Class Year

2016

Access Type

Vassar Community Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department or Program

Media Studies Program

First Advisor

Eva Woods Peiró

Second Advisor

Sophia Harvey

Abstract

Within the last few decades, cyberpunk has burgeoned in various fields of art, literature, and cinema. “Techno-Orientalism,” the depiction of the “orient” in a digitalized environment, has been a major theme in cyberpunk. In works like Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash (1992) and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982), writers and filmmakers envision an Orientalized future society with a large population of Asians or/and economical dominance of Asia. Entering 21st century, Hollywood continues to take Asia and Asians as part of their envision of future. In these films and fictions, not only fetish for Asian elements, but also anxiety and fear towards the east, known as “yellow peril,” is also shown. This thesis analyzes the “oriental” imagery depicted in Hollywood cinema, especially in the genre of Science Fiction. This thesis would examine contemporary sci-fi films and televisions including Blade Runner and the more recent Battlestar Galactica (2003-07), from different perspectives such as mise-en-scene and gender. My analyses of the oriental in these films are based on social and economical contexts. By doing so, the thesis attempts to find answers to several questions: How is the orient depicted in sci-fi films? What meanings does it indicate? Has the projection of the east in mass media changed? How does the present imagery rework or challenge Edward Said’s notion of Orientalism? If the orient in “techno-space” is different from the past, how does “technology” and “digitalization” function in contemporary oriental imagery? Trying to find answers to these questions or raise more questions concerning techno-orientalism, this thesis attempts to raise awareness to cultural nuance embedded within.

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