Edward Said's Piece on Orientalism Essay

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Edward Said’s piece on Orientalism gives the reader a profuse amount of information about “the Orient” and Orientalism. The Orient is symbolized by the character and culture of the people primarily in the Middle East. From Edward Said’s reading, I’ve learned that Orientalism is the false representations and assumptions perceived by the Western people about the Orient’s historical account, culture, art, and writings. Basically, this term refers to the Orient or East, in contrast to the Occident or West, though this is generally seen by the West’s point of view. In one of Disney’s movies, Mulan, I saw the use of Orientalism. In this movie, there are Chinese references that do not necessarily truly reflect Chinese culture, but rather reflect what many American’s perceive as being Chinese cultural practices. An example of this is the matchmaking process, which was traditionally Japanese. This is not an original Chinese practice. This use of a Japanese process as part of Chinese culture is a form of Orientalism, where Asian countries are considered the same, despite important differences. In the Disney movie, Pocahontas, there is a different misrepresentation compared to Mulan. Pocahontas misrepresents the colonial relationship between Europeans and Native Americans. This representation of the New World is characterized by a heroic European, John Smith, entering to save the Indian princess, Pocahontas, from marrying, Kocoum, her savage male companion. The audience of both these films would be younger children and parents who take their kids to watch these movies. At such a young age, these children are already being shown films which display a false interpretation of different cultures and their way of living. I believe this is very problematic. It’s not okay to teach the younger generation about false interpretations about other societies and cultures.

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