Who Hates Who? Hollywood's Poison: Reel Bad Arabs

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Which Spielberg stereotypes have what effect?

Postby Hugh Manatee Wins » Fri Jan 18, 2008 4:19 pm

AlicetheKurious wrote:Yes, Attack Ships on Fire, thank you for clarifying things so well. There is no deliberate/systemic anti-Arab racist propaganda in Hollywood films.

In "True Lies" the villain was a crazy Arab. But where was the example of the Arab spy agent that works alongside Schwarzenegger?


Oh, I get it. The "crazy" Arab opposes Schwarzenegger, the "good" Arab works with Schwarzenegger, against the "crazy" Arab. Gotcha.


AToS has made so many errors of analysis in this quoted post that I'll just point out that citing the evil Libyans in 'Back to the Future' illustrates how CIA news psy-ops and CIA Hollywood scripts are coordinated and written by the same agency to influence youth.

The bad guys are the stereotypes most remembered.
The brain latches onto perceived threats more than other things.

One of the most transparently manipulative acts by Steven CIA Spielberg was to make a huge laugh line out of 'Indiana Jones' shooting an Arab and then playing the Conscience of the Nation by lecturing black youths in Oakland, California about the Holocaust because some of them laughed when a Nazi shot a Jew in 'Schindler's List' just as if it was that Spielberg scene in 'Indiana Jones.' Spielberg had helped set them up along with the rest of CIA-Hollywood's violence desensitization programming.

This 'Schindler's List-black youth' incident amplified the Reaganesque stereotype of the evil black race and the wedge between oppressed African Americans and socially-conscious Jews in America was driven even deeper than when Jesse Jackson was caught calling NYC "hymietown."

You couldn't ask for a better example of history-starved young people not even recognizing the harm in stereotypes and that shooting people isn't funny and that psy-ops is easily embedded in culture with Hollywood craftmanship and clever script-writers.

If anyone can point to one, or even better, more than one vicious/evil Jewish/Israeli character on TV or in movies produced by Hollywood, similar to those ubiquitous Arab/Muslim villains, that would be a far more effective rebuttal than a rambling post that boils down to: 'move along, nothing to see here.'


Alice, you'll love/hate this example I just found in the 1985 movie, 'Volunteers.'
The movie is a humorization mirror of two ugly American military situations-

>The CIA-Mossad terrorism in Central America
>The cover-up of Vietnam POW left-behinds reopened up by the return of Private Robert Garwood.

Image

BTW, you were right about John Loftus and Mark Aarons whitewashing Israeli crimes in their 1994 book called 'The Secret War Against the Jews.'
I just read Andrew and Leslie Cockburn's 1991 book 'Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the U.S.-Israeli Covert Relationship.'
Loftus-Aarons completely left out the history of the CIA's chief spook proxy in Central America, the Mossad's Michael Harari who handled Noriega while other Mossad acted as CIA allies and proxies while training death squads and importing high-tech weapons through Geomiltech based in Miami and Tel Aviv.

Back to 1985's 'Volunteers' movie starring Tom Hanks and John Candy.

The plot takes place in 1962 Thailand where a cocky rich Yalie (Hanks as Ugly American but Type-A Winner) has escaped a debt collector (evil Negro gangster-ahem) by hopping a Peace Corps flight to help third world villagers (what would they do without the US?) living by a river (Sumpul River massacre of 1980) build a bridge.

Uh, 1980 Sumpul River massacre of 600 refugees stuck on the El Salvador-Honduras border? Why in 1985? IranContra was peeking out all over. And the movie was written in 1980.

A very fishy story by writer Ken Levine about how Tom Hanks ended up in 'Volunteers' by 'coincidence'-
http://kenlevine.blogspot.com/2007/04/how-to-get-tom-hanks-to-star-in-your.html
This is a true “Hollywood” story of how my writing partner and I got Tom Hanks to star in our 1985 movie, VOLUNTEERS.
.....
We wrote the first draft five years earlier (so far this is a typical Hollywood story).
.....
Tom had just done SPLASH. It was a huge hit. He was the Will Ferrell-of-the-month. Offered every project in town. He couldn’t find anything he liked (even BACHELOR PARTY II). So he said to his agent he had read a project about the Peace Corps several years back. What about that one? The agent said he would try to track it down but without even knowing the title it would be like finding a needle in a haystack.

ONE HOUR LATER the agent gets a call from our producer. Would Tom be interested in a Peace Corps movie? The agent almost fell on the floor.


Back to the movie on the riverbank, 'Volunteers.'
Hanks keeps trying to seduce the nice altruistic-but-naive (redundant, right?) Long Island Jewish girl, Beth, who wears her Star of David pendant in her cleavage so we notice it but she is the target of the affections of the local gung-ho rogue CIA agent who keeps ranting in asides about his grandious war plans to his best friend, a big knife strapped to his hip...named "Mike."

