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Representing Foreigners, Enemies, and the Other in Popular Media

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Robert Saunders

on 9 July 2016

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Transcript of Representing Foreigners, Enemies, and the Other in Popular Media

Representing Foreigners, Enemies, and the "Other" in Popular Media
Kenyan-American
Russian
Irish
Native American (Apache)
Japanese
German Gypsy
Canadian
The only WASP in the crew (though he IS the leader)
The "New" X-Men (1975)
The new X-men replaced the all-white, all-American team from the 1960s
The "Yellow peril" in Popular Culture
Consider these depictions of "Asians" from the late 19th century to today. What sorts or representations do we see?
See the villain's eyes? They're larger than the other characters'. They - insinuate a slightly skewed perspective on how they see the world. Just off normal.
~ Unbreakable (2000)
The Arab in Popular Culture
What has changed in the post-9/11 era and what has remained the same?
Consider the representations of Arabs in the following films and TV shows:
24
The West Wing
True Lies
Back to the Future
Iron Eagle
Executive Decision
The Siege
Taken
Rules of Engagement
Sex and the City II
Patriot Games
Navy Seals
Hidalgo

Why are villains almost always foreigners?
Dr. Evil: The details of my life are quite inconsequential.
Therapist: Oh no, please, please, let's hear about your childhood.
Dr Evil: Very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen year-old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. My father would womanize, he would drink, he would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Some times he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy, the sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament. My childhood was typical, summers in Rangoon, luge lessons. In the spring we'd make meat helmets. When I was insolent I was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds, pretty standard really. At the age of 12 I received my first scribe. At the age of fourteen, a Zoroastrian named Vilma ritualistically shaved my testicles. There really is nothing like a shorn scrotum, it's breathtaking, I suggest you try it.
Representation of the Internal Other in America and the "West"
"Only very rarely are foreigners or first-generation immigrants allowed to be nice people in American films. Those with an accent are bad guys." ~ Max von Sydow
Real "Black Panthers" and Marvel Comics response to "Black Power"
DC Comics addressed the issue of race head-on
Popular Culture and the Cold War
Try to think of ways in which the Cold War was fought on screen and in other media and how the "enemy" was depicted
A classic geopolitical depiction of WWI-era German "aggression"
The Eternal Jew (1940) functioned as double-edged work of popular geopolitics: 1) as a tool to promote anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany; and 2) as a training tool for American G.I.s to understand the "mind" of the enemy
After 1968, depictions of minorities in American popular culture changed rapidly, while, at the same time, the geopolitical narratives of the Cold War were attentuated by increasing globalization
Europe, on the other hand, is confronted with increasing cultural conflict in the realm of popular culture, often manifesting in anti-Islamic propaganda
Banned
A type of video game in which players shoot a gun or rocket at an ever-changing scene of "bad guys." Introduced in 1993, DOOM popularized the first-person shooter game with its 3D graphics. First-person shooter games may be designed for single players or multiple players.

Source: PC Magazine
First-Person Shooter
Increasingly, the U.S. military is linking itself to the entertainment industry as it seeks to developed 21st century combat skills through "hands-off killing." Video games offer a simulated environment for this, but also lead to a disturbing dehamanization of the enemy, which is alternatively depicted as faceless Middle Easterners, hordes of flesh-eating zombies, or other dangerous but anonymous foes. The most obvious example of this is the free game America's Army.
Professional Wrestling
Consider the "heels" (bad guys) in professional wrestling from the perspective of popular geopolitics
A bit of our own propaganda
(compliments of Frank Capra and Dr. Seuss)
Disney's Contribution
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