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My grievance with Dune as an Arab

My grievance with Dune as an Arab

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TheOGAngryMan

Common complaint..... The fremen in the book are Zen-Sunni literally....Buddhist Muslims. The "main story" is also based off Lawrence of Arabia...so fremen=Arabs


oggie389

They are basically real life Druze, except the fremen would then be Zen-christ-shia-plato-pythagorous-zoroastrian.


TheOGAngryMan

My dad is Druze😉


BettyWight

This is probably going to be downvoted all to hell but remember: Al Andaluz was Spain. We have significant Middle Eastern and North African DNA.


Treefrogprince

I will defend this portrayal, but only a little. It is hinted in the book that the Fremen are direct cultural descendants of Arabs. But, keep in mind that 8000 years have passed. They clearly aren’t Muslim, and only use Arabic words sporadically. There is a lot of mixing of bloodlines in 8000 years. I was honestly just pleased that the actors weren’t all Caucasian. Yes, it would have been nice to include more Middle Eastern actors.


VoiceofRapture

It's actually 21000 years that have passed (10191 is in the Imperial calendar). Also the Fremen aren't Muslim, but rather a syncretic Buddhislamic sect.


imforion

To be specific, zen Buddhist & Sunni Muslim


[deleted]

wait, the book says that? That makes no sense. You can't be a Zen Buddhist and a Sunni Muslim. They have fundamental core disagreements, like the existence of a soul or the existence of god and an afterlife, etc. ​ Uggh. I enjoyed the movie but I'm starting to think there might be a lot of parts of the book that are left unsaid.


Wonderwombat

By the time of dune, there has been a second and even a third 'Muhammad', with the third creating the third Islamic movement which saw the birth of the Zensunni


[deleted]

That sounds really silly. I don't suppose the book bothers to talk about how either the second or third Muhammads come to understand there is no god and no soul? Or how the Zensunnis come to believe in God?


dodecatron

it’s 10000+ years in the future… Muhammad was 1400 years ago, Jesus 2000 ago. So it’s pretty far removed.


harrysaxon

They don’t get into many details, but remember, this is WAY in the future, more than 3 times as far away from today as we are from the construction of the pyramids. Religion can change a lot in that amount of time, and it seems clear that Herbert used the idea that some religions would fuse over time for whatever reason. The “Orange Catholic Bible” shows a merging of Protestant and Catholic Christianity as well. Whether Herbert had enough knowledge to pick Zen and Sunni for particular reasons or just thought Zensunni sounded good I have no idea. In addition, a large part of the Bene Gesserit’s work over this time was manipulating and twisting religions to their own ends, gradually and over many generations. Paul isn’t really the religious messiah of the Fremen; the Bene Gesserit just planted the idea centuries earlier as a potential tool. This relationship between the Order and religion is arguably the biggest part religion plays in the books, and it’s not hard to believe that they had something to do with the origins of the Zensunni as well. A character in a later book is Zensunni, but they mostly speak about it as a philosopher would, not a person of faith.


loves_grapefruit

There are so many things in our own history which would sound ridiculous to anyone living 10 or 20 thousand years ago.


uneasypenguin

Why couldn't you, in another lifetime on another planet have zen sunni religion? This happens all the time when two cultures collide, people take bits of both religions and assimilate it.. India is a great example of it. You can walk around and find Hindus that believe in Jesus. Jesus in the Hindu temples. Etc I'm sure there are many more examples of this throughout history.


[deleted]

Hindus and Christians both believe in a soul and in god. They have different conceptions of that since Christians believe there is one god that is separate from its creation and Jesus is the son of that god while Hindus believe that all of creation is "god" and there are different avatars of that godhead through rebirth and each of us is a soul that is a part of that godhead etc. but it's not fundamentally opposite from one another and the Christian concept of a trinity could be reconciled with a Hindu concept of a godhead over many thousands of years etc. But either Islam would have to give up god / soul which would make every single aspect of Islam meaningless to the point of no relation whatsoever between a godless soul-less sunnism or else Buddhism would have to adopt these concepts which likewise makes no sense. I suspect the real answer is that the author doesn't know anything about either religion, much less the specific sects of those two religions, etc. Like if the point is that it has evolved for thousands of years to the extent that the current religion has nothing whatsoever in common with anything that those religions stand for now (or the two thousand years before now that they have existed) then it seems pretty silly to single out sunnism and zen, like why?


uneasypenguin

I think we are arguing over semantics more than anything else. You could take two complete opposite religions and force them together and over time they would likely rub off on one another, how about all the references between pagan and modern christianity.. two totally different religions. See how many books have been written about the parallels of Buddhism and christianity? I doubt it was the author was uneducated I think this is more of an issue that you need to use your imagination. I mean how come they fight with swords for god sakes when they have guns and spaceships.. nobody asked that question yet. It's not impossible that two religions with conflicting perspectives could eventually commingle and split and create its own entity. Maybe the author admired certain traits of either religion and decided to combine them?


