Said's Concept if Orientalism - Essay Example

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How useful is Edward Said concept of ‘orientalism’ in analysing dominant cinema’s representations of people outside the ‘west’? Introduction “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…
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Download file to see previous pages The Orient (comprising 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. ...
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 worldwide cinema remained unparalleled, thus spanning unquestioned influence over millions of viewers from all parts of the world for more than ten decades. Thus, it is understood that representation of any character(s) shown by Hollywood is bound to cast a strong influence on viewers all across the globe. Hence, one can contend that the negative and imagined portrayal of Orientalism has created a negative image of these countries on the global viewers, which is purely based on lack of adequate knowledge and presumptions on the part of Hollywood. In this context, we will examine the importance of Edward Said’s concept of Orientalism while analysing the dominant cinemas (Hollywood’s) representation of people outside West. Discussion “East is East, West is West, and never the twain shall meet”~ Rudyard Kipling (1932) Said’s concept of Orientalism: In actual perspective, Orientalism refers to Orient or East, akin to the term ‘Occident,’ which means West. Said in his book Orientalism perceives the term as comprising of many false presumptions, misconceptions, and various wrong assumptions as conceived by Westerners towards those residing in Eastern parts of the world (however, here it must be noted that Said primarily relates Orientalism to the Middle East, where he had spent some years as a child). As Cheryl McEwan informs, Said in ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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