As I sat and watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the version of the Orient we get in this film is quite clear. Played and acted out by Harrison Ford, he was the all-knowing, adventurous, witty, save the day kind of guy, who just happens to be a professor and archaeologist as well. He knew throughout every scene, how to handle a particular situation even though parts of this country were foreign to him.
What makes this Orient stand out even worse is his side kick, Willie, whom he met at the beginning of the movie in a Chinese night club. Kate Capeshaw, better known as Willie, plays the damsel in distress in this one. She plays an irritating dumb blonde who screeches at everything and breaks nails. She makes stupid avoidable mistakes and serves as a meddling stumbling block in Indianas path.
One scene in particular that portrays her as the typical woman of Western society is when Indiana, Shorty, and her leave the village to head to Pankot Palace on elephants. Soon after boarding each of their own elephants, Willie is putting on perfume not only for herself but onto the elephant as well. This is to cover up the animals odor. Miraculously, she just happens to have perfume on her in the middle of India.
As one watches Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, many scenes can be interpreted to represent the Indian culture that Jones, Shorty, and Willie encounter. Although the depiction of this culture seems very real throughout the movie and in certain scenes, the fact of the matter is is that the Indian culture is far from the true reality of life in terms of individual, academic and political levels. In the following paragraphs, I will explain different scenes throughout the movie that destroy the culture and racial background of India.
Upon one of the first scenes that takes place ten minutes into the movie, Spielberg (director of the movie), conveys the country of India to be this weird, bizarre, creepy, forested and semi-cannibalistic jungle. I believe this was a crude and untrue portrayal of this country.
I feel the worst scene of this movie was the dinner scene. Theyre eating out of monkeys skulls and they make the other culture look like complete barbarians. The eyes in the soup, which Willie sees and is mortified by, only makes the portrayal that much worse.
Wrong and misinformed stereotypes also take place when it comes to portraying the Indians as creepy tribal leaders, child rulers who use voodoo dolls, and villains who have human sacrifices and rip peoples hearts out. No reason or explanation is given to these villains; they are simply the big bad voodoo Indians. Its like Spielberg went through the movie and picked out every stupid stereotype he could possibly think of.
Given what I know about Indian art and religion, there are many aspects of the movie that I would change so that India could be represented in a more accurate representation of India. Among those descriptions, include not making the Indian culture look so barbarian. As many of us know and judge, we associate food with culture. Cooked food usually means a sign of civilization while uncooked food signals a sign of barbarianizism. Also, the role of voodoo dolls and child rulers is another clich, as I pointed out earlier.
All in all, I did not realize the stereotypes of this movie until it was brought to my attention. If I had more education about the India culture and way of life, I would probably be more prone to getting upset over different parts of the movie. From doing some research on the Internet, I found that a lot of critics didnt like this movie because of the racist Indian portrayals and stereotypes. Most said that it was an embarrassing blotch on Harrison Fords resume. In my opinion, I believe Spielberg is to blame because my question is as follows: We already have enough hatred, racism, and stereotypes in this world to worry about. Does Spielberg really need to add to it making such movies?