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    • thorgalle
      Top reader this weekReading streakScout
      2 years ago

      I saw Dune with a muslim friend today. Upon exiting the cinema, she was annoyed at the character of Paul (yet another white messiah boy) and the appropriation of complex Islam concepts. Unlike her, I had read Dune 1 quite recently, and I thought the movie was a decent summary of (first part) of the book. While reading, I actually enjoyed references to Islam, hoping they were an approachable way to learn about a religion I didn’t know much about.

      One thing I had missed in the film though: where was the word jihad?

      She sent me this article after (kudos to her!), which made her reconsider her opinion on Frank Herbert, if not Denis Villeneuve. Such is what good articles & context do!

      The word they were looking for was “jihad”, a foundational term and an essential concept in the series. But jihad is bad branding, and in Hollywood, Islam does not sell unless it is being shot at.

      Harsh, and I’m afraid this stayed true for the whole film. I can’t recall hearing “jihad”, while some Arabic was represented.

      They reveal an imagination at ease with genocide, with mass death, and with a whitewashed future that does not have any of the “mess” of the contemporary world.

      This statement is too extreme though. I don’t think Villeneuve intentionally imagines genocide to be Islam’s fate… he just doesn’t want to piss off investors. In a much more diluted sense however, the words ring true. Omitting a nuanced view on something culturally considered “bad” (but actually multi-faceted) does not help our world forward. It does not cultivate healthy cross-cultural understanding. This instance reminds me much of The Erasure of Islam from the Poetry of Rumi, and there is probably more Islam-censorship happening in the western world.