The Kingdom: Hollywood and Propaganda.
2007 movie starring Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper and Jennifer Garnier.
Last night, I was watching my boyfriend watching the movie entitled “The Kingdom”. My boyfriend seemed to enjoy the action and the explosive scenes. However, I was quite intrigued. Is this a movie about terrorism? American interests in Saudi Arabia? or just a simple thriller?
Within the framework of the world’s muddled politics,and following the 9/11, I hardly suspect that Hollywood’s movies can offer an “objective” view of the world.
Personally, I feel that this type of movies can even make any possibility of a dialogue and understanding between cultures impossible or rather blurred.
Indeed, if you pay attention to the random phrases uttered by the American actors, you will sense a hidden discourse that fosters the “Us” and “Them” ideology. At some point, Jennifer Garnier warns her FBI team: “You are in the jungle”. What the female FBI agent was referring to is actually to Riyadh, and more generally to Saudi Arabia. So, a whole culture and geo-political space is reduced to a “jungle”, does not this echo older colonial discourses that view the “other” as “savage”, “barbarous” and “primitive”? Believe it or not, we are living in the 21st century but former colonial and ideological discourses are insipidly infiltrating our daily life, and more importantly the means of entertainment that hammer unconscious ideas into our heads.
Another interesting comment that mesmerized my attention is when one of the agents is holding a book about Koran and starts asking his colleagues the following question”How many virgins will be waiting for you in paradise?”. On a superficial level this can be understood as a sarcastic “joke”. However, uttered by an American FBI agent on an Muslim soil it can sound awkward. First of all, what ignites cultural misunderstanding is not just a sarcastic attitude towards others’ religion and cultures but the ramifications of such a sarcastic joke. Secondly, if we are to live in a better world we are in in an urgent need to deconstruct the discourse of “Us” versus “Them” whereby the “Us” is considered to be more supreme than other cultures. Finally, if we are to understand the current propagation of suicide bombing and mass killing we will definitely need to adapt a deeper look at the past history of the American presence in the Middle East and the US international politics. What causes such people to go and kill themselves and kill others? Is it just a promise of an ‘eternal paradise”? We need more than a team of FBI agents unraveling secrets of a crime scene.
I am not pretending to offer solutions, but I am definitely trying to question hidden ideological discourses that foster cultural misunderstanding and promote hatred. Is it possible that in the 21st century we are still talking about accepting the difference of others?