HIS365g_Final_Exam[1] - Jessica Dietz Final Exam Question#1...

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Jessica Dietz Final Exam Question #1 Edward Said argued that cultural products created a general discourse that explained, perpetuated, and justified imperialism. This argument is supported in the films Turksib , Pépé le Moko , and Lawrence of Arabia . However, at the end of Pépé le Moko , and Lawrence of Arabia the matter of imperial justification is complicated when issues become less black and white. When the Russian director of Turksib , Viktor Turin, set out to make the film, his goal was to show how technology could improve the lives of people all over the world. Turin showed the audience a culture that did not use technology, the Kazakhs, and portrayed them as primitive and unproductive without technology. The Russian audience must have been in shock when viewing this culture because Russia was so advanced in their use of technology. The native people without technology were shown sleeping all day and being lazy. The natives were also shown as having their lives ruled by the weather, which is a very primitive existence. But, once they received the technology of the railroad, their lives improved greatly. The images of railroad workers was seen as positive and getting the train led to the revitalization of herds and an increase in cotton growing. With the train, the natives were no longer dependent on the weather. The Kazakhs got to be modern but could also preserve their way of life and improve what was great about their traditional society; they got to have strong herds of sheep and were able to enjoy more food. Showing that technology improves people’s lives supports imperialism because it shows that with the West’s help, people in the Orient can enjoy more satisfying and
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fulfilling lives. Therefore it was the West’s duty to provide these features in order to improve lives. The majority of the film Pépé le Moko is devoted to proving European dominance. At the beginning of the film the audience is introduced to Pépé, a charismatic, handsome French gentleman and his gypsy lover, Ines. Pépé immediately abandons Ines when he meets the French woman, Gabby. He feels that since both he and Gaby are from Paris, they can communicate more effectively than he and Ines can. His action of choosing the French woman over the gypsy promotes European supremacy and, therefore, imperialism. The film begins to contradict Said’s argument of imperial justification when the audience is introduced to Slimane. Said defines orientalism as depicting Europeans with order and the natives as chaotic; therefore necessitating Europeans to come so establish order and civilization can be established, but Slimane, who is Algerian, is associated with order because he is working with the police force. However, Slimane is also represented in the typical orientalist fashion because he is shown to be more feminine, while Pépé is depicted as more masculine. Slimane will often light Pépé’s cigarette, which is a very feminine attribute. Pépé is also always in a higher, more central position, which
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HIS365g_Final_Exam[1] - Jessica Dietz Final Exam Question#1...

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