[deleted]

My point (which I'm probably not going to say again after this because it's starting to seem pointless) is that combining the two would require both of them to be radically transformed, drop all their core beliefs, and then have nothing whatsoever in common with their origin religion. Sure, this could happen over thousands of years though it's worth nothing that these religions have existed for thousands of years already and have come into contact with loads of other religions already and have experienced many changes, but at no point have either of them dropped their key central core belief (Allah and Muhammad in Islam, the nonexistence of the soul in Buddhism). But sure, let's say they do. That means that the author chose to say that in the future sometimes that religion would change so radically that they have no relation to their original religions EXCEPT that they use the same word (zen sunni) which I think is a really silly literary choice. I'm sure the truth is just that he liked the aesthetics of these religions. This is not a new thing in sci fi- directors and authors use the aesthetics of foreign (to them) religions about which they know nothing all the time. See the Jedi or Vulcans. And the similarities between Buddhism and Christianity are the sort of shared features you find in all spiritual traditions- charity, compassion, sacrifice, etc.


NapkinOfDemands

I think it's less of a stretch than you are making it out to be. First, we have already seen religions change in such ways that the current form would be unrecognizable to early practitioners. The current conception of Christ is a good example of religion evolving. Look up the origin of Christmas. It was literally invented to give credence to a certain view of Christ's humanity. Also, while there isn't necessarily a God in Buddhism, the way some sects venerate boddishatvas and other figures is close enough to deificiation as to make the difference purely semantic. Not unreasonable to imagine this could evolve and change through a couple steps in 10k years. There is also a lot to religions beyond core beliefs: history, ritual, etc. You might also look into proto-Indo-European religion, which covers early systems of belief which evolved into and heavily influenced a series of other religions before eventually resulting in Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc. More importantly though, it's science FICTION, and not hard sci-fi at that! Treat its predictions on the future of religion like you might treat Harry Potter as a high school study guide.


Zaihron

Aren't Sufi Muslims already hugely influenced by Buddhism?


[deleted]

It's a mystical branch of Islam that's influenced by a lot of different Central Asian / Middle Eastern traditions with prophets (Jesus and Muhammad were not the only prophets of mystery religions of course just the most famous and enduring). As Sufism grew and expanded over the centuries, there was some influence and interaction with Hindu cultures. But I do not know of it having any contact with Buddhism as it had died out in most of those regions before Islam ascended, and in the places where it still existed, Islamic conquerers from the more mainstream sects ended it. But obviously in Afghanistan and Persia generally those cultures had Buddhist heritage so I'm sure there might've been some influence (not one causing the other, but a sort of interaction) but Sufism has always been about secret mystical practices to worship god which has nothing at all to do with Buddhism and is in direct contradiction to it. Muhammad and one god are core features of all of Islam. As much as people want to get mad at me for saying it here, it's just silly outsider stuff for a Western writer to be like "over thousands of years, these ideas will change so much that they have no resemblance to the current religions therefore I'm going to randomly use these two words and say they mixed". It's dumb. It's ok- scifi sometimes does dumb things. My point was that it seems a good choice of the film to leave that out.


LordChimera_0

Dude, even Christianity didn't survive intact either. There's Mahayana Christianity and Zensunni Catholicism. Heck they even had an ecumenical council with the goal of *fusing of all significant religious thought in human history* which was put in print the *Orange Catholic Bible.* The OCB is also known as the *Koranjiyana Zenchristian Scriptures*, the *Accumulated Book*, or the *Zenchristian Navakoran*.


[deleted]

Look I understand that you and the other fans here are saying "it was a long time and all the religions changed so much that they are completely unrecognizable from their origin religion and have no similarities whatsoever with them anymore except the names of those religions". I get that. I'm saying that's a really silly choice for an author to make.


Elm0xz

Yet you give no convincing argument apart from that your understanding of "sunni" and "zen" makes you uncomfortable when these two words are connected together. Even if it happens allegedly 20 000 years in the future.


Treefrogprince

Thanks. I thought it was longer, but was too lazy to check.


Suicidemcsuicideface

Only takes ten thousand years to change skin color.


fixius33

Really? Was there a study on this??


Suicidemcsuicideface

Yes. One looking at migration into turkey from Africa and another based on English migrations, I think.


catcatdoggy

What matters is how they are coded in the book.


midnightarauder99

I agree, I wrote this because I loved the movie and I wanted people like me to be included or acknowledged


NecromancyBlack

There might have been much more diversity among the people of Arrakis in the past but I believe the Prequal books had it so what eventually became the Fremen was one particular group or tribe that eventually took over. Also religions as a whole in the Dune universe have changed a lot from what they are today and most of them god merged into the "Orange Catholic Bible" which is much less mythical about god and heaven and more about how one should live and have a good soul. Primarily it seems to be a tool to keep a feverish fear and/or hatred of thinking machines alive in humanity.


rokujoayame731

The deal with this is Dune is HUGE RICH story. I'm a Muslim and I listened to a podcast about Dune the books. I was excited because this whole series basically goes far beyond our scope of what humanity is as we living in this time great detail. By the time, Paul enters the picture, there has been so much human evolution, technological advances & space travel that if we, humanity now, looked at the humans in Dune, we would probably sh*t our pants. We are just walking in on one part of the Dune series. This was used because people were familiar with the old 1980s? Dune movie. I like the older movie yet the new one is dazzingly beautiful. Dune is far more than this part in the movie and even the stories before the Paul arc are surreal because they tell about the history & evolution of Mankind. Trust me, things are going to blow your mind when you get a chance to read the books.


