Case Study- How Hollywood portrays Arabs
An Overview of the portrayal
Hollywood has for several decades, set an agenda as well played a propagandist role in showcasing the Arab world and the Middle East in general. This depiction has been greatly impacted by several major political events from the last few decades to a century. Political events such as the creation of the State of Israel, the revolution of the Islamic State of Iran, and the tragic events of September 11, 2001 in the United States have gone a long way to influence Hollywood’s portrayal of Arabs, very often in stereotypical and negative facets.
Issues concerning the Middle East have been omnipresent ...view middle of the document...
In his extensive projects of both the book and the movie, Shaneen explores the American cinematic landscape from the early days of Hollywood to 2001, and shows a grim stereotyping of Arabs. Shaheen’s work provides a similarity to a few other seemingly racist depictions through past history. His work featured Hollywood’s portrayal of Arabs as a dangerous epidemic and writes that, “Muslims and Arabs continue to surface as the threatening culture…”(23). Shaheen asserts that Hollywood’s depiction of Arabs varies with the climate of current world politics. He documents that Arabs and Muslims are consistently depicted as, “bearded Mullahs, billionaire sheiks, terrorist bombers, black Bedouins, and noisy bargainers…women surface as gun tooters or bumbling subservient, or belly dancers bouncing voluptuously in palaces and erotically oscillating in slave markets. More recently, image-makers are offering other caricatures of Muslim women: covered in black from head to toe, they appear as uneducated, unattractive and enslaved beings, slowly attending to men, as they follow behind abusive sheiks” (23).
Some of the movies explored in Reel Bad Arabs include:
The Black Stallion (1979)- Movie begins with Arabs mistreating a horse aboard a ship, then attacking a boy with a knife and stealing his life jacket.
Cannonball Run 2(1981)- Showcasing the buffoonery of rich and stupid Arabs not knowing the worth of money.
Never say never again (1983) Showcasing dirty and sleazy Arabs salivating over a blond American girl.
Jewel of the Nile (1985) Showcasing ominous Arabs songs, sleazy and inept men outsmarted by Americans.
Black Sunday (1977) Showcasing concerns about Arab terrorists planning to bomb an American stadium.
Back to the future (1985) Antagonists in the film are referred to as inept and incompetent Libyan nationalists
Iron Eagle (1986) American teenager bombs an Arab country after learning to fly a fighter jet overnight.
Wanted: Dead or Alive (1987) Arab terrorists plan to bomb Los Angeles, killing millions.
Delta Force (1986) American special forces save Jews from Palestinian terrorists.
Navy Seals (1990) Showcasing inept, dangerous, and incompetent Arab terrorists wiped out by a handful of US special forces.
Rules of engagement (2000) A movie that justifies US Marines killing Arab women and children in Yemen.
Executive Decision (1996) Showcasing Arab terrorists hijacking an American plane and US special forces saving the day.
Gladiator (2000) Showcasing barbaric Arab slave traders in a movie with no Middle East connection.
True Lies (1994) Showcasing inept, dangerous, and incompetent Arab terrorist and suicide bombers in Washington DC.
The Kingdom (2005) Showcasing a small unit of FBI agents who track down and kill Arab terrorists in Saudi Arabia.
These movies represent just a handful from the past 3 decades alone which depict and stereotype Arabs. Hollywood images are closely related to matters in politics and do operate side by...