Orientalism in Pocahontas

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Orientalism in Disney’s Pocahontas
While the name suggests an allusion to only Eastern Asia, or the Orient, Orientalism is a branch of Cultural Studies, an area of literary criticism that has applications in various mediums. The school of critical theory, created by Edward Said, is applicable to novels, essays, social situations, films, and epics alike. One film, to which Orientalism is applicable, is Disney’s Pocahontas.
To understand how Orientalism is applicable to a film that takes place in the Western world, far away from the Orient, a foundation detailing the components of Orientalism must be constructed. Traditionally, Orientalism’s focus is the depiction of Eastern cultures, or places considered a part of the Orient, such as
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In other words, in order for the Orient to be needed or useful, it must first be a separate entity. Since this is the case, the Occident has use for the Orient. The Occident, or the British settlers, desires land and gold from America, or the Orient. If America did not exist, there would be no desire for these things from the geographic location. Perhaps one of the strongest examples of Orientalism is Pocahontas lies within the first line of the song Colors of the Wind. Pocahontas sings: “you think I am an ignorant savage, and you’ve been so many places, I guess it must be so; but still I cannot see if the savage one is me, how can there be so much that you don’t know?” This is a prime example of Orientalism in the way of labeling the other group as “the other.” The British settlers automatically assume because the American Indians have a culture that they are not familiar with that the Indians are savages and should be conquered. The American Indians do not see themselves as savages in the same way the settlers did not see themselves as not belonging in the new world. Each group viewed the other in ways something the group did not view themselves. This is a key of Orientalism, as the very things Said feared would happen is what is taking place. “My two fears are distortion and inaccuracy, or rather the kind of inaccuracy produced by too dogmatic a generality and too positivistic
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