Treefrogprince

I’ll add. People have suggested that the inspiration for the story was partly from the writing of T.E. Lawrence, a British soldier who worked with Bedouins during WW1. The ‘white savior’ trope is actually destroyed in the books, but I don’t know if it will be in the movie. Certainly, the 1984 version is very deep in white savior vibes. Edit: And I’ll add, even if you did have more Arab actors, Zendaya is still the right choice for Chani….for reasons I don’t think the movie has revealed, so I won’t spoil it.


musashisamurai

Dune the book is very much influenced by Lawrence of Arabia (a film based on T.E. Lawrence) where Paul and Lawrence are both outsiders who get accepted into another culture, and are forced to use that group for their wars. In the recent film, I believe Duncan Idaho paraphrased something from.Seven Pillars of Wisdom, in his opening scene when discussing dreams.


Chubbybellylover888

I'm curious, how is the white saviour trope destroyed in the book? I obviously missed something when I first read it because I felt it was steeped in the whole white saviour trope. Genuine question. I'm about to start the book again so I may find out anyways.


Dinkleberg6401

Spoilers for movie watchers and those who haven't read the books. Paul is a savior in the eyes of the Fremen but it is difficult to see him as a savior from a reader's point of view. Paul is a person who is the result of generations of bloodline manipulation, and has an entire artificial religious prophecy planted on Arrakis before he gets there. From the beginning the idea of him being a genuine savior is muddy at best, since all of the prerequisites are laid out before he gets to Arrakis. Then you look at the actual morality of Paul. By the end of the book he is a borderline ruthless religious leader with a battallion of personally trained death commandos (Feydakin) at his disposal. The same death commandos he uses to allegedly commit brutal acts upon the Harkonnens. While the Harkonnens are generally evil, the acts Paul and his commandos allegedly commit are still quite brutal. When he assaults the Harkonnen and Sardaukar forces at the end of the book, he uses atomics to bypass the shield wall. This is a legally grey act and the book makes it out as such. The use of atomics in general is dangerous as it could have been far more destructive than intended. When Paul claims the Imperial throne for himself, he takes Princess Irulan as a bride. Not only is this against her will, it is a marriage born purely out of political necessity. Finally, the book leaves us with the haunting notion that Paul's visions of a holy war will come true, all as a result of his own actions. This clearly does not depict Paul as a savior, but rather as a usurper and manipulator, even if his enemies were morally bankrupt and evil. The only way Paul could be viewed as a savior is from the perspective of the Fremen, who prosper as a result of Paul's leadership. This is not just incidental either, the whole point of the Dune saga is to bring to light the dangers of charismatic leaders, and the pitfalls of messiah figures. Edit: This can obviously be argued since the white savior trope is not just limited to the perspective of the reader but also the perspective of different characters as well.


Echleon

So I get why a lot of people say that Dune is meant to show the dangers of charismatic leaders, and it's certainly true with Paul, but what about his son? Leto oppresses the universe for thousands of years because he believes it will save humanity. And afaik, he's not shown to be wrong.


Dinkleberg6401

Of course it saves the universe, the question is whether or not the steps he took to bring the Golden Path to fruition were justifiable. That's up to the reader to decide.


Echleon

But what is there really to decide? Without the Golden Path humanity would go extinct. There's not really an alternative.


Treefrogprince

Paul spends the whole book trying to NOT be the leader of a Jihad. He sees future possibilities and tries to thread the path to the one that won't ruin everything, but as he goes on there are fewer and fewer ways to prevent the Jihad. In the end, everyone around him keeps pushing him in the direction of 'saving' the Fremen and in the end he ends up the leader of a Jihad that will scour the universe with endless war.


thymeraser

Totally agree. The Bene Gesserit should be represented by actors who are practicing Catholics.


[deleted]

OK I'm really new to this too and just saw the movie last night. I got all the Lawrence of Arabia stuff. But I did not realize that in the book's universe, the Fremen were literally descendents of Arabs. How does that work? I mean, it doesn't matter to the movie really, but why in the world would one group of people from contemporary earth end up settling another planet and then it's just a coincidence that this other planet has a desert similar to the Arabian peninsula so that the people have to adopt dress/traditions similar to the Beduine (which are already changing now in the 21st century) even though it's thousands upon thousands of years in the future? Like that makes no sense at all. I just assumed it was a totally made up people in a made up world in a made up future that had no connection to the current earth at all and we just hand wave similarities like with star wars. Like, at no point in star wars does Han Solo say "I'm a descendent of a 19th century American frontier cowboy" because that would just make no sense.


