Thursday, June 17, 2010

Don't Let Carrie's Designer Turban Fool You

I am not one that intends on bursting bubbles (although those close to me might refute that), and I do enjoy a fashionable romp around the world. But with disclaimers aside, here is the lowdown: after watching Sex and the City 2 it is abundantly clear that “Orientalism” is alive and well, ever-morphing, pervasive and has a bright future…if we let it.

Orientalism, a term coined by Edward Said in his ground-breaking book of the same name, is used to describe the exoticization of the “Eastern other” depicted through the works of Western art/artists. Said uses examples of 20th century European art to show how the “exotic East” was portrayed in stereotypical ways. However, we need not go back in time to see the proliferation of such depictions – I got a healthy dose of it through the 2.5 hours of Sex and the City 2 as the 4 ladies ran around the “mystical” land of Abu Dhabi.

For instance, when Charlotte’s daughter asks Carrie about Abu Dhabi, Carrie replies; “yes dear, it is the land of magic carpets and Arabian Nights…” or something to that affect. I think my jaw actually dropped at that point. There were some failed attempts to shed light on the complex nature of the gender issues that exist in Abu Dhabi, but just when I thought redemption was to be had; I was disappointed. For instance, in one scene the ladies are running away from the oppressive mob of Arabic men (how stereotypical), who are shouting at Samantha and Samantha retaliates by flaunting sex in their faces (her only weapon as a female?). Bad enough? I thought so, but it gets worse; they find safety in a room full of veiled women –who, once behind closed, doors take off their niqabs to expose their designer gear and are finally given a voice. So is the lesson that Muslim women only have voices once they expose themselves? These are just a few examples from an array of offensive material that was presented.

Sex and the City 2 successfully perpetuates Middle Eastern and gender stereotypes and what’s even worse packages them in amazing designer clothes in hopes we won’t notice…but I URGE you to notice. Don’t let Carrie’s designer turban fool you….

What do you think?

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