Otherness Is a Part of Term Paper

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Because of this piece's genre, Process Analysis, and more specifically as supposedly observed by an anthropologist, Miner gives authority to his words so as to convince the reader that the Nacirema really do behave to such uncivilized extremes.

How does the 13th Warrior approach "otherness?" This film actually takes on the theme from three directions. Interactions between the main character, Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan (hereafter referred to as Ibn) and the Norse tribe he encounters serve as two approaches to "otherness." Likewise, the tribe's suspicion of their enemy, beings who appear to consume without a trace anyone who ventures into the ominous mist, represents the fear of the unknown that is the catalyst for damaging "otherness" perception.

The story is told from Ibn's point-of-view. Following his banishment from his homeland, he decides to fight alongside the tribe to defeat their enemy. In so doing, he ultimately realizes that fear is the reason for animosity on both sides of the mist. Through overcoming his own fears, he is able to turn the tide in favor of the tribe. However, until that time, there are ample demonstrations of the ways in which Ibn's culture and the Norse culture differ. For most of the film, he and the Norsemen see their differences as hindrances to their ultimate success, though the viewer can see Ibn beginning to realize they are all intrinsically human, and afraid of the unknown together.

A scene which shows Ibn's slow-coming realization (as realizations of a perception tainted by "otherness" are often slow) occurs while he is sitting around a fire with the tribe. In the beginning of the scene, he cannot understand their language. Gradually, as the scene progresses, he understands more and more until he is able to make a retort they understand. Having found a common ground and ability to communicate (at least basically), the Norse men laugh at his remark. Perception between Ibn and the tribe gradually becomes more equal following that scene (Mctiernan 1999). One of the strengths of this film is that the theme of "otherness" is presented from the outsider's point-of-view (Ibn). Viewers easily identify with his character and come to the same important realization along with him. Ibn's character exists to guide the viewer into understanding that the fear held by the Norse tribe is not primitive by virtue of its mystical nature -- in fact, it is not primitive by virtue of any nature. It is the very fear which continues to divide cultures across the globe.

Upon careful consideration, the theme of "otherness" becomes clear and present in a number of works, spanning all media that comprise the arts and entertainment. "Body Ritual Among the Nacirema" and the 13th Warrior are strong examples because they each approach the theme in very different styles, genres and media. Each style, genre or type of media is constricted by boundaries -- perhaps it is only by juxtaposition of multiple examples that the theme of "otherness" (or any other studied theme that exists as part of the human condition) comes to light. It may be impossible to completely divest oneself of the fear of the unknown that colors perception and casts a prejudicial lens upon any culture unfamiliar to one's own, but only through the realization of the existence of such a flaw can there be any hope of not being ruled by it.

References

Mctiernan, J. (Director). (1999). The 13th Warrier [Motion Picture]. United States:

Touchstone/Disney.

Miner, H. (1956). Body Ritual Among the Nacirema. In X.J. Kennedy; D. Kennedy; J.

Aaron (Eds.). The Brief Bedford Reader (pp. 268-275). Boston, MA: Bedford/St.…

Sources Used in Document:

References

Mctiernan, J. (Director). (1999). The 13th Warrier [Motion Picture]. United States:

Touchstone/Disney.

Miner, H. (1956). Body Ritual Among the Nacirema. In X.J. Kennedy; D. Kennedy; J.

Aaron (Eds.). The Brief Bedford Reader (pp. 268-275). Boston, MA: Bedford/St.

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