Grig_

>000 No, Herbert just assumed that two cultures developing in the same conditions would eventually share some similarities.


Hassoonti

In the book the Freeman say they are from Misr originally, Egypt. In the prequel‘s they are described as just one group of zensunni buddislamics Who settled their 10,000 years before the first book. All of their words are Arabic. It’s pretty obvious they are supposed to be very Arabic. To have all that Arabic stuff and not cast any Arabs is the definition of cultural appropriation.


ZamanthaD

Dune takes place in 10191 AG, not AD. 10191 AG is around 22000 AD.


dunkmaster6856

18000* years have passed


SsurebreC

Fremen looked a lot like Bedouin because they ARE based on Bedouin both in the look & feel and the traditions (down to the value of tea pots). As far as casting, you are rarely going to have perfect casting. To start, during the events of Dune, Paul is 14. Chani is 13. You think we'll get perfect casting? (Timothee/Zendaya are 25). Secondly, Fremen don't exist on Earth so, if you want to be true to the source, casting cannot be made. As far as using Bedouin actors, how many are available, fit the part, can act the part, and make a good fit? My guess? Not enough to have made it into the movie. Don't forget that casting stars brings butts into seats. For example, how many people are going to see the movie mostly because one of the A-listers is in it? If you hire a bunch of no-name actors for important roles, you won't get the same return on investment. If you're worried about representation, check out Dune 1984. This cast is good enough compared to what we've had in the past.


dingoegret12

It's not about simulating thousands of years of fiction in your head and coming to a correct representation. This is just nonsense lawyer talk. The Fremen are supposed to represent Arabs. That's the allegory of the books. The empire and many other factions have direct comparisons with other historical Middle Eastern civilizations. You simply cannot leave out Middle Eastern people from this movie, but they did.


SsurebreC

What Middle Eastern actors were available for the key roles?


dingoegret12

I don't have so much a problem with casting Middle Eastern actors as I do the insipid erasure of Middle Eastern culture that underpins the fiction. "Desert power!" wtf? Hollywood has no problems with spooky Arabic words when it comes time to have Ali Bin Sadaq Wa Lamine blow up his suicide vest in the next box office political drama.


haytil

>As far as casting, you are rarely going to have perfect casting. To start, during the events of Dune, Paul is 14. Chani is 13. You think we'll get perfect casting? The issue being raised isn't the the characters don't match the description of the book - it's that this is one of the few opportunities for a specific underrepresented minority to be well-represented in casting and still be faithful to the book - and yet that opportunity was passed by. >Secondly, Fremen don't exist on Earth so, if you want to be true to the source, casting cannot be made. Oh, come on. If Ken Watanabe or James Earl Jones had been cast as Duke Leto - and then people objected that he wasn't cast with a white actor - would you be making the argument that "Atreides don't exist on Earth, so if you want to be true to the source, casting cannot be made?" > As far as using Bedouin actors, how many are available, fit the part, can act the part, and make a good fit? My guess? Not enough to have made it into the movie. Do you really not believe that stellar acting talent can be found within every minority group? Is acting really something inherent to specific races? >Don't forget that casting stars brings butts into seats. For example, how many people are going to see the movie mostly because one of the A-listers is in it? If you hire a bunch of no-name actors for important roles, you won't get the same return on investment. Ahhh, the old "butts in seats" argument, used to justify the perpetuation of the vicious cycle that is white supremacy in Hollywood. "Studios want to get butts in seats, so they should only cast A-Listers, and it just so happens that most A-listers are white. So let's just keep on casting ~~white people~~ A-listers. They're not perpetuating under-representation, they're just getting butts in seats!" (And then when you want to cast an unknown in your starring role, to save some money, you pick someone who *reminds* you - and the audience - of a pre-existing ~~white person~~ A-lister, hoping that you're getting an up-and-coming A-lister - and so the cycle continues). Come on. Aside from the weak morality of such an argument, the fact is that the casting of the Fremen parts wasn't a make-or-break decision for anyone deciding to go see "Dune." Nobody said "I'm on the fence....there are eight A-listers on that cast sheet. Who's the ninth name - is it another A-lister? If not, my butt is staying out of that seat!" Get real. Hey, you know what gets butts in seats? Shorter run-times. But I bet you'd be crying foul if "Dune" was only 90 minutes long. >If you're worried about representation, check out Dune 1984. This cast is good enough compared to what we've had in the past. Really dude? "Someone else did it worse 35 years ago, so there really was no need for further improvement." I get it. As long as you can find a worse counter-example that's decades old, there really should be no pressure to make things any better.


dunkmaster6856

Oscar isaac isnt white and was cast as duke leto


haytil

You should look up "passing."


