….and orientalism

”An Egyptian Pottery Seller Near Giza,” by Elisabet Jerichau-Baumann (1876).

As I sat in the traffic jam this morning watching the pukeko at the side of the road I contemplated the nature of films, and their role in glorifying the (middle) East. It seems that through film we viewed the (middle) East as sexually free, just the way the Romans (and much later the Brits) visited Naples for their R & R.

And I thought of Edward Said and his views about Orientalism.

Said defines the term more broadly, however, as ‘the corporate institution for dealing with the Orient – dealing with it by making statements about it,authorizing views of it, describing it, by teaching it, settling it, ruling over it…Orientalism[has been]…a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient.

(http://www.scribd.com/doc/104617874/Edward-Said-s-Orientalism-From-Ripples-into-Waves-The-argument-of-Orientalism-and-its-implications-for-literary-criticism. P.1).

And I thought how peculiar it was that we now viewed the (middle) East as repressive not licentious, as restrictive not ‘free’ and as inflexible. It’s something about the way we view the world and it’s something about the fact the (as Derrida says) the opposite is always inherent in a view or statement.

How many films now, about the wondrous (middle) East and being captivated by exotic women? My how our (American) views have changed.And speaking of films: watch Sally Potters’ Yes.

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One thought on “….and orientalism

  1. At Rels Studies, Otago, we viewed extract from ‘300’. Get the binary opposites, Spartans being wonderfully spartan and the Persians as The Other. So how do the filmmakers depict Xerxes’ court? X talks like a girl, people play music and dance. That such wickedness should be! One tearaway wondered aloud if the Thermopylae lads were actually Presbyterian.

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