The Premiere of ‘Dune’ Sparks Cultural Appropriation Discussion
Photo: Den of Geek | Dune 2021
Dune brought in a box office of over $200 million dollars, but at what cost to the culture surrounding it?

Dune is a Commercial yet very Critical Success

Dune (2021) film is a science-fiction film directed by Denis Villeneuve that is the first of the two-part adaption of the 1965 novel by author Frank Herbert. The film follows a young man, Paul Atreides played by Timothee Chalamet, who is seen as a very gifted and talented individual who must travel on a mission to a very dangerous planet. All to ensure the safety of his people, family, and their futures, but there are those who get in the way when there is an exploding conflict over the planet’s most valuable resource.

Is Dune Appropriating Islamic and MENA Cultures?

Author Frank Herbert was very open to the influences surrounding this film, where he stated has “Muslim flavor”… “Islam is pretty pervasive throughout the books, and it’s something that was always noticed both by his editors as well as audiences. The most obvious place is obviously the Fremen people themselves, who seem to be sort of inspired by Bedouin, by a lot of the indigenous peoples of northern Africa and the Middle East,” in accordance with CBC Radio.

Users on social media like Twitter and TikTok have been speaking their thoughts on the movie itself surrounding not only the cultural, but religious influences that they feel were watered down or even completely erased. TikToker user @abbytheprince pointed out how the high use of Arabic influences making note of it in his video when responding to comment, “Arabic aren’t the only people to live in sandy places.”

@abbytheprince

Reply to @emmet.brickowski #dune

♬ original sound – Abby

In his following videos, he goes on to explain about people who loved and enjoyed the essence of the film with the wardrobe, the sandy planet, but want to deny the MENA (Middle Eastern and North Africa) influences because of how society portrays Islamic culture so negatively in the media causing so many to dislike the culture. Not allowing for the culture to truly shine through with so much of the audience downplaying the influences that are at the center of the movie.

@abbytheprince

Reply to @brennhh #dune

♬ original sound – Abby

Frank Herbert’s novel, “Dune”, goes into grave detail about the Islamic, Arabic, and Middle Eastern, and North African influence where it includes an extensive glossary of Arabic names, terms, and phrases used or appropriated to build Dune’s world. For example, spice or even melange, the resource that can only be found on Arrakis and is instrumental to interstellar space travel, is a subtle nod and inspiration for crude oil in the Middle East throughout the ’60s.

@trashling

i’m doing this for oscar isaac✋😭 #dune #booktok #fyp

♬ original sound – Baby girl

Even with this much detail in the book, it is barely translated onto the big screen that is obvious with the lack of MENA actors in the film. Almost, ignoring the tremendous writing done by the author led to this cultural appropriation debate on social media. Watering down the film, taking away from its true story and some even say it is just another culturally appropriated white savior story.

@mariam.reads

Enough said🧍🏽‍♀️#Dune #MENA #BookTok #bookish #mariamreads #SamsClubScanAndGo #timotheеchalamet #zendaya #hollywoodstudios

♬ EHE With Slap – 🫀throckmorton🫀