The term “other” connotes exclusion and to a certain extent—isolation. In this world filled with strangers, indeed, it is highly difficult for one to treat other as his or her own brothers and sisters. The gaps and disparities, most especially if it emanates from ideological and religious perceptions become even wider. Conflicts and misunderstandings that could have been easily resolved become more complicated. Thus, arriving at the most appropriate solutions seem to be too idealistic, if not too utopic.
More often than not, clashes occur because of mankind’s inability to feel and understand the sentiments of one another. This matter is further reinforced through textual and visual representations that are being used in the media. Media has the power to shape and influence the views of other people. But aside from the fact that such institution also functions as information transmitter, it cannot be denied that such is also used to voice out the unheard opinions of different communities, subcultures and marginalized groups.
This is most especially true as for the case of countries or states wherein a plurality of culture and traditions exists. However, there is a sad reality that one has to confront. Although there is the attempt to reach out to minority groups, still, the concept of “otherness” is still evident. The present media system is still dominated by western thoughts and perspectives. This would not come as a surprise since they own the technology and necessary materials to run sophisticated media outfits and groups.
While it is true that there is recognition of minority groups, this is nonetheless too superficial and at certain times, out of context. During the 9/11 attacks, the “otherness” of the east, to be more specific to countries and regions that are within the Arab domain are further highlighted and given emphasis. Stereotypes and deviant connotations are attributed to these communities, as if Hussein’s alleged “mistakes” should be blamed on the whole Arab community.
It can be observed that the aftermaths of the attacks resulted to a spectacle of crime and violence, as if insinuating that Arab regions are not capable of promoting peace and kindness. From such act alone, there is already the attempt to isolate—there is already a manifestation to exclude and undermine the sentiments of those who are really involved. The sudden outpour of media products that denounce war and terrorist attacks, in films for example, is no less than a propagandist move and technique (Castonguay, 2004).
The war on terror and the advocacy to prevent such incidents is worthy of praise and recognition. However, the manner in which it is presented in the public is way too disappointing. Castonguay (2004) mentioned that while film institutions and groups have decided to be fair and just in terms of their media representations, a closer analysis brings us to the certainty that film as a medium is further used to depict negative connotations against Arabs and to a certain extent—a disrespect and misinterpretation of Islam’s principles and values.
The result therefore is a consistent “demonizing” as Castanguay (2004) purports, of both native and immigrant Arab views and sentiments. With media images and texts that would often show Arab villains and antagonists, the aim to achieve peace and harmony, the notion of creating a united world and war free environment results to a mere proliferation of hatred and anger. Western media should readily confront that while they own the biggest media outfits and establishments, they do not own and control the identity of the Arab people.
Neither can they say that they really understand them in the truest sense of the word. Castanguay’s (2004) article clearly presents why East and West hardly meets. Like parallel lines, the directions that they are heading to, find it difficult to intersect at a common point. What happens instead, is that differences that are rooted on social and cultural contexts are placed on the center stage. But with the power that Western media possess, those from the periphery are further silenced and totally taken for granted.
In the meantime, Kosnick (2004) expounded that the existence of Open Channels in Germany does not really serve their roles and purposes. Kosnick (2004) argued that the need for profit and revenues seem to be the basis of how media goods should be produced and delivered, most especially to their target audiences. Since there is the intention to ensure that Islamic migrants are able to express their views and opinions, freedom and access were readily given (Kosnick, 2004).
Support from the local government was provided as well (Kosnick, 2004). On the other hand, the same freedom and access, while it has indeed given the chance for these migrants to speak up, seem to further introduce divisions among its citizens. The seemingly laissez-faire approach that was taken by the German government did not really apply as “extreme fundamentalist” notions are articulated (Kosnick, 2004). In this case, the “othering” of western media is still present and is not really eradicated.
The lack of regulation, of there is any yet still governed by the quest for profit and revenues seem to exemplify neglect and total disregard. When Islamic producers are asked to translate their shows during the 9/11 attacks (Kosnick, 2004), the “othering” becomes even worse. Such policies and regulations tend to prohibit Islamic migrants from conversing in their own native tongue and therefore, there is the subtle approach to express ones identity and censorship, in this case became Western media’s formidable tool.
Othering in western media should be readily assessed and examined. This cannot be merely described as a social dilemma but more of a moral obligation that should be observed, promoted and practiced.
References Castonguay, J. (2004). Conglomeration, New Media and the Cultural Production of the “War on Terror. ” Cinema Journal. 43 (4), 102-108 Kosnick, K. (2004). “Extreme by Definition:” Open Channel Television and Islamic Migrant Producers in Berlin. New German Critique. 92, 21-38