I remember watching the Mummy, the movie with Brenden Fraser and Rachel Weisz, was probably the first time in my life that I was exposed to Egypt. The movie was my favorite thing, and I watched it an unholy number of times. I sat transfixed by the magic and majesty; mummies, ancient curses, Gods, the books of life and death. Now, after reading the Hassan’s article “Egypt in the Memory of the World,” I have started to think critically about the positive and negative affects of egypotmemes in popular culture.
On one hand, popular culture representations of Ancient Egypt are extremely untrue and focus on fantastical pieces of “history.” Flipping through the history channel, I remember once coming to a program about ancient aliens and a man was arguing how the pyramids were actually built by aliens. He argued that ancient cultures did not have the technological capabilities of building the pyramids, so therefore it must have been extra terrestrial beings who the Egyptians would later translate into the Gods. From a historical standpoint these stories are ridiculous. Popular culture and representations are driven by the need for entertainment…often in place of the larger truth. The materials we learned in class about the importance of the Nile river and the flood patterns are rarely, if ever, a center of popular culture, despite it’s importance. Instead programs about mummies, curses, the plagues of Egypt, and controversial figures like Cleopatra are the center of attention. In the end, that is what sells. Of course, the consequence of this select information is that Egypt is dramatized and often misunderstood.
Despite all of this, egyptomemes have a positive impact in that they increase people’s interest in discovering more about Egyptian history. Without the popular culture representations of mummies and treasure, Egypt may not have as many people interested in uncovering the truth.