How Moon Knight is Shaping our Understanding of Music
An examination of Disney and its relationship with world cultures
Moon Knight, Marvel’s latest offering dropped on Disney+ on March 30th of this year to a lot of acclaim. As of the time of writing, it’s sitting at 87% on Rotten Tomatoes with an audience score of 92%.
Unlike a lot of other Marvel soundtracks, Moon Knight stands out for its unique sound. The soundtrack has blended the conventional Hollywood cinematic orchestral style with the type of Egyptian scoring that formed the basis of our understanding of what Egypt sounds like thanks to films such as Brendan Fraser’s ‘The Mummy.’
However, whether Moon Knight has really captured an authentically Egyptian sound is debatable. It certainly evokes what we as a Western audience believe to be truly Egyptian while never forgetting to include the type of soaring brass, high-paced strings, and moving choir we’ve become accustomed to. The type of orchestral music we’ve known and loved ever since John Williams made it the standard sound for Hollywood blockbusters ever since his Star Wars score cemented this sound into the public consciousness in 1979.
Unlike with blockbusters gone by, however, Disney made the culturally sensitive decision to hire Egyptian native Hesham Nazih to score the series’ soundtrack.
This reflects Disney’s company-wide efforts in recent years to address public concerns regarding its history of cultural appropriation when making their films.
Disney + Culture
After making Moana under the guidance of Polynesian advisors and including local languages into the score, Disney proved to themselves that there’s money to be made in being culturally aware when making films that include elements of foreign cultures.
Whereas the modern live-action version of Mulan proved that there’s a lot of money to lose when the appropriated culture is almost entirely ignored in the retelling of their story.
For those a little unclear on cultural appropriation, it’s the use of culture, language, and iconography of one culture by another culture. This is commonplace across all forms of media and isn’t itself inherently good or bad.