Orientalism in American Pop Culture

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In today’s American technological society, the power of media has a profound impact on shaping the way the public view and/or develop personal opinions about certain topics. By using popular culture as a tool to spread news and information to the public, the power of media has created depictions, whether it be accurate or not, about other parts of the world.

Edward Said was a Palestinian America scholar who was widely known for his novel Orientalism and for being one of the first researchers in the academic field of postcolonial studies. In 1978, Said coined the term “”orientalism”” and defined it as “”the West’s patronizing representations of “”The East””””, specifically South Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and East Asia. The concept of orientalism is apparent in many parts of American media today. In this literature review, I will specifically be analyzing how the power of media of the western world has distorted the public’s perspectives of the eastern world by using orientalism within American popular culture.

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Said believed that Orientalism was rooted deeper than how the West, or “”The Occident”” represented the East or “”The Orient””. Said argued that Orientalism started with European Colonialization. The West painted a world of the East that needed civilizing, in order to justify western colonization of eastern countries and artificially divide the two worlds of the civilized and the uncivilized so that The West would appear more superior (Tekdemir). The main problem however, arose when the Europeans started generalizing the attributes they associated with “”Orientals”” and started portraying these artificial characteristics associated with the Orient in their western world through different media sources. This created a certain image about The East in European minds and in doing that infused a bias in Europeans attitude towards The East (Luyendijk).

Representation in media plays a significant role in forming perspectives of the eastern world.

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