Yes, in the 1985 movie, 'Volunteers,' the Mossad's Mike Harari is reduced to being an inanimate object in the delusional mind of a comically rogue CIA agent and the Jew in the Jungle is an altruistic Peace Corps volunteer in pink chaffon who is vulnerable to CIA rogues and needs to be rescued by Tom Hanks.
:P :x

The humorization of DIA Vice Admiral Tuttle covering up the POW Robert Garwood situation is really ugly. 1985 also saw the name "Tuttle" as central to the movie 'Brazil.'
ha ha.

Who ray for hauling wood.


on edit: Spielling.
Last edited by Hugh Manatee Wins on Fri Jan 18, 2008 5:26 pm, edited 5 times in total.
CIA runs mainstream media since WWII:
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Disney is CIA for kidz!
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Postby AlicetheKurious » Fri Jan 18, 2008 4:42 pm

Hugh said:

One of the most transparently manipulative acts by Steven CIA Spielberg was to make a huge laugh line out ouf 'Indiana Jones' shooting an Arab and then playing the Conscience of the Nation by lecturing black youths in Oakland, California about the Holocaust because the laughed when a Nazi shot a Jew in 'Schindler's List' as if it was that Spielberg scene in 'Indiana Jones.' Spielberg had helped set them up along with the rest of CIA-Hollywood's violence desensitization programming.


Very interesting example.

I was just thinking of that John Travolta movie from a few years ago, the one where he plays a monstrous terrorist, and then it turns out he's Mossad, and THEN it turns out that the terrorism in which he's engaged, is actually to PROTECT "the free world".

At the end of the movie, I can't for the life of me remember its name, he gives a speech that boils down to, "You soft, warm-hearted Americans, don't judge me for being a vicious, brutal killer -- that's what's needed to fight the even more vicious, brutal Arabs, REAL terrorists who would eat you alive if it weren't for the likes of me." Very similar to the "You can't HANDLE the truth!" speech delivered by Jack Nicholson in "A Few Good Men", but this time Travolta is portrayed as a hero.

I just felt sick and outraged.
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Postby theeKultleeder » Fri Jan 18, 2008 4:42 pm

I think he (ASoF) covered the obvious point that the "enemy du jour" in the movies is ANY race or nationality that is current in the news.

It could be Soviets, Chinese, Germans, etcetera, even the British! if you look at movies set in the period of the war for independence.

Now, I agree with Hugh that the movies play a role in programming the masses to go along with whatever the current military agenda is. But I disagree with Alice that it is "anti-Arab" in particular.
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Postby Attack Ships on Fire » Fri Jan 18, 2008 5:22 pm

AlicetheKurious wrote:Yes, Attack Ships on Fire, thank you for clarifying things so well. There is no deliberate/systemic anti-Arab racist propaganda in Hollywood films.

In "True Lies" the villain was a crazy Arab. But where was the example of the Arab spy agent that works alongside Schwarzenegger?


Oh, I get it. The "crazy" Arab opposes Schwarzenegger, the "good" Arab works with Schwarzenegger, against the "crazy" Arab. Gotcha.


Yes, that's right. You do realize that there are bad Arabic people just as there are good Arabic people, or should "True Lies" have made the villain a white anglo-saxon protestant to make the film more enjoyable for you? Tell me, did you see "Die Hard"? As a white male myself, do you think that I should have been offended by Alan Rickman playing the terrorist leader? In fact hasn't the entire "Die Hard" series portrayed white males as nothing more than backstabbing criminal masterminds?

The point that I'm getting at is, where do you draw the line between an offensive portrayal of a fictional character and an entertaining portrayal? Did the bad Arab in "True Lies" act in certain ways that insulted Arabic culture? Was the portrayal of the character completely out of touch with reality? Are there any examples of Arabic people acting in the manner like the villain?

I believe the answer to those questions is "yes", just as there are plenty of examples of white males acting like deranged lunatics in "Die Hard". I also think that giving a certain group of people a pass to be portrayed as villains (or heroes, for that matter) is just as offensive as consistently portraying them as such. I don't think it was wrong to have the villain be of Arabic descent in "True Lies".

AlicetheKurious wrote:How could I have been so deluded. Hollywood films exhibit no more hateful stereotypes of Arabs, and Muslims, than of any other ethnic/racial/religious/gender/whatever group. That short clip in the OP, on the other hand, was very biased against Hollywood. How unfair. Hollywood gave an award to an Arab actor (who doesn't play Arab characters), after all.


Why are you trying to twist my views around to make it sound like I am oppressing your own view?

AlicetheKurious wrote:PPS: Seriously, as an Arab woman myself, who lives in an Arab country, I can tell you that if you base your perception of Arab women (or Arab men, for that matter) on Hollywood films, even if only slightly, I guarantee that you are not only tremendously ignorant, but are the victim of racist indoctrination.


