Hollywood Orientalism is not about the Arab world

Hamid Dabashi at Al Jazeera:

“Arabs” are not real people in these works of fiction. Arrakis in Dune are not Iraqis in their homeland. They are figurative, metaphoric and metonymic. They are a mere synecdoche for a literary historiography of American Orientalism. They are tropes – mockups that are there for the white narrator to tell his triumphant story.

The world at large will fall into a trap if we start arguing with these fictive white interlocutors, and telling them we are really not what they think we are. It is not just a losing battle. It is a wrong battle. This is not where the real battle-line is.

You do not fight Hollywood with critical argument. You fight Hollywood with Akira Kurosawa, Satyajit Ray, Abbas Kiarostami, Elia Suleiman, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Moufida Tlatli, Ousmane Sembène, Yasujirō Ozu, Guillermo del Toro, Mai Masri, ad gloriam. You do not battle misrepresentation. You signal, celebrate, and polish representations that are works of art.

More here.