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How useful is Edward Said concept of orientalism in analysing dominant cinemas representations of people outside the west - Essay Example

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How useful is Edward Said concept of orientalism in analysing dominant cinemas representations of people outside the west

ing of countries like the Middle East, India, China, and those lying further east) has always occupied an area of interest within the realms of American cultural arena. Various topics that include men, women and children from the Orient, tend to appear persistently in different cultural discussions, with the greatest and most presumably, the highest influence seen in US based TV programmes and movies. Right from the time of its initiation, Hollywood has persistently represented characters from Orient (like Chinese, Indians and Arabs) in specific exotic terms that highlight their ethnicity (Irwin, 2007, 106). Thus, against a backdrop of stereotyped Oriental ‘Otherness’ stands the Western ‘good guys,’ a representation of the Eastern world by its Western counterpart, which is often biased and conventionalised (ibid). It is this (mal) representation or portrayal of various non-western cultures by western filmmakers, writers, and artists, which primarily arose from European colonial/ imperialistic attitude during the 18th-19th centuries, which has been termed ‘Orientalism,’ a concept derived from Edward Said’s famous book Orientalism published in 1978. Said contended that, “Orient was almost a European invention…a place of romance, of exotic beings…remarkable experiences… [an] imaginative geography…”(Said, 1978, 1). This theory brought forth the notion that the westerners viewed Islamic civilisation as barbaric and demonic, and hence a threat to their own culture. So Orientalism was used by various media sources, like TV and films to “control, domesticate such a fearful yet fascinating prospect” (Bernstein and Studlar, 1997, 3).
The Hollywood films-makers have held a continuing dominance over the worldwide box-office right from WWI, without any strong or long-term competition from any other rival film industries. Even though there were major setbacks to Hollywood during the Great Depression and later during 1960s, their dominance over ...Show more
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“The value, efficacy, strength, apparent veracity of a written statement about the Orient therefore relies very little, and cannot instrumentally depend on the Orient as such. On the contrary, the written statement is a presence to the reader by virtue of its having excluded,…
How useful is Edward Said concept of orientalism in analysing dominant cinemas representations of people outside the west
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