This documentary takes its bearings from an interview with distinguished scholar, public intellectual and political activist, Edward W. Said (1935-2003), branching out into a broader discussion of his work, which can above all be interpreted as a sustained effort to undermine, challenge and unmask the distorted, one-sided and outright bigoted portrayal of so-called ‘Orientals’, Middle Easterners, Muslims, Iranians, Arabs etc…, in the standard repertoire of much Western mainstream media coverage of the region.
From Fox News, to 24 and even Disney’s Aladdin, a self-consistent set of vague generalizations about the Middle East and the peoples who inhabit the region have become normalized to the point whereby racist stereotypes and pervasive discrimination against peoples of Middle Eastern origin is virtually ‘officially sanctioned’. Said’s work is an attempt to unveil how this regulated system of knowledge production vis-à-vis the Orient, integral to European imperialism in the 19th and 20th centuries, attempts to obscure vested political and socio-economic interests by presenting itself as an ‘impartial’ and ‘objective’ body of knowledge.
To this day Orientalist discourse remains deeply entrenched within the way politicians, movies, and the media represent and discuss the region. The recent alliance between some anthropologists of the Middle East and the US military establishment is no accident, because the latter demands (as did Napoleon upon his invasion of Egypt in 1798) a set of principles, ideas and concepts upon which to draw, so they are better equipped to subjugate and control the indigenous population. It is in this way that imperialism and faux-science have come to mutually reinforce and support one another.