I never once said that I base my perception of Arabic people on the characters that I watch in films -- because I know those characters are fictional. Arnold Schwarzenegger's character is an impossible hero in "True Lies". Do you actually believe that I accept what he does as plausible because I share the same skin color as Schwarzenegger? If I take your assumption about me and Arabic characters as accurate, isn't that is what you are also inferring about the portrayal of fictional characters that I share skin color with?

I base my opinion about Arabic peoples based on two criteria: non-fictional accounts related to me by friends, relatives and news sources that I trust and my personal experiences interacting with Arabic people, whether they are friends, acquaintances or strangers that I briefly meet. And that is why I can separate the difference between fictional entertainment stereotypes and what the world is really like. I expect that the chances of meeting someone like the villain from "True Lies" is about the same chance of meeting Arnold Schwarzenegger's character from the same film. It's bullshit. People are far more complex than what passes for people on TV and movie screens.

Sorry if I offended you but I think you're confusing me with a bigot because I can discern the difference between a movie and real life. And I think that I have a very valid point: almost all characters as depicted in Hollywood movies, whether they are white, Arabic or whatever, are larger-than-life and often full of stereotypical behavior associated, mistakenly or not, with that particular group. I also think that it's not fair at all to hold a magnifying glass up to Arabic portrayals in Hollywood and not point out the positive examples, especially when the critical observation draws examples from films where there *are* positive Arabic characters shown. Why should the creators of that short film get a free pass?
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Re: Which Spielberg stereotypes have what effect?

Postby Attack Ships on Fire » Fri Jan 18, 2008 5:28 pm

Hugh Manatee Wins wrote:
AToS has made so many errors of analysis in this quoted post that I'll just point out that citing the evil Libyans in 'Back to the Future' illustrates how CIA news psy-ops and CIA Hollywood scripts are coordinated and written by the same agency to influence youth.

The bad guys are the stereotypes most remembered.
The brain latches onto perceived threats more than other things.


Sorry Hugh but I disagree with you once again. Ask 100 random people the top 5 things that they most recall about "Back to the Future" and I think you will be hard-pressed to find the Libyans amongst the responses.

Hugh Manatee Wins wrote:One of the most transparently manipulative acts by Steven CIA Spielberg was to make a huge laugh line out of 'Indiana Jones' shooting an Arab and then playing the Conscience of the Nation by lecturing black youths in Oakland, California about the Holocaust because some of them laughed when a Nazi shot a Jew in 'Schindler's List' just as if it was that Spielberg scene in 'Indiana Jones.' Spielberg had helped set them up along with the rest of CIA-Hollywood's violence desensitization programming.


I just googled that Oakland event and you do realize that 13 years had passed since the release of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and that screening? That seems like a long time inbetween the two events to draw an assumption that Spielberg planned it out, don't you?

And I'll be the first to say that Steven Spielberg uses harsh stereotypes in his films. Usually I don't like it, and I find some of them more offensive than others while it seems the majority of people don't find them offense. For instance Spielberg constantly uses overweight children as the butt of jokes in his films, like the fat kid in "Hook" turning into a ball to knock people down. If you're offended by the swordman in "Raiders" I hope you are offended by that example too.
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Postby AlicetheKurious » Fri Jan 18, 2008 7:06 pm

Attack Ships on Fire said:

...almost all characters as depicted in Hollywood movies, whether they are white, Arabic or whatever, are larger-than-life and often full of stereotypical behavior associated, mistakenly or not, with that particular group.

Well, how that stereotypical behaviour became associated with that particular group, is very often via deliberately distorted images seeded throughout the media in popular books, tv, movies and the news.

Personally, as an avid reader, I've become so sick of the Arab racism in American popular books, that I literally won't read a book if it has Arab characters in it. I won't watch American news, just because I get so disgusted by the distortion and malice that pervades it. The same goes for American movies with Arab characters, except that I often get blind-sided with nasty little surprises, similar to the "Libyan" thing in "Back to the Future", which I find sneaky and low. It upsets me, just as it upsets Jack Shaheen and Jackie Salloum and the late Edward Said and many, many other Arab people. That it doesn't disturb you, with all due respect, is less significant than the fact that it does disturb and hurt the members of the group being targeted.

The dangerous thing about viewing a group of people through a racist lens, is that the lens itself is invisible to the viewer. Let's say someone from another culture, say, the Vulcan nation, has been programmed to believe that all White American men are, say, exceedingly violent, prone to alcoholism, foul-mouthed and prone to steal other people's property using deadly force.

Let's say that in that culture, that is how American characters are almost always portrayed in the media, and that American media is not easily available in Vulcania. Now, Vulcania happens to be the world's largest military superpower, with a military greater than that of all the rest of the world combined, and Vulcania has, directly or indirectly invaded and/or occupied large parts of the United States, killing and crippling millions of Americans, destroying entire cities and towns, secret prisons, torture, the whole shebang.

All based on the pretext that Americans represent a real and present danger, not only to Vulcania, but to the peace and security of the world.