dunkmaster6856

Aaaaah i see, theyre white or not white depending on which narrative youre pushing.


haytil

Show most white people a picture of Oscar Isaac and ask them if he's white. They'll say "Yes." That's not a "narrative" and I'm not "pushing" anything. That's just how the artificial social construct of "race" works. Educate yourself.


dunkmaster6856

*show most americans Only americans say stupid racebaiting shit like this along with the moronic “educate yourself zomg” Why dont you educate yourself, because people who that line are typically the least qualified people to say it


Sindigo_

Ok but Javier Bardem and Zendaya could technically “pass” as Arab 🤷. Can’t we just agree that portrayal is what’s important here?


haytil

>Ok but Javier Bardem and Zendaya could technically “pass” as Arab 🤷. Are you white? I can't imagine someone of color making the argument that "Well they look like they could pass as Arab, so for the purposes of representation and inclusion, they might as well be Arab, and that's good enough" and not realize how fucked up that position is. > Can’t we just agree that portrayal is what’s important here? No, we can't just agree that that's what is important here - and the fact that you think this is all that matters is simply demonstrating how much of the point you are completely failing to comprehend. "Dune" isn't a movie made in a vacuum. It's made with real-world dollars in a real-world society where real-world people, real-world audiences, and real-world racial dynamics are in play, and real-world consequences for power, representation, and inclusivity rear their head.


[deleted]

[удалено]


Laura_has_Secrets77

Plus, I'm sure the film series would get a ton of flack for casting the group of people who later go on to >!conduct a bloody, religious based war!< as exclusively Arab/MENA. Edit to add: I still agree there should be casting of MENA, but just not exclusively have all of the Fremen be casted by MENA actors.


ABaadPun

Earth isn't even inhabited, this is so far in the future that race doesn't really matter, like that's not a concept. People are defined wholesale by their planet.


haytil

He's talking about the actors who were in the film. The film was made on Earth, in the present day.


ABaadPun

Yeah so it doesn't matter the exact cast because the Fremen aren't an exact correlation to a specific ethnic group.


Jabuhun

Ah, here we go about that "science fiction has absolutely no relation to our present whatsoever" bs again The Fremen are obviously based on Bedouin culture. Not having done actual Bedouins play them is a missed chance.


ABaadPun

How related are you to your ancestors of 8000 years ago? What were their names, what did they look like, and how did they sound. Maybe if you read the book you'd be informed enough not to sound like a snarky blob.


TheScarletCravat

Problem is is that the logic then has to flow both ways - why are house Atreides uniformly coded as being white? You can imagine there'd be a lot of online discord if they weren't. Suddenly the exact arguments seen here for the ethnicity of the Fremen would come into play, but without the same defensive interrogation. Arguments for them not being Arabic because of wanting to avoid on the nose white saviour complex stuff is understandable, though.


ABaadPun

it doesnt matter that atredies are white and they could be brown or yellow for all the impact it would have on story, in fact, its really only in dune, the first book that most of the atredies are coded white, the rest are either of mixed Caladan and Arakis blood or incredibly transhuman to the point where lineage doesnt matter.


TheScarletCravat

Which is my point - it doesn't matter, but they nevertheless *are*, because the story is being told in present day for a present day audience and trying to articulate a present date concept.


haytil

>it doesnt matter that atredies are white and they could be brown or yellow for all the impact it would have on story, Nobody's talking about the "impact it has on the story," they're talking about the impact that Hollywood casting has on our own culture and artistic representations of said story. > in fact, its really only in dune, the first book that most of the atredies are coded white The film only covers "Dune," the first book.


dunkmaster6856

Because shockingly a majority white country will pander to their biggest viewing group Its a story made in western culture, and the west os extremely white irl. I know racist like you dont like that but thats reality Also, can you not see the problematic implications of casting only middle easterners for an in movie group that goes on an horrifyingly destructive intergalactic jihad?


haytil

>Because shockingly a majority white country will pander to their biggest viewing group > >Its a story made in western culture, and the west os extremely white irl. I know racist like you dont like that but thats reality Racists like me? You are the one implying that white people cannot - and refuse to - enjoy a movie unless the cast is overwhelmingly, if not totally, white. >Also, can you not see the problematic implications of casting only middle easterners for an in movie group that goes on an horrifyingly destructive intergalactic jihad? I didn't see a horrifyingly destructive intergalactic jihad in that movie. Did you?


InternetComputerName

> Problem is is that the logic then has to flow both ways - **why are house Atreides uniformly coded as being white?** You can imagine there'd be a lot of online discord if they weren't. Suddenly the exact arguments seen here for the ethnicity of the Fremen would come into play, but without the same defensive interrogation. They aren’t though? House Atreides is portrayed very diverse Main actors are -Leto - Latino -Jessica - white -Paul - white -Duncan - pacific islander -Gurney - white -Thufir - African American -Yueh - Asian Rank and file Atreides troops I didn’t notice either way The ironic bit is if the Fremen were cast only as Arabic, then later movies in the franchise could be accused of being racist bc of the coming jihad in the story.


TheScarletCravat

I meant the family, specifically. My point being that they're not a racially ambiguous mix due to thousands of years of racial mixing. We're in agreement about other reasons being fair for the casting choices. My issue is specifically with the argument about race being irrelevant due to the time, which just comes across as weak.


InternetComputerName

I see your point. There are a lot of copouts when it comes to racial diversity in scifi, but imo Dune is not a major offender in this regard. The Atreides are described as having “hawk like” features and being “olive skinned.” They have a definite Greek or Roman vibe, but the whole thing with the Old Duke and the bull makes me personally think of Catalonia or Spain. Anyway, I personally feel like the Dune books mash together ethnicity and creed and religion on purpose, which is only reinforced by the whole BG breeding plan plot and the idea of the metahuman / Kwizats Haderach / Messiah being the result of 1000s of years of breeding selection across all of humanity. So in this case, for these books, the Houses and peoples are more of an amalgamation of ethnicities than anything. Despite the initial feeling of a familiar “white savior” trope, I don’t think it persists through the book series, but I’m open to the conversation.


Laura_has_Secrets77

And Jessica isn't Atreides either.


haytil

>How related are you to your ancestors of 8000 years ago? What were their names, what did they look like, and how did they sound. Maybe if you read the book you'd be informed enough not to sound like a snarky blob. If *you'd* read the book, you'd know that the Fremen language sounds a hell of a lot like that of their Arab ancestors.


metatron5369

Actually, 8000 years ago is smack dab in the middle of estimates for the identical ancestors point. That is to say, where the set of ancestors is the same for every living human being.


ABaadPun

Maybe you should read a history book while you're at it.


Jabuhun

The point isn't in-universe. The point is that science fiction is always written here and now and acts as a metaphor for here and now. Using the appropriate images for said metaphors would work well. There are obviously no actors and actresses from a few thousand years in the future, so you're always stuck with people that exist, so you'll have to use the ones that serve as an image of the thing you're trying to communicate, whether you want it or not. What even is your point here?


ABaadPun

You can't even follow your own logic, the concepts are important, not the actors. The present parallels you should be drawn towards are ecology, oil, and climate. It's utterly beyond me why you're fixated on ethnic and race when that has nothing to do with anything in the book, that's all you projecting, since the Fremen are a fictional people inspired by a multitude of things and not a direct analogue. hell, they're only desert dwelling people for part of the series, by the third book most of their culture has changed and the old ways are being forgotten by a softer generation.


dingoegret12

They can't stand Middle Easterners being represented at all that they literally have to lawyer-talk their way through this bs. "well technically its da future!".


Vasevide

Sometimes fiction is fiction


haytil

>Yeah so it doesn't matter the exact cast because the Fremen aren't an exact correlation to a specific ethnic group. Your argument falls apart when you look at the fact that the Fremen customs and language are clearly centered on Arabic culture.


ThePowaBallad

With a lot of Buddhism added in too Oh and the fact that much of the culture can develop independently of Arabic cultures (there are similar cultural items and processes in other desert regions) but they do have Bedouin inspiration too However in the book I believe they're polish descended and it was to make a point that cultures unrelated to bloodline can develop after moving to a desert planet for thousands of years


Hassoonti

In the book they say they are from Misr, aka Egypt. All of their words are Arabic. That’s not something climate determines. Something climate *does* determine is how people look. So, you need people who look like they’re from the desert and speak Arabic? Get Arabs.


dingoegret12

So why aren't the Fremen cast as a bunch of apes? Why aren't they parrots? Stop with this silly correlation to reality argument. This is just a fallacy from head to toe. Every fiction is built on suspension of belief and gives way to plausible assumptions. Assumptions like the idea the author pushed that many of the factions in Dune are supposed to represent Middle Easterners. You people are really trying to lawyer talk your way through this. Quit the bs.


Paraphilos

Gosh this sub is a little cringeworthy. I love the story as much as anyone else but the logic people are trying to muster up to defend the casting choices is a bit ridiculous. The OP’s point is entirely valid: this film (which I believe is going to be a highly popular sci fi epic) would have been a great opportunity to include actors of Arabic origin. Positive representation makes a huge difference to these people who are unfortunately looked down upon by so many in the west, and for all the wrong reasons.


dingoegret12

I'm still unable to properly process the logic they are using to cope with this erasure of Arab culture. It's like we have to start all over from fundamentals to explain how representation works. I'm so tired


