Orientalism, Art, & Media

Howard Diep | 10209864

Today in class we went over and discussed the influence of media and propaganda in portraying Asians and Asian Americans. We covered the notion of being “Orient” and “Oriental”, a term that conveys a person belonging to a far away mysterious land, filled with wonders and magic, and other times inhospitable and savage. We were able to examine in depth through Margo Machida’s Unsettled Visions Chapter two, she exemplifies multiple artists and how their works disrupts the general norm of how art or different aspects of life are perceived. For example, I really enjoyed Madonna and the Child and how this was the respective artists attempt in recreating something Western to something that is Asian by using an Asian body within the fame to disrupt the “norm” of art. We also screened a view clips and mediums that depicted what Orientals were supposed to look like. In my opinion what they were supposed to look like was quite ridiculous when they were portrayed to general public through mass media. Such exaggeration of Asian and Asian Americans mutate what and who Asians and Asian Americans really are and because of this, still carry the negative stigmas that exist today.

A moment in class that really upset me was the depiction of Fu Manchu with the image of the Buddha (portrayed twice). This was very frustrating to me because the representation of Fu Manchu is of an individual who is an Oriental person and possesses evil mystical powers or black magic, hurts other people and ruins everyone’s lives by stealing your jobs, etc. Something that is negatively constructed in so many wrongful ways is positioned next to the image of the Buddha, someone who has attained enlightenment, and no longer possesses wrong views and misperceptions. This was kind of pathetic because I took it as human ignorance and not having the right understanding of what the Buddha is supposed to represent and mean. Western creativity of distorting what is real and what is imaginary is quite awe striking when you really examine it and relate it back to something personal, but even then it’s just amazing how racism, fear, propaganda, and ignorance can poison and hi-jack people and their minds. It resonated with me for the rest of the night how much it bothered me for some reason and how learning and touching up on different topics in class touches me in an intimate level of developing knowledge and wisdom and reflecting on my growth.

On another note of fear and propaganda, one note that I took from lecture and discussion that resonated with me was how media is a platform for the expansion of ignorance. I think mass media and communication can be a instrumental tool in transforming and shifting our way of thinking and ignorance into one of mindfulness and understanding. However, it can be a tool to spread ignorance as well. I believe though as a collective we have made progress in reaching equality (somewhat) and solidarity, but there is still room for improvement. Mass Media and the Internet however show us the work that still needs to continue to be done in order to prevent ignorance, racism, and wrongful views.


One thought on “Orientalism, Art, & Media

  1. dtohyama says:

    I totally agree with you in terms of media’s power. One of strong points media has is that any people can speak out and inspire many people with your thought. However, it has many risks such as anonymity and myth. When people can mention anything what you thought or felt without your name, some people are likely to blame minority group to take out their anger on them. If people do not know how to recognize what is true, many myth can easily spread. Before using SNS, we should rethink about it. Thank you for great post! I appreciate it! See you later!

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