When some Americans protest that the racist images constantly drummed into the minds of Vulcanians form an integral part of the apparatus that oppresses them, Vulcanians dismiss their concerns. "You do realize that there are bad American people just as there are good American people," they ask.

Keep in mind that you and I see different things when we see Arab portrayals in the American media, and that while you may or may not intellectually recognize such racism, my reaction, not only to the ugly stereotypes, but to their prevalence is visceral and personal.

You want to know about it? You don't want to know about it? That's your choice, and your responsibility.
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Postby Attack Ships on Fire » Fri Jan 18, 2008 8:53 pm

AlicetheKurious wrote:Attack Ships on Fire said:

...almost all characters as depicted in Hollywood movies, whether they are white, Arabic or whatever, are larger-than-life and often full of stereotypical behavior associated, mistakenly or not, with that particular group.

Well, how that stereotypical behaviour became associated with that particular group, is very often via deliberately distorted images seeded throughout the media in popular books, tv, movies and the news.


After thinking a bit about your statement I believe that I can only agree or disagree with what you are stating on a case-by-case basis. Here's an example of what I mean: I have never traveled to the middle east so my perception of what life is like is one attained mostly through the news programs and stories that I've read as well as some georgraphy and history schooling. That said, on a general level I would feel less safe walking around any given country in the middle east than I would in my home country. I realize that there are cities closer to me where my life would be in danger if I was found walking certain streets, but by and large my impression of the middle east is that it is less tolerant to the wide spectrum of diversity than western culture.

So is that a wrong assumption? If it's not then is Hollywood wrong in using stereotypes to portray characters integral to the storyline of a film? I can see both sides of the arguement: the filmmakers don't have unlimited time to portray a 3-dimensional characterization while a 1-dimensional character can be taken at face value as a representative of that culture by the ill-informed viewers.

My belief is that the problem and responsibility doesn't lie with Hollywood, it lies with the government of the United States who, through their various internal policies and in deciding what is and is not important in the annual budget, doesn't seem to really care if the average American citizen has a distorted view of the world outside of their own borders. I believe that there is nothing wrong in showing Arabic villains, just as I believe that it's alright to show Scottish villains or Swedish villains and so on, as long as its integral to the story and that story does not serve as a means to put down a certain group.

If you learned that the next James Bond movie's villain was of Arabic descent, but was cut from the same cloth as the series' other villains (megamanical, rich, etc.), would you be offended?

AlicetheKurious wrote:Personally, as an avid reader, I've become so sick of the Arab racism in American popular books, that I literally won't read a book if it has Arab characters in it. I won't watch American news, just because I get so disgusted by the distortion and malice that pervades it. The same goes for American movies with Arab characters, except that I often get blind-sided with nasty little surprises, similar to the "Libyan" thing in "Back to the Future", which I find sneaky and low. It upsets me, just as it upsets Jack Shaheen and Jackie Salloum and the late Edward Said and many, many other Arab people. That it doesn't disturb you, with all due respect, is less significant than the fact that it does disturb and hurt the members of the group being targeted.


I don't think it's fair to the context of this debate to lump entertainment and news reporting together. I would rather separate the two as I think the criticisms that should be directed at each of these fields are different.

Again, I don't think it's wrong to use villains that come from an Arabic descent. I notice that you didn't comment on a point that I brought up in my last post about if you've ever contemplated the manner that white people are portrayed in mainstream escapism films like "Back to the Future". If you are offended by the use of Libyans in that film, are you not offended by the character of Biff, the thug that serves as the main villain? What about the hero's inability to walk away from being called a name? Why does your disgust for negative portrayals of characters in "Back to the Future" begin and end with the Libyans?

AlicetheKurious wrote:The dangerous thing about viewing a group of people through a racist lens, is that the lens itself is invisible to the viewer.


Which is the main point that I've been on -- all races, sexes, ages get stereotyped by Hollywood in the majority of mainsteam escapism. I would classify films like "Crash" outside of escapism -- I'm referring to "Star Wars", "Independence Day", "Raiders of the Lost Ark", "Pretty Woman" and so on. The characters in these films are mostly stereotypical whether they be white, black, straight, you name it. It's not just Arabic peoples. I will agree that you don't see many representations of people of Arabic descent in Hollywood movies, but you also don't see many asian, Mexican, East Indian and native American representation either. By and large Hollywood only shows white European descendants and black Americans.[/quote]

AlicetheKurious wrote:Let's say someone from another culture, say, the Vulcan nation, has been programmed to believe that all White American men are, say, exceedingly violent, prone to alcoholism, foul-mouthed and prone to steal other people's property using deadly force.

Let's say that in that culture, that is how American characters are almost always portrayed in the media, and that American media is not easily available in Vulcania. Now, Vulcania happens to be the world's largest military superpower, with a military greater than that of all the rest of the world combined, and Vulcania has, directly or indirectly invaded and/or occupied large parts of the United States, killing and crippling millions of Americans, destroying entire cities and towns, secret prisons, torture, the whole shebang.

