Stargate movie itself was a sarcasm to the culture and the history of the ancient Egypt. It ignored and belittled all other recognized and respected aspects of the ancient Egyptian society and inaccurately represented the society’s diverse race, ancient religion, and sophistication of arts and science. The makers of the film only took advantage of unsettled interpretations for various aspects of the society. This was possible due to no solid and unbiased written history of the past, allowing assumptions to fill in the gaps. Many audiences may have taken the representation as a joke, but I felt like the movie makers considered the whole history and the existence of the ancient Egyptians as a joke.
The Ancient Egypt is one of the first civilizations, and its pyramids are considered as one of the seven wonders of the world. Although the colors of paintings have faded and structures have been deteriorated by time, enough hieroglyphs and structure remain for us to draw some conclusions about politics, religious and social aspects. However, the movie does not take any of the details into consideration. For example, according to surviving structures, corridors and chambers inside temple/pyramids are decorated with sophisticated texts and drawings, describing the achievements and deeds of the deceased. Drawings are full of representative objects and people, such as the gods, the water lily, and sun rays, and they are painted with colors found in nature. However, the movie had none of them. The walls inside the pyramids were blank. Only some aspects of the pyramid were decorated with ancient Egyptian-like arts, as if the producers thought that the mimics of the art were enough to show the richness of the Egyptian culture. Instead of showing efforts to create a plausible replica of the architecture, the movie ignores all the details and describes the pyramids to be the production of aliens.
The video shows the internal walls of the pyramid, where none of the walls have decorations of drawings or writings.
Were these depictions used because some strong advocates of the western civilization did not want to admit that one of the greatest civilizations in the ancient world did not come from Europe, but from Africa—where the contemporary society is chaotic, marked by political, economic, and social instability? I think that there was also a sense of white superiority idea involved. I remember reading and discussing about the idea of “Orientalism” in the West, where the idea was created to symbolize European dominance over the East during the Western civilization’s rapid development towards the modern society. Whatever the truth was, the history and facts of the East was able to be manipulated without the West losing their superiority. And this ideology was able to endure to this current day by being created as a solid body of theory and knowledge by many generations of Western scholars. There is no doubt that the producers of the movie was influenced by this idea; it seemed like the movie was denying the fact that the ancient Egyptians could have possibly built the great pyramids but it must have been the aliens who built it. Some may say that I’m being unfair to the movie producers by taking their “imagination” too seriously, but why isn’t there any imagination regarding alien involvement in the construction of the Greek civilization, or the Roman civilization? In addition, there is no movie produced in the West that mocks the history or the presence of the Greek civilization, and the Roman civilization. Is this because the country of production knows that the movie will cause damages to its politics, economy and foreign relations by insulting the Europeans? If this is the case, then is the US publicly disdaining Egypt’s current power, and considering the foreign relations with Egypt not as important compared to relations with other countries?
When this movie was produced, the US was involved in warfare with Iraq. Despite the fact that the main subject of this movie was the Egyptian culture, the movie was using the Egyptian cultural products to reflect upon the ideas that was prevalent in US: the impossibility of overthrowing a dictatorial regime without American intervention, the country’s deep interest in aliens and the suspicion of the secrecy of the government. In addition, it may have been trying to use mass media to justify America’s action of war against all the criticisms regarding Iraq war. Also, the movie may have been used as a medium to express indirect sarcasm to the middle eastern culture, and the Arabian race; When the indigenous people were holding guns, it reminded me of the terrorists and Iraq war. The movie also represented the whole race as uneducated, ignorant and illiterate who requires help from the whites—well educated, developed and intelligent beings—and their science to get them out of their own trouble, and that they are grateful of it.
I believe that there should be a mutual respect between religions and cultures. But the movie disregarded any possible respect to tell its own story. This is an utterly inconsiderate action, because the inaccurate historical depictions prevent people who knows little about the ancient Egyptian society from seeing the civilization without bias. History should be learned without prejudice, but several representations were violating this crucial idea. For example, in the movie, the gods are aliens. To the ancient Egyptians, their religion and their gods were everything. It defined their life values, ideology and their way of life. The religion and gods were part of their life and afterlife. Would those people who saw the movie rather than learn about the true history first be able to consider these values? Would they be able to think beyond their first impression that the gods are aliens? Although the ancient religion is not one of the major religions in the contemporary society, it is right to respect the religion and their gods, just like we respect gods of all other religions.
Adding on to the arguments regarding religions, when one of the god was brought down, Daniel, the main character, told the indigenous people to look at their gods to prove that they are no different from them. The only difference was the possession of technology. Thus, the religion that these people were so devout to was the creation of aliens which tricked people into thinking that they are superior than humans. The depictions were stating that the religion that served as the core center of the civilization for centuries was a lie and a deceit.
Ra, the god of the sun, is the most important deity throughout the ages. However, the movie makers also dismissed the respect of Ra. They represented him as an alien who forces respect from his subjects through his power—technology. Does this mean that anyone who has the most powerful technology can be god? Does it mean that there is no more ancient god, but only technology? Or is it that even the greatest civilization, represented by Ra, is nothing compared to the new power, represented by technology, or the modern knowledge, represented by Daniel? Is it trying to indirectly tell the viewers that it is the new power that rules over the world? To the ancient Egyptians, mocking Ra is similar to mocking Jesus, God, Allah, Buddha and other gods of other religions. Thus, I thought it was very disrespectful and rude to the culture of the ancients. In addition, Ra’s necklace meant the ultimate power of the universe; the indigenous people thought Daniel was the god when he was wearing it, and even the god Ra demanded Daniel to prove to the indigenous people that himself is the one and only god in order to save his friends. However, at the end, the necklace did not return to the people of Egypt, but it went back to the western civilization. Does this imply that the ultimate power of universe now lies in the west?
The whole film was disrespectful not only to the current Egyptian culture, but also to the current Egyptians. The producers of the movie overlooked every aspect of the Egyptian culture that was superior to the western civilization; they dismissed the fact that it was once an empire with sophisticated art, science, cult, language, text and architecture. The movie manipulated the image of the Ancient Egypt in order to promote the popular ideas in the US. Although I do advocate for the freedom of the movie producers to be able to tell any story, I believe that the producers should also respect and be appropriate about manipulating the image of another culture.