Thursday, December 8, 2011

I would have respected you more if you shitted on the manuscript

Sorry for the serial posting today, but this rant couldn't wait.

Have any of you heard of the new movie "Arabian Nights" that's currently in production? If not, here is the summary (from

"Arabian Nights" centers on a young commander (Liam Hemsworth) who, after his king is murdered in a coup, joins forces with Sinbad, Ali Baba and the Genie from the magic lamp to rescue the queen, Scheherazade. Hopkins will play Pharotu, an evil sorcerer who killed Sinbad's love, a mermaid, and is looking to amass more magic for himself.

I've never read the original Arabian Nights/One Thousand and One Nights, but I would bet a lot of money that there isn't a white commander in it, (much less one in a leading role). This is just one more example of classic Hollywood whitewashing.

But the part that really pisses me off? "...rescue the queen, Scheherazade."

For those who've never heard of One Thousand and One Nights, here's a basic summary: A Persian king bears a grudge against all women due to his wife's infidelity. As a result, he marries a series of women and kills them the following morning. Then he marries a woman names Scheherazade. The night of their wedding, she begins to tell him a story, but refuses to finish it until the following night. The king allows her to live for one more day so that he can hear the rest of the story. The next night, Scheherazade finishes the story and then begins another one. She continues this ritual for many nights, further and further postponing her execution. (Some of Scheherezade's stories included "Aladdin" and "Sinbad.")

Scheherazade is probably the most empowered female character in historical literature, and this movie is knocking her down into the role of classic damsel-in-distress--you know, someone for the powerful, white male lead to rescue. Well, you know what? In the original manuscript, no one rescues Scheherezade--she saves herself, using only her brains and her incredible story-telling ability.

I cannot express in words how truly offended I am.

Oh, and you know that expression "Feminism just got set back 1000 years"? The original manuscript is 1000 years old, and the authors still understood the notion of an empowered female character.

So please spread the word. This movie is nothing more than an insult to Arab/Persian culture, women, and literature in general.

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