All based on the pretext that Americans represent a real and present danger, not only to Vulcania, but to the peace and security of the world.

When some Americans protest that the racist images constantly drummed into the minds of Vulcanians form an integral part of the apparatus that oppresses them, Vulcanians dismiss their concerns. "You do realize that there are bad American people just as there are good American people," they ask.

Keep in mind that you and I see different things when we see Arab portrayals in the American media, and that while you may or may not intellectually recognize such racism, my reaction, not only to the ugly stereotypes, but to their prevalence is visceral and personal.


How did you feel 20 years ago when the common villain in American news and entertainment were the Soviets? The fear and loathing that you now associate America having for people of all Arabic denominations is precisely what also happened to the people of Russia during the Cold War. Sting wrote a song about the Russians loving their children too. But that doesn't mean that all aspects of Russia were loving and wonderful -- they had a brutal oppressive regime, dictators that killed millions and contributed to the level of mistrust. There are Arabic nations that are oppressive, ruled by dictators, responsible for the deaths of their own citizens. In short, they aren't nice places to live if you're different (like if you are gay or a different racial heritage than the majority). Those negative examples of Arabic lands and peoples contributes to the American method of propaganda or self-isolationism, whatever you want to call it, to make an effective shield for the American population in how they perceive the world outside of their borders.

It may be uncomfortable to admit but some stereotypes have a foundation in reality. If an American movie producer were to make a movie about a suicide bomber do you think that they would make that character of some kind of quasi Arabic descent or European descent? It would be Arabic because that's in the news right now: suicide bombers come from the middle east and are usually of Arabic descent. We could spend a whole thread debating about the why part of that question, what possesses someone to blow themselves up and if there is a legitimate reason behind that act, but we're talking about Hollywood movies here and the generality of them so I would like to keep the discussion on the broader aspects and forgive me for not going into specifics or reasoning for why these stereotypes are chosen.

And as a white straight male I've often been told that I don't get it or haven't experienced racism or being looked down upon or being different or to be feared -- and that's totally incorrect. Every time a woman decides not to get into an elevator with me because we're the only two people in the lobby and it's late at night, I feel like shit. Every time I see another TV sitcom which shows a fat American husband lovingly put down by his hotter and somehow tolerant American wife, I cringe. Every time I see another Hollywood movie that shows yet another white or black all-American action hero saving the day and not a native or asian or Mexican action hero, I feel more sarcastic and full of scorn when I hear the words "Look at how far we've come". There's a lot of ways in which society can prove that it's trying to overcome racism. Education is one of the main ways that I believe it can work and as long as the American government likes to keep its population distracted by "American Idol" it's not going to happen.

On there not being enough positive fictional characters in movies and on TV of Arabic descent, I'm in 100% agreement with you.
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Postby orz » Fri Jan 18, 2008 9:57 pm

As a white male myself, do you think that I should have been offended by Alan Rickman playing the terrorist leader?

Bad guys are ALWAYS english. Arabs make a change and get us brits off the hook for once. :D
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Postby AlicetheKurious » Sat Jan 19, 2008 6:30 am

Attack Ships on Fire said:

It may be uncomfortable to admit but some stereotypes have a foundation in reality.


No. I'm sorry. The reality is that Arabs have been OVERWHELMINGLY the VICTIMS of British, French, Italian, American and Israeli terrorism.

By any objective standards, Western atrocities in terms of viciousness and number of victims, against innocent Arab men, women and children, generation after generation, comprise a vast ocean of terrorism compared to which Arab terrorism is an infinitesimal drop.

That the stereotype presents Arabs as the terrorists, and Westerners/Israelis as the victims, is another in a long list of outrageous crimes against Arabs.

Those stereotypes serve to JUSTIFY the crimes, adding insult to injury.

It is intolerable, and no amount of platitudes will make it tolerable.

...my impression of the middle east is that it is less tolerant to the wide spectrum of diversity than western culture.


"Your impression" is wrong, wrong, wrong. "The Middle East" is a huge area, comprising dozens of diverse countries, with a wide spectrum of cultures living side-by-side. I'd love to have one day to show you around one city, Cairo. I'd make your head spin with the incredible dynamism and cultural diversity of this city that literally never sleeps, where there are traffic jams at 3:00 am, where every day you have hundreds of choices between everything from classical European concerts, traditional Sufi music and dance, theater, American films, European films and Arabic films, an incredible diversity of cultural venues, all available for a pittance, where walking down the street even in the poorest neighborhood is safer than in many American middle-class suburbs.

Egyptian culture is a symbiosis of Ancient Egyptian, Greek, French, English, Arabic, and even American cultures, all of which (and more) have been absorbed and integrated over the centuries.

