Orientalism: a fluid state of truth

Being a third year media student, this past two weeks i was yet again faced with this idea of appropriation, assumption, and reconstruction of whatever it is (in this case asian culture) by the west through the media form. It is as if i were told yet again that what i’ve been watching and believing for my whole life was actually nothing than just a product of assumption and opinion by a bunch of white explorer.

At the beginning of my Asian Cinema Studies lecture, Dan (the lecturer) challenged this idea of Asia and asian cinema, asking what is actually asia and is asia really a thing ? is there any definite definition of asia? or is this thing called asia are actually subjective and tentative from one to another. Me myself, i never think of India, iran, iraq, or a more west part of asia as a part of asia, for me, the idea of asia is the oriental part of it, with china having massive influence in its culture. India, on the other hand, has their own distinctive culture that is very unique from china that makes me think of it as separated from my idea of asia. The assumption also extends to the idea of asian cinema with assumption of what asian cinema is being different between individuals. would you include Bollywood as asian cinema? or is an Indonesian movie in a way asian? This, i am sure would start an interesting argument and conversation between different people.

Nevertheless, the past few centuries has seen a lot of cultural appropriation and assumption created by the west especially regarding region and countries they explore and colonised. This brings to mind this idea of Orientalism that Edward Said brought up, which was also discussed during the lecture. The idea that this oriental culture is something that the white come up in their mind and become internalised into an assumption and norm of what is asian through the work of arts such as literature, songs, and especially paintings that western people bring home or around the world. Which in the end shows that a lot of what we believe is actually a product of appropriation.


While this may be concerning or may not even be a concern for some people, i thing the important thing we can take from this matter is that everything in the world is basically the work of assumption and perception. It is getting hard to define some things as differences are increasingly discussed. I remember my psychology tutor, while explaining about human perception, asking about the possibility that we are actually just a chunk of brain sitting in a small box doing nothing but creating this story and world setting. Cause after all, whatever we do, see, and feel now is just a work of our brain percepting what they thought happened. We can only know so much that we can never know what is true. We can assume something is true for some period of times, but until when is for me the question we really need to pay attention at.

Anyway, i think it is important to learn and understand that believing in an extreme can be dangerous. Cause as far and as sure as we can be about some idea or theory, we can never be sure enough about its definite state. It is until now that we can sure that Asia constitutes those region because some group of people agreed to call it that way. But the truth will gradually change and something always needs to evolve in order for us to survive as human. It is impossible for any beings to just stay what they are, because the universe is always in motion, and to not change and adapt to some new truth is to be left behind.

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