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Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People

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Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood vilifies a people

Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People, is a documentary created by author Dr. Jack Shaheen. The film explores how Arab and Muslim stereotyping has been projected on silver screens throughout the history of cinema.  But is the demonisation of Arab peoples really comparable to the vilification of the Jews in the 1930’s? Does combating misrepresentation change anything if the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan are not in question?  Filmed at The Screens of Terror Conference at London South Bank University, this report includes clips from Dr Shaheen’s fascinating work.

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Related topics: Civil Liberties, International

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KirkB said:

If you want to see what islam and muslims are like then look at the way muslims persecute and discriminate against non-muslims in majority muslim countries. Actions speak louder than words.

Say said:

As noted previously on the video of comedy on terror, I believe what is important is not what is shown on Hollywood or silver screens. Viewers should not take at first sight what is shown but to question what has been screened.

Yes, it is a fact that there exist many films that vilify the Arab community and likewise many other films that vilify other communities and cultures, which is wrong both ethically and morally. However, what has been shown is open to interpretation by the audience. The films itself may have an influence on the stereotypes portrayed but only form part of this process.

I sympathize with the Arab community that these handful extremists has caused this stereotype of hate and “inflicting the most causalities as possible” mentality. Despite the small minority, I believe Dr Jack Shaheen fails to acknowledge the scale of effect that the terror attacks post 9/11 has had on society perception; which I believe la significant factor leading to the demonization of their community.

Aisha said:

Really interesting debate, definately conjours up how my own race (black british/carribean/african) have been sterotyped and continually sterotyped. But to see the emalgimation of images that have been publicized in the news, broadcast in popluar tv, and showcased in the cinema, just shows the target of the western world has widen, and keep widening, without debate and discussion like these.

This just show where there is a superiority (or supposed superiorty) there has to be a inferiortiy (supposed inferiority), no law (British Law on Hate Talk) will diffuses from the image one soceity will want to portray another society or people.

Marisa said:

The misconstrued Western stereotypes about Arabs and Muslims have been present in various forms by the mass media in Western culture, and can be explained through Edward Said’s work on Orientalim. According to Said ‘the Orient is constructed in relation to the West, as it is a mirror image of what is inferior and aliens “other” to the West’. This can be applied to how Muslims and Arabs are frequently regarded by the West as murderers, brutes, and terrorists. This discourse is based on a set of binary oppositions between ‘uncivilized’ (Arabs/Muslims) and ‘civilized’ (West), so ‘us’ and ‘them’.

To conclude, I believe that this stereotypical representations fulfill the discourse (pre-established ideas about Arabs and Muslims), but also make a narrative (discourse) of the East, which makes sense within our field of cultural experience.