This is a city of incredibly friendly people, where neighbors are considered family, where generosity and hospitality have been elevated to a high art. I've visited some other Arab cities, and rural areas, where the hospitality and welcome for strangers eclipses even that of the Egyptians.

The majority of people are poor, extremely poor by Western standards, many surviving on less than $1 a day. Yet their spirit, courtesy, famous sense of humor and spiritual devotion allow them to survive and struggle and hope for a better future, if not for themselves, then for their children.

To reduce all this to a simple-minded stereotype of the "Arab terrorist" is yet another act of violence against these people, pure injustice, pure evil.

It is unacceptable.
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Postby AlicetheKurious » Sat Jan 19, 2008 6:35 am

I strongly suggest, for anyone who is interested in seeing one alternative type of portrayal of Arabs, from an Arab point of view, that people get a copy of Syrian-American director Mustafa Akkad's movie: "Omar Mukhtar, Lion of the Desert", starring Anthony Quinn. Do it, it's a wonderful film, and no reading of subtitles is necessary.

For those with access to foreign films, who don't mind subtitles, I recommend two excellent Egyptian movies about contemporary Egyptian society:

1) The Citizen, the Police Informant and the Thief;

2) Sahar al Layali (Sleepless Nights)
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Postby Attack Ships on Fire » Sat Jan 19, 2008 6:58 pm

AlicetheKurious wrote:Attack Ships on Fire said:

It may be uncomfortable to admit but some stereotypes have a foundation in reality.


No. I'm sorry. The reality is that Arabs have been OVERWHELMINGLY the VICTIMS of British, French, Italian, American and Israeli terrorism.


Alice, with all due respect, that is not what I said. I said that "some stereotypes have a foundation in reality," and I meant that in a general context. Some aspects of of Arabic people and lifestyle can be used to create a stereotype, as in the case of the cartoon version of an Arab seen in the short film. Do Arabs (and we are talking in a general sense here, not specific countries or regions) dress in blue jeans and a rocker t-shirt like a stereotypical American teenager? Of course not. Cultural fashion, accents, mannerisms, all these things and more are used to create stereotypes. It's not the best portrayal of a human being but storytelling uses stereotypes all the time since they are working with a time restriction.

It's a brush that I am using to paint how mass entertainment operates to create characters, right or wrong, and I never said that Arabs have been the victims of western peoples. You are mixing two discussions together and putting words in my mouth.

AlicetheKurious wrote:By any objective standards, Western atrocities in terms of viciousness and number of victims, against innocent Arab men, women and children, generation after generation, comprise a vast ocean of terrorism compared to which Arab terrorism is an infinitesimal drop.


I agree with you to a point, western powers are guilty of committing horrible crimes against Arab nations and peoples. But unless we talk specifics (country, region, era) I could make the same statement back at Arabs. Afghanistan was under the brutal oppression of the Taliban before 9/11 and many horrible crimes were committed against average citizens by that ruling body. Saddam Hussein was a dictator in Iraq and committed genocide against the Kurds as well as murdered his own people in cold blood. I consider both of those examples of Arabic terrorism, to a degree. I also consider suicide bombers, like the ones waging their war in Pakistan and Israel, terrorists too. Israel's occupation of the West Bank and its lobbying of missiles into Palestine is an act of terrorism too. Israel also started the Six-Day War and captured Arabic land and its population, an act of terrorism in my opinion. But I don't consider the Arabic nations innocents in this mess either. Again, this is a general picture that I am discussing and not specifics.

AlicetheKurious wrote:That the stereotype presents Arabs as the terrorists, and Westerners/Israelis as the victims, is another in a long list of outrageous crimes against Arabs.


I agree, to a point, but are we talking about Hollywood movies or the real world now? Do we see many accurate portrayals of the life of an average Arabic person who is not committing crimes in his/her country? No, we don't. There are two reasons for that: a) the majority of Hollywood movies use larger-than-life storylines (it's a murder, it's a crime of passion, aliens invade, zombies attack, cops take on criminals singlehandedly, etc.) and designed to be escapist entertainment, and b) Hollywood tends to produce and release movies that reflect American living and not like in the middle east, Great Britain, Australia, Indochina and so on. Do I expect Hollywood to make a bunch of dramas about the average life of a middle eastern person? No because I know that American audiences won't go see a drama about the life of an American person unless there is drama to it.

Do you think "Syriana" was unfair to show a young Arabic man slow realization to become a suicide bomber?

AlicetheKurious wrote:Those stereotypes serve to JUSTIFY the crimes, adding insult to injury.

It is intolerable, and no amount of platitudes will make it tolerable.


Middle eastern filmmakers are more than welcome to make and fund their own films including escapist pictures.

AlicetheKurious wrote:
...my impression of the middle east is that it is less tolerant to the wide spectrum of diversity than western culture.