Paraphilos

Yeah, this is it. People seem to already have a view on this (“The casting is fine! Quit your complaining!”) and then selectively curate ‘evidence’ to fit that view. In any case, a wider point from me would be that the author does not have sole ownership over their art; there shouldn’t be any issue with filmmakers taking some liberty with the “author’s intentions” (which are debatable anyway, I don’t think FH would have objected to a more diverse cast at all; he probably would have welcomed it)


dingoegret12

I actually don't have a problem with the casting. But the insipid erasure of Middle Eastern culture that is the very soul of the fiction just shows me Hollywood still hates Arabs more than anything else. It just has to hurt us now without inspiring progressive backlash. A step up from suicide belts. But damn is the standard low. FH wouldn't have a problem with casting, from a practical pov, but would definitely have a problem with the cultural erasure. You simply cannot have Dune without Middle Eastern/Oriental culture. The arguments from other people saying that imagery doesn't matter and only abstract ideas like "holy war bad" is what stories are told for, is specious beyond belief. Even if that was true, then why not just film a blank screen and show words conveying these trite concepts? You can't have a story about how unique groups of humans interact culturally without the specific cultures that have informed these ideas. Beyond the obvious cold war allegory to oil, FH made extended stays in the Middle East. He read philosophical works from Ibn Khaldun; included his writing in his own work. He respected Islamic history and was fascinated with Middle Eastern culture. Every faction in Dune is in some way heavily influenced by that culture. The abstract ideas in the book are informed by his cultural experiences. Wiping that out would have been seen as an anathema by FH.


NYC_hydra

Remember that it's 8000 years in the future. Any references to real cultures are meant to be artifacts from the past. It makes sense that not everyone in a culture that might have Arabic roots doesn't look fully Arabic. Especially since African cultures have Arabic influences in real life.


MarionSwing

>8000 years 21000* years


williamtan2020

I know watchu mean but Oded Frer is just too good looking, btw I think Bardem can play anyone. Just hv to wait and see how Zendaya goes.


Treefrogprince

Zendaya is 25 and already has a well deserved Emmy playing a messed up drug addict, after starting out as a teenager in the Disney machine. I think she has proven herself.


wrystarspark

Arabic religious terrorists. (Unfortunate real world parallels) Dune was written before 9/11 so the world (read USA) didn't see 'Islamic' extremism as such a controversial issue. Similarly Herbert used Jihad which has been changed to Holy War due to Jihads current connotations for the public. Basically, they don't want to be called racist or Islamophobic by the Internet. Though its arguably more racist to not cast Arabic/North African looking (native or descendants) because that's what people with ancestors from hot climates look like. Many people won't think carefully enough to realise this though. The issue is a white terrorists is a 'terrorist who happens to have white skin' but because of their past misrepresentation an Arabic terrorist is seen as a 'Arabic person therefore terrorist'


Best-Refrigerator347

Currently reading the book with my Palestinian husband and the amount of Arabic used is incredible. I think it was an opportunity wasted to not cast more Arab or middle eastern people in the movie.


neuronamously

I grew up around a lot of Arabs who had literally grown up reading Dune. I had two close friends, one whose family was from Jordan and one from Egypt who were obsessed with Dune. We played Dune 2000 nonstop together through dial up over 14.4kbps modems and 56k when that came out. We read the whole book series. With that said, Dune treads the line of cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation. It was clear that Frank Herbert was very obsessed with Arab culture and language. Dune is like an homage to Arab civilizations. He was also interested in the oil industry geopolitics and how it impacted that part of the world. All of that rolled into Dune. Take Dune as what it is. It is an excellent story in 1965. It's the story of a white savior coming to the rescue of arab people, which doesn't sound very 2021. But in the end, it is a period piece and a very good one at that. If you can accept the progressive elements of the writing for the time, then it makes it easier to digest.


Y_Brennan

It's not the story of a white saviour and it never has been. The Fremen Don't need to be "saved" they are doing fine. And Paul makes everything worse so he is definitely not a saviour


neuronamously

This is true. The **SPOILER ALERT** truth is that Paul is not the hero that the reader thinks he is in the end. But for the purpose of the first book he is a neo/Luke skywalker savior, or is perceived to be.


Y_Brennan

Not really by the end of the first book you can understand that Paul might not be that great


catcatdoggy

Common complaint. Wouldn’t go over well in America if Dune was seen as an allegory for Afghanistan. Which itself lends to other interpretations that aren’t popular. Unfortunately because of this Arabs will be shafted for representation. I would have loved it myself because obviously when you read Dune this is what you picture.


Chubbybellylover888

Well that's good because Arabs don't come from afghanistan.


sidv81

I also would have liked to see actors of Middle Eastern descent play the Fremen. Navid Negahban could've been Stilgar for example.


Automatic-Cap-5258

I totally respect what you're saying. What can I do as a reader of Dune to be more respectful to the cultures if has elements based off of?


Hassoonti

Um…. I don’t know. I mean, I’m upset about the representation, but I still saw the movie and loved it. So, I guess just make the case online, and spread the word so fans will expect some better casting in the sequel?


