Monday, October 11, 2010

The Culture Centered Perspective of the Middle East

The theory that worked best in analyzing the movie Sex and the City 2 is culture-centered criticism. This perspective works because the four girls travel to the Middle East, as they have to follow the rules of their country and respect their heritage. The culture centered theory 
“understands that look from one culture from another requires caution about the claims that one makes and an awareness that the culture being observed might well see itself and its own artifacts differently” (Brummett 148).
In the movie it shows the Middle East culture through the Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte’s eyes. The women are trying to understand their culture and adapt but with very little effort. However, Miranda makes a bold effort to respect the Islamic culture throughout the movie as she brings along a book with her to study. The women do not respect the culture instead of realizing they were they were guests of the country and acted like the country was a place to play Arabian themed dress up.

The majority of Americans are oblivious of the cultural values of the Middle East. Movies portray Muslims as controlling, violent, and repressed. Sex and the City 2 depicts Muslim culture as sex-phobic, repressed, and backwards from American culture. This view is distorted from the truth about Muslim culture. Women from Abu Dhabi are not what movie-makers make them out to be and as women “covered in black from head to toe, they appear as uneducated, unattractive, and enslaved beings” (Shaheen). In the movie women did wear burqas and veils. However, they did have a common ground with the girls love for fashion. Carrie notices veiled Muslim women who had decorated her head dress and quips with gold trim. These women are re-defining their tradition for themselves, as their dress is a proud statement of their religion.

The girls blatantly disregard respecting the culture of Abu Dhabi and wear flashy clothing and make jokes about the women. Like when Samantha says in the movie that they don’t want women to have a voice. Throughout the movie the women try to get Samantha to cover up but she disregards them and dresses inappropriately. Her actions in the movie are offensive and inappropriate.  

The Muslim men are perceived as controlling and angry. As the “negative images are sometimes perceived as real portrayals of Muslim culture, which come back to afflict Americans of Arab heritage” and women as repressed with no voice (Shaheen). This is just the way the four women view the culture but shows “the impact the screen images have on Arab and Muslim identities” (Shaheen).

Hollywood's Muslim Arabs by Jack G. Shaheen

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