"Your impression" is wrong, wrong, wrong. "The Middle East" is a huge area, comprising dozens of diverse countries, with a wide spectrum of cultures living side-by-side. I'd love to have one day to show you around one city, Cairo. I'd make your head spin with the incredible dynamism and cultural diversity of this city that literally never sleeps, where there are traffic jams at 3:00 am, where every day you have hundreds of choices between everything from classical European concerts, traditional Sufi music and dance, theater, American films, European films and Arabic films, an incredible diversity of cultural venues, all available for a pittance, where walking down the street even in the poorest neighborhood is safer than in many American middle-class suburbs.


Up until now you had been OK with talking about "the middle east" as a general body but the minute I introduced my views of that region now you want to talk specifics. Fine. Let's use your example, Egypt.

I don't care about the lovely traffic jams at 3 am or the cultural diversity of the city either for many other cities of the world have these same things. When I talk about "my impression of the middle east is that it is less tolerant to the wide spectrum of diversity than western culture," I don't mean those things, I mean that is the middle east a fair promoter and value human rights, individual choice and freedom of (sexual, political, intellectual) expression?

My reference for Egypt is Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_in_Egypt), and I'm assuming that these statements made on the site are true.

- Freedom House places Egypt's political rights at 6, civil liberties at 5, and an average of 5.5. This is an improvement, but it places them at unfree.
Other nations in North African and the Mideast they place at 5.5 are Algeria, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, and Tunisia. They gave them a press freedom score of 68, which is also unfree. They gave the following nations a 68 as well: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Maldives, and Russia. In 2000 the related Center for Religious Freedom placed Egypt as partly free at 5; this put them in line with Muslim nations like Turkey and Indonesia.[1] Reporters Without Borders placed Egypt between Bhutan and the Côte d'Ivoire in press freedom. The Heritage Foundation's index of economic freedom placed Egypt at a 1.65, this is equal to Bulgaria, Kyrgyzstan, Tanzania, Cameroon, Azerbaijan, Albania, Lesotho, and Benin.

- criticism of the president can be punished by fines or imprisonment.

- According to Al Jazeera.net, "in the past few years, independent Egyptian newspapers have emerged that have proved willing to hold the rich and powerful elite to account, right up to the presidency. The old state-owned newspapers are beginning to lose their readership."[6] In July 2006, the Egyptian parliament passed a new press law. The new law no longer allows journalists to be imprisoned for comments against the government, but continues to allow fines to be levied against such journalists. The independent press and the Muslim Brotherhood, protested this law as repressive

- Government regulations dating from Ottoman times require non-Muslims to obtain presidential decrees before building or repair a place of worship. Although in 1999 President Mubarak issued a decree making repairs of all places of worship subject to a 1976 civil construction code, in practice Christians report difficulty obtaining permits. Once permits have been obtained, Christians report being preventing from performing repairs or building by local authorities

- Human Rights Watch also indicates issues of concern. For example they discuss how the law does not recognize conversion from Islam to other religions.[13] They also mention strict laws against insulting Islam, Christianity or Judaism and detention for unorthodox sects of Islam.

- Domestic violence is not dealt with by many police in Egypt. Also family law is traditionally based on Sharia, which critics deem unfair to women.

- After an incident in which crowds of young males sexually molested women outside a movie theatre, women trying to make a police report were allegedly turned away from the police station without being allowed to file the report.

- Female circumcision was finally declared unlawful in 1996 yet it is still vigorsly debated today.

- Homosexuality is not technically illegal in Egypt, but is considered taboo. Until recently, the government denied that homosexuality existed in Egypt, but recently official crackdowns have occurred for reasons felt to include the desire to appease Islamic clerics, to distract from economic issues, or as a cover-up for closet homosexuals in high places.

- In 2002 52 men were rounded up on the Queen Boat, a floating nightclub, by police, where they were beaten and tortured. Eventually 29 were acquitted and 23 were convicted for "debauchery and deflaming Islam" and sentenced for up to five years in prison with hard labor. Since the trial was held in a state security court, no appeal was allowed

- In 2006, Human Rights Watch released a 144-page report called In a Time of Torture: The Assault on Justice in Egypt's Crackdown on Homosexual Conduct. The report stated that "The detention and torture of hundreds of men reveals the fragility of legal protections for individual privacy and due process for all Egyptians."

- In a 2005 report of the Egyptian Supreme Council for Human Rights chaired by former UN secretary-general and former Egyptian deputy prime minister Boutros Boutros-Ghali cites instances of torture of detainees in Egyptian prisons and describes the deaths while in custody of 9 individuals as, "regrettable violations of the right to life." The report, "called for an end to [a] state of emergency, which has been in force since 1981, saying it provided a loophole by which the authorities prevent some Egyptians enjoying their right to personal security."

