Saturday, May 07, 2011

Arabs and Muslims: The bad guys in Hollywood

"Reel Bad Arabs": How Hollywood vilifies a people.

I found this outstanding documentary on July 2010 and was impressed by the effort done and the huge amount of information documented in it. It was originally a book by the same author: Dr. Jack Shaheen that I so much admire and respect.
I thought of sharing this movie earlier but it never happened but now is definitely the best time to share such a masterpiece of work for many reasons. 

First of all to remind Arabs of the way we have always been considered and portrayed in the western media and consequently on the western mentality _and may be still are_ in order to work on changing this by clearing these misconceptions up.
I'm afraid the subconsciousness of us is being fed all the time by nonsense that become facts later on in a gradual process. 

(Advice number 1: Watch out for messages sent to you throughout media. All the time)

Secondly, when the map of the Middle East is being redrawn literally, policies towards the Middle East should be reconsidered again as well. This is the role of the educated open-minded westerners who are willing to co-operate.
Although seeing Americans jumping like crazy and chanting CIA in front of the red house oh, sorry I mean the white house made me think twice before talking about rationality and the definition of triumph I still have faith in the smart minority out there.

(Advice number 2: Power comes from people for people who are the makers of their fate, if they neglected this fact they should blame no-one but themselves.)

I'm not going to write much and will just quote from the official site of the movie that you might find here:


"This groundbreaking documentary dissects a slanderous aspect of cinematic history that has run virtually unchallenged from the earliest days of silent film to today's biggest Hollywood blockbusters. Featuring acclaimed author Dr. Jack Shaheen, the film explores a long line of degrading images of Arabs--from Bedouin bandits and submissive maidens to sinister sheikhs and gun-wielding "terrorists"--along the way offering devastating insights into the origin of these stereotypic images, their development at key points in US history, and why they matter so much today. "

"Shaheen shows how the persistence of these images over time has served to naturalize prejudicial attitudes toward Arabs and Arab culture, in the process reinforcing a narrow view of individual Arabs and the effects of specific US domestic and international policies on their lives.

By inspiring critical thinking about the social, political, and basic human consequences of leaving these Hollywood caricatures unexamined, the film challenges viewers to recognize the urgent need for counter-narratives that do justice to the diversity and humanity of Arab people and the reality and richness of Arab history and culture."

About Dr.Jack Shaheen:

Dr. Jack Shaheen (born 1935) is Professor Emeritus of Mass Communication at Southern Illinois University. He was also a consultant on Middle East affairs for CBS News.

He studies portrayals of Arabs and Islam in American media. Being a committed internationalist and humanist, Dr. Shaheen addresses stereotypical images of racial and ethnic groups. His presentations illustrate that stereotypes do not exist in a vacuum, that hurtful caricatures of Asians, blacks, Latinos and others, impact innocents. He explains why such portraits persist, and provides viable solutions to help shatter misperceptions.

Among Dr. Shaheen's awards recognizing his "outstanding contribution towards a better understanding of our global community" are the University of Pennsylvania's Janet Lee Stevens Award, and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee's Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition for "his lifelong commitment to bring a better understanding towards peace for all mankind."

Shaheen, a recipient of two Fulbright teaching awards, holds degrees from the Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Missouri. 

He regularly appears on national programs such as Nightline, Good Morning America, 48 Hours, and The Today Show. Also, he has worked with several television series: The Lucy Show, Twelve O'Clock High and The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.

To watch the full movie on Top Documentary Films: