Western film and the negative portrayals of the East
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Little Egypt 1896

'Fatima's Couchee-Couchee Dance' also known as 'Muscle Dance' Thomas A. Edison / Black Maria Studio 1896 (Kinetographic Theater).

             One of the most inaccurate portrayals of the East begins even as far back as 1897 with Thomas Edison’s kine-scope. The scene is titled “Fatimas dance”. Fatima being a name of Arabic descent originating in the Qur’an. Is a direct reference to what the title is, a woman of Arab descent “belly dancing”. The dance is clearly exaggerated. The twirl the dancer was doing in the beginning seems as it was hinting towards twirling dervishes, which is men and it is a religious dance, a twirl would not be conducted before a belly dance. As you also see, the belly dancing is highly exaggerated and if they were really trying to belly dance it would not look like this

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TRUE LIES - YOU'RE FIRED - CLASSIC

What a cheesy one liner here and what a way to die.

 

True Lies (1994)  starring Ah-Nuld and directed by the very, very successful film maker James Cameron was one of the most expensive movies ever made. Ranging from $100-$120 million dollars to make and with a international gross of $400 million, I would say it was a successful film. But it was also successful in continuing negative Middle Eastern stereotypes. Arnold in this film is a spy, that can shoot anyone without reloading, not be fatally injured and also has a great sense of humor. In a particular scene where Arnold is talking to his boss, his boss mentions to find the terrorists before they park a van with a bomb in-front of the white house. Mind you, this came out in 1994, one year before the Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh, who was an American of predominately Anglo-Saxon descent. When the Oklahoma City bombing happened, they hinted towards an Arab man on the news before McVeigh was caught.

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The Black Stallion Official Trailer #1 - Mickey Rooney Movie (1979) HD

The Black Stallion (1979) is a film I picked because it is a film based off a classic children’s novel called The Black Stallion by Walter Farley that came out in 1941. Why is this film such tarnish to the East? There is an opening sequence in the film that open up with Arabs mistreating a horse on a ship, and when the ship sank, this particular Arab character uses a knife to threaten a child and steal his life jacket. This character, or rather this whole scene is made up for the movie and does not even exist in the children’s novel. So not only are stereotypes reinforced but are being input in film when the film is lacking negative portrayals.

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A Café in Cairo (1924), directed by Chester Withey. The plot is centered on An Arab Thief/Bandit that kills an Englishmen and Englishmen’s wife to only save their daughter, to be wed later by the A...

A Café in Cairo (1924), directed by Chester Withey. The plot is centered on An Arab Thief/Bandit that kills an Englishmen and Englishmen’s wife to only save their daughter, to be wed later by the A... | Western film and the negative portrayals of the East | Scoop.it

A Café in Cairo (1924), directed by Chester Withey. The plot is centered on An Arab Thief/Bandit that kills an Englishmen and Englishmen’s wife to only save their daughter, to be wed later by the Arab Thief/Bandit/Marauder.

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The Son of The Sheik (1926) Rudolph Valentino

Controversial "rape" scene from Son of the Sheik starring Rudolph Valentino and Vilma Banky.

 

 This was one of the first “sequels” ever made during the this time in film. Again, this film continued to show Arab men as brutal, power hungry and relentless men that are eventually defeated by a westerner. Hence as mentioned above, a rape scene is about to take place. 

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Discovering Anna May Wong

Anna May Wong. The first to play the opposite of a white romantic lead in Toll of the Sea (1922). She was the first to break the barrier for East Asians in cinema due to a “interracial” relationship on screen in 1922. What I did want to mention is that there were times she was passed on from lead Asian roles to Non-Asian actresses which lead her to be so frustrated. She said they wanted Native Americans, Hungarians or Mexicans, anyone except Asians to play in Asian roles.



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Aladdin trailer

Aladdin is a great example of a stereotypical portrait. First I must say, if you look at the portrayal of culture it is very brutal. Even though it might be true in Saudi Arabia about stealing, the reinforcement of these images in children’s cartoons is a little bit pushing it. As soon as Jasmine escaped the palace to walk and enjoy “regular” life. There is a hungry poor boy that wants an apple. She simply picks the apple up and gives it to the hungry boy. The merchant that owned the apple stand immediately turns accuses her of stealing and tries to cut off her hand, for helping a little boy. So we are not saying we are cutting her hand off for stealing something like gold, ect ect. But we show her trying to help with hunger and her hand gets cut off. If anyone has ever been in a country that is dominated by Islam, I am not trying to stereotype but its hard to find hungry homeless. There are homeless but no one in those communities throws away food. It is just not there custom. Left-overs always go to the poor and incapable. That is just the way it is. Also the palaces were Ottoman, the sand was obvious Arabian, the Sultan’s clothes were Ottoman-Turkish and Jafar was a real life adviser in history for Persia. They eventually just blended three Middle Eastern Empires together for the desired effect.

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Sean Connery - The Wind And The Lion (Original Trailer)

Sean Connery - The Wind And The Lion (Original Trailer)

 

We shall flash forward fifty one years to a film that was described as “historically accurate” when it hit theaters at the time.  The Wind and the Lion which was released in 1975, starring Sean Connery as an Arab man in 1904 who kidnaps an American woman and demands ransom from Theodore Roosevelt. The truth was that the actually kidnaped victim was a man, not a woman. This film labeling itself as history accurate; reinforces the stereotypes that have been in western film since the 1920’s. The general whiff of the films are the same. An Arab man causes trouble for Westerners that are in Arab lands. He kidnaps a woman, reinforcing the fact that Arabs only target women, let alone women from Western Europe. At the end a westerner saves them by killing the Arab and saving the woman. The most prevalent detail of this movie, is that Arabs are so alienated that the main antagonist is an Arab played by a Scots-man, which is Sean Connery. So Arabs were not even good enough to play themselves in a role that is a stereotype. That is like me, employing Irishmen to play Samurai in my realistic Japanese movie set in a realistic setting. It really makes no sense.

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A Son of the Sahara (1924), directed by Edwin Carewe This is film basically revolves around an officers daughter that initially refuses to love an Arab boy, until she finds out he is actually Engl...

A Son of the Sahara (1924), directed by Edwin Carewe  This is film basically revolves around an officers daughter that initially refuses to love an Arab boy, until she finds out he is actually Engl... | Western film and the negative portrayals of the East | Scoop.it
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Baran Sarp Gurer's comment, April 4, 2013 8:19 PM
A Son of the Sahara (1924), directed by Edwin Carewe; has a very racist theme in the film. In general, this film is about a boy named Raoul who is brought up in a desert Arabian tribe. He later falls in love with an English officers daughter. The officers daughter initially refuses to have anything to do with the boy because he is an Arab. Only later when she finds out that the boy is not an Arab she falls madly in love with him. This is a very racism theme, showing that the Arab man should not even be touched by a Western woman. That marriage is forbidden with Arabs. This is a very racist movie
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The Sheik (1921) - George Melford

The Sheik by George Melford, starring Rudolph Valentino. This film was made in 1921. The negative stereotypes in Western Film of the Arab man dates even that far back as 1921. This film was about an Arab man being infatuated with an “adventurous” English woman and wants to marry her. In this film the Arabs are portrayed as thieves, murderers and brutes. They say this film set the stage in Hollywood at the time for negative portrayals of Arabs.

It was followed by a sequel called The Son of the Sheik which came out five years later in 1926.

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