Alice, you make a case for the beauty and appreciation of Cairo, Egypt based upon its material things. All of the world's great cities (and I consider Cairo one of these) have points of illumination, of cultural beauty, of sophistication, of awe. But if certain groups of people living in the nation are not treated the same as others, why should I admire that nation? You talk about how unfairly Arabs have been portrayed by western filmmakers, well then where is your contempt for Egypt's second-class treatment of women or Christians or homosexuals? America has its own share of problems bringing equality to each minority but could you find an example like Egypt's Queen Boat incident where 52 gay men were arrested, beaten and tortured and then government officials wrote it off as "the family values of our society" in action? Do you think it was alright for Egyptian girls to have female circumcision performed on them? Do you think it's representative of a tolerant, free society where doctors and politicians still regret not imposing female circumcision on all women?

*This* is what I draw my impression of life in the middle east -- and there are other middle eastern countries not as tolerant as Egypt. Gay bashing is thought to be a crime where I live. Women are allowed to wear whatever they want, choose whatever life they want, attend school if they want. Islamic mosques are free to open in the same neighborhoods as Buddish temples or Christian churches. On the whole the openness for individual rights and freedoms *is* more tolerant in the west and *it is not* in the middle east. I stated that before and you gave me examples of Egypt's art and culture and you provided nothing about the limitations of personal freedoms in that country.

AlicetheKurious wrote:Egyptian culture is a symbiosis of Ancient Egyptian, Greek, French, English, Arabic, and even American cultures, all of which (and more) have been absorbed and integrated over the centuries.

This is a city of incredibly friendly people, where neighbors are considered family, where generosity and hospitality have been elevated to a high art. I've visited some other Arab cities, and rural areas, where the hospitality and welcome for strangers eclipses even that of the Egyptians.


There is a gay couple that lives two doors down from my parents home. My best friend is also gay. Tell me, in your city of "incredibly friendly people, where neighbors are considered family", would they receive the same welcome as a hetrosexual couple or straight man? Because judging from what I read about Egypt's police and politicians I have my doubts.

AlicetheKurious wrote:The majority of people are poor, extremely poor by Western standards, many surviving on less than $1 a day. Yet their spirit, courtesy, famous sense of humor and spiritual devotion allow them to survive and struggle and hope for a better future, if not for themselves, then for their children.


And there aren't poor people living in America, or good natured people who hope for a better future for themselves and their children? What is your point here, aside from trying to paint a picture that Egypt is a wonderful land without any problems?

AlicetheKurious wrote:To reduce all this to a simple-minded stereotype of the "Arab terrorist" is yet another act of violence against these people, pure injustice, pure evil.


And what act does it serve for you to not illustrate Egypt's poor track records for human rights, freedom of speech or the difficulties facing women's rights? Whitewashing a people or nation's sins is just as horrible in certain ways as committing them in the first place.

Here is a graph I found on Wikipedia showing how the world is broken up according to freedom. The blue countries represent places that are deemed free, yellow is partly free, blue is not free. Notice the color spectrum in the middle east:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Free ... 7_blue.png

To be fair, the graph was made by a U.S.-based organization called Freedom House. Again, according to Wikipedia there has been some controversy over Freedom House's reports:

The methodology Freedom House uses for its reports has been criticised by social scientist K. A. Bollen for its perceived bias towards countries with pro-US positions.[18] Bollen argues that by relying on 'experts' or 'judges', the methodology falls into what is described as 'systematic measurement error': "Regardless of the direction of distortions, it is highly likely that every set of indicators formed by a single author or organization contains systematic measurement error. The origin of this measure lies in the common methodology of forming measures. Selectivity of information and various traits of the judges fuse into a distinct form of bias that is likely to characterize all indicators from a common publication."[19]

Nevertheless, I am not one to lump everything produced by America as being worthless or without the best interests of humanity. There's got to be some things good made from Americans.

I also don't buy the reasoning that some middle easterners give that since they are of a different culture it's alright for them to treat gays or women or outsiders as second-class citizens. Like it or not, mankind has been crawling from barbarism and the stone age. Technology is used in the middle east just as in the western world. The advances to medical, scientific, agriculture and so on have benefited the middle east just as much as the west. So if the middle east wants to play with the same kind of toys as the western world, why can't the Arabic standards of social justice, human rights and tolerance be held accountable to the rest of the world? We're all human beings and thus every one of us should have the same rights as the other person.
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Postby Joe Hillshoist » Sat Jan 19, 2008 9:31 pm

I can remember Hollywood movies from 20 years ago with the most pathetic stereotypical evil arabs I have ever seen.

And from 30 years ago where all the black people are criminals and thugs.

Dumbfuck pointless action movies that get watched by the same demographic. One that never watches an intelligent film (live Alvin purple). One the US establishment loves to fire up for war. (Can't guess who they are? Propagandi wrote a song about them.)

ASoF just cos you can tell the difference doesn't mean everyone can.

Fuck I know people that think JFK was a doco.
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Postby AlicetheKurious » Sun Jan 20, 2008 5:11 am

Attack Ships on Fire, your ignorance is overwhelming, exceeded only by your thinly-disguised