be genetically superior. The African Americans whose body it actually is are forced to watch what their body does through the sunken reality they are hypnotized into. Certain things, like flashes, can cause them to regain control and consciousness for a while, which is how the one man tells Chris to “get out” when a picture is taken of him. This man knows what will happen to Chris if he stays.

The film specifically uses irony and hyperbole to demonstrate how racism in America, although many white people think is much better, is not actually changed that much from the past. Irony is used with the contrast with what the family is expected to be — a democratic family trying to accept Chris — to what they actually are — basically enslaving black people for their personal gain. This contrast is supposed to shock the audience, but also supposed to represent the racism in our society everyday that we don’t notice. Hyperbole is also used in the movie. Obviously it is not possible to take someone’s consciousness and put in someone else, there is not technology for that. The use of the “sunken consciousness” is not meant to be taken literally, but instead meant to show how white people are still shaping and trying to control the minds of black people. Although this is meant to be extreme, it is also meant to shed light on the blatant racism that still exists in the U.S.

The movie is definitely criticizing modern America. The combination of satire and horror serves to attack racism and white people’s mindset towards black people in America. The writing shows how even those white people thought to be normal often have racist mindsets. Although it is meant to exaggerate the situation in America, it’s purpose is to also show how extreme and dire the situation with racism in America is, and what could theoretically happen in the future. I think Peele wants to change society with this movie by truly showing the racism occuring in America.

Satire In ‘JoJo Rabbit’

‘JoJo Rabbit’ is a historical and satirical comedy about a German city during World War II. The movie came out at the end of 2019 and was directed by Taika Waititi, who is half Jewish. The movie is about a 10 year old kid names Johannes who idolizes Hitler and the Nazi way of life. He dreams of being a Nazi soldier and trains in a Hitler Youth summer camp. Throughout the movie, he imagines he is talking to Hitler (played by Waititi) who could also be seen as his ‘imaginary friend’. Through JoJo, Hitler plays his companion, adviser, and friend. SPOILER ALERT- One day, JoJo finds a Jewish girl in his attic that his mom has been hiding for some time. JoJo is conflicted between his preconceived hate for Jewish people and his naturally kind heart and must make a decision to either follow Hitler’s orders or his own instincts.

Trailer- https://youtu.be/tL4McUzXfFI

Waititi employs satirical comedy all throughout the movie using overstatements and irony. The most prominent use is overstatement. He exaggerates the perception of Hitler greatly by showing him as an idolized celebrity to young German kids. For example, to start the movie, footage of Nazi rallies and Germans going crazy for Hitler is shown with the song ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ playing over it. This compares Hitler to the Beatles showing how each of their fanbases treated them both similarly. Later in the movie, during a scene in which people are greeting others, “Heil Hitler” is said 31 times in one minute to emphasize the ridiculousness of the Nazi way of life. To employ irony, Waititi plays Hitler and portrays him as a sidekick who is weak and powerless, opposite of how he is viewed by the other characters in the film. When Waititi was asked about why he chose to play the role of Adolf Hitler, he said “What better fuck you to the guy?” The movie does more than just make fun of Hitler, Nazi’s, and Hitler worshipers. It shows viewers how ridiculous people in Germany were for supporting and idolizing such a terrible person and adopting the terrible beliefs he preached. Satirical work that criticizes the Nazi’s like ‘JoJo Rabbit’ will continue to be made and hopefully prevent another person like Hitler from coming into power again.

John Denver’s Nostalgic Ode to West Virginia

John Denver’s famous hit country song “Take Me Home, Country Roads” was released on April 12th, 1971. Considered as John Denver’s signature song, it was co-written by himself and his good friend Bill Danoff and surprisingly isn’t truly about West Virginia.

To show the poetic meaning of the song, one must look into the context of the writing of the song, as is similarly seen in poems. Bill wrote the song about his home state Maryland, reminiscing about its curving, winding roads. In a state of nostalgia mixed with home sickness, Danoff wrote the piece and presented it to his friend and artist, John Denver. Adding his own twists and turns, Denver created his now most prominent piece, “Take Me Home, Country Roads”.

Almost Heaven, West Virginia

Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River

Life is old there, older than the trees

Younger than the mountains, growing like a breeze

Denver singing to a simple beat, starts his piece with a quatrain. Right away, Denver compares West Virginia to heaven. Denver is using imagery to paint a picture to his listeners. He describes oddly describes life as old followed by describing a breeze as “growing”. I find this odd use of language combined with his detailed features of West Virginia as poetic to his listeners. His singing gives the feeling of nostalgia, a bright look on the past of a country he loved.

Denver’s lines in his hit song also reach multiple dimensions such as the imaginative, sensual, and emotional. This can be seen in the following lyrics.

Misty taste of moonshine

West Virginia, mountain mama

The line “Misty taste of moonshine” gives the listener a sensual feeling. Taste is not normally described as misty, thus the listener imagines the moonshine as misty. The following line “West Virginia, mountain mama” also oddly describes the state as the mother of mountains. Upon hearing this line the listener imagines the mountainous state and can feel the nostalgia that Denver is singing about. This nostalgia is emotional for the listener themselves as they start to recall their own hometown or other matters they are nostalgic about.

Overall, John Denver and Bill Danoff created a poem of nostalgia, that shakes the bones of the listener, painting a picture within their head, and emotionally calling upon their own nostalgic experiences and past.

You Can Drown Yourself In Metaphors: Vanilla Curls

I first listened to Teddy Hyde’s song “Vanilla Curls” by accident, when it showed up in my Spotify recommended, but the seemingly simple happy song had more depth than I thought, and is a clear example of a musical poem. Telling of it’s inner poetry, the songs first line states the literary device used throughout:

I could drown myself in metaphor

I could crown your head and catch the floor

Lookin’ up at a yellow girl

She won’t cut me free of her Vanilla Curls

Hyde uses these opening lines as just a glimpse into the atmosphere he creates with the rest of the song. He does indeed use a plethora of metaphor throughout the lyrics, describing an almost dying relationship that has left him set in confusion, but also uses clever literary devices such as personification:

Equipped with private eyes, her stare declared me missing

Tried to talk myself out of it, but I never listen

Hyde’s use of literary devices isn’t the only thing that makes this song very poetic, but I would argue his use of diction and imagery does as well. He juxtaposes the melancholy feelings and doubt he has regarding his relationship with playful and silly imagery. Such as describing his significant other as food.

In a minute she already put my feelings in their place

I hate vegetables, but I’d put that stringbean on my plate.

His use of “stringbean” in this line has a deeper meaning as well, as in other songs of his stringbean is used as a term of endearment, like “honey” or “baby”. His seemingly silly wording and phrases creates a sense of childishness, which is interesting as the lyrics have a more to them. For example, near the end of the song he says:

She caught me by the ear and left me lying here in writhing fear

If I get any deeper, I might need diving gear

Hyde has a wonderful way of playing with wording and internal rhyme, while also telling a story of conflict and hurt. But, without looking closer at the lines, you would never guess the precision and thought put into the structure of the sentences, something shrouded by the light airy melody that shapes the song as a whole. Hyde does a seamless job of making the complexity of the lyrics and poetry seem easy and natural, culminating in a lovely tune with a hidden emotional meaning.