UncleWillard5566

You're not wrong. I was surprised they didn't cast more Arabic or Saharan people as Fremen. It would make more sense. The origins of the Fremen are partly Arabic, though that is not in the original novel I don't believe, but in the prequels Herbert's son (and another writer) wrote. Still, it would have made more sense to have Arabs portraying Fremen. Also, they went to the trouble of casting a black woman as Kines vs. a white man per the book (diversity hire - no issues from me; doesn't matter to the story), but overlooked an opportunity to cast more Arabs in obvious roles. Minor criticism. Loved the movie.


Y_Brennan

Kynes isn't a white man his ethnicity is never stated except for the fact that he has a Fremen mother make of that what you will


Blue_Three

Just gonna drop this here for some more visibility. https://www.tor.com/2021/10/18/the-muslimness-of-dune-a-close-reading-of-appendix-ii-the-religion-of-dune/


Eu_Gravida_Vendatur

I mean. I get where you’re coming from, but they weren’t arabs. Anymore than Jason mamoa is English despite speaking it. It’s set 20,000 years in the future.


Hassoonti

In the books they are descended from zensunni Buddislamics, A culture that is all over the galaxy, but this group has spent the last 10,000 years on Arrakis, so they have returned to a Bedouin culture. The major case to be made is that all of their words, and even their cuisine, is Arabic in the book. Frank Herbert even named the planet after the Arabic name for their star. They are clearly supposed to be Arabs. What makes it particularly sensitive is that Arabs have virtually no representation in pop culture. And here we have a franchise with roles specifically created for them, and it erases them instead.


generatedname6

the year: 21000 something the hero: intergalactic space arabs


GodH8sFlags-

Yeah but they're not actually supposed to be Arab. The iconography is just there to evoke a sense of alien foreignness to western audiences. It's probably better that they did not use all Arab actors. If they mimic exactly middle eastern earth conditions it ceases to have that out of world feel


abzantevesh

They’re literally speaking Arabic. The Fremen are absolutely meant to be interpreted as Arabic and we’re a reflection of real world events at the time of Dunes writing. Maud’dib is an Arabic derived word.


GodH8sFlags-

What are you suggesting sir? That they are in fact modern earth human Arabs? Because any other answer to that question, other than a resounding "yes", is reason enough why they do not need to, and should not be expected to be represented by Arab actors.


Hassoonti

Representation matters. Excluding entire races from pop-culture is a form of demonizing and demoralizing them. Hollywood did it to black and Asian people for decades. You can’t have a story about space samurai speaking Japanese without casting any Asians. It makes no sense, Because if there’s any story where you would cast Asians, it would be one about an Asian culture speaking an Asian language. The only reason not to do it is because you are intentionally excluding that race, because there is a taboo and prejudice against that race, and you don’t want to be associated with it. This is what happened with this film. You have an obviously Arabic culture of people who are literally speaking Arabic, and they deliberately excluded the Arabs. It is the only story where the roles were specifically written for them.


OmicronMaleGrindset

The Fremen aren't really based on a single culture, they're an amalgamation of numerous nomadic cultures, both present and past. I also don't think casting any middle eastern actor would properly represent the nomadic cultures of the middle east either, they're pretty distinct and have been in conflict with their sedentary neighbors for centuries. They're relationship with the broader middle eastern world is very similar to the one between mainstream American culture and amerindians, where the stereotypical view of their culture is idolized, yet their wants and needs are often ignored.


Paraphilos

But can’t we have even one Middle Eastern actor? It’s also not just about what the book says; this is a great opportunity to include Arabic people, regardless, they really deserve better roles on the big screen. Doesn’t make sense to me why everyone is so opposed to this 🤷‍♂️


OmicronMaleGrindset

I'm not opposed to the inclusion of middle eastern actors in Dune. I take issue with the framing of the Fremen as being a representation of Middle Eastern culture. It's also important to remember that the movie primarily covered the parts of the novel with little direct Fremen interaction and characters. I'm certain we'll see plenty of middle eastern actors in the sequel.


Paraphilos

Sure that’s fine but if that’s your position then we should perhaps also take issue with framing them as white westerners no? Lol


OmicronMaleGrindset

Who's framing them that way?


Hassoonti

Every one of their words is Arabic. They eat baklava. They migrated as a single group to Arrakis after the butlerian Jihad. They have a Bedouin culture. This is exactly like if there were futuristic space samurai who spoke Japanese, and all the actors were white. Except what Hollywood and videogames usually do is swap Arab for Black or Hispanic, so they can avoid touching Arabs with a 10 foot pole while being praised for their inclusivity.


ZegloryholeOhOhOhOh

i genuinely wish this wasnt a thing that bothered people but it does. the part should go to those who can knock it out the park. i hate this is a thing yet understand your frustration. as a viewer, i only care if the role can be played well by the actor, 0 to do with if they are actually the ethnicity, race, gender, age...xyz. In this case, all of the casting is frigging great and im glad it is the way it is.


Hassoonti

It’s easy not to care about it when it isn’t your group that is systematically excluded, even from the stories where the characters are speaking your language.