Not The Stranger but The Other

The stories of global others aren’t told by the proclaimed other. Instead reporters and journalists have mere glimpses into their worlds and come to form their own conclusions on what they believe to be happening. It is rare that the voice of those experiencing these events is the one that is broadcasted when delivering us international news. The majority of the information given by the media does not offer the perspective of the civilian but instead from an outsider perspective simply stating the effect on the particular population as a whole.

Wide groups of people are also viewed specifically as the other due to the way they are depicted in the film and entertainment industry. In many western films, the main character travels to a country outside the United States, and often times these countries are made out to be recognized by the audience as “third world countries.” They depict these arrival scenes with views of streets that are extremely crowded along with people that have raggedy appearances, or dirty street markets that contain beggars on every corner. The different races and religions in these movies are shown wearing specific stereotypical outfits, even though, in reality those depicted often wear brands or types of clothing the same as you or I. The religions represented in these films tend to not represent how diverse the entire population truly is. In conclusion, those we deem as global others are not given the proper platform to share their stories and experiences. The film and entertainment industry holds them down even more so, whether intentionally or not, by creating large generalizations of entire populations for people to base their judgment upon.

The “Global Others” Conundrum

In Exit West, Saeed and Nadia become immigrants, leaving their war-torn country. In other words, they become “global others”. These “global others” are often seen as the unwanted members of society, and many don’t see them as people at all. The irony behind this is that there isn’t much separating them from everyone else. What makes someone a “global other”, as opposed to someone else, is simply where they were born and the conditions they were subjected to. Discriminating against and ostracizing the “global others” is not only harmful to the victims of that treatment, but also to the perpetrators of it. Those that treat “global others” negatively limit their worldview and also set a precedent for how to treat all future “global others, maybe including themselves. Who can say what the next war-torn or hunger stricken nation will be? Who can say who the next “global others” will be?

Not to get political, but with our current President, the next “global others” could have easily been us Americans, the same Americans that make up a nation doing its best to keep “global others” out. If we keep others out when they need help, who is going to let us in when we need help? Many Americans would and have denied this as a possibility, claiming to be a superior nation. They would say that “global others” exist because their nations were poorer (spoiler: the United States owes a lot of money), or that their nations were not as sophisticated as our own. Exit West does a good job of displaying just how incorrect this is throughout the novel. When introducing Nadia’s character, it described her “sitting at her desk at the insurance company, on an afternoon of handling executive auto policy renewals by phone, when she received an instant message from Saeed asking if she would like to meet” (23). Nadia lived a normal life, one that any American woman might live, working a modern-day desk job and texting a crush on her cellphone; she had all the resources and capabilities we would consider important to lead a successful life in the United States, only she was not born in the United States, she was not raised in the United States, and unlike those of us that were born and raised in the United States, she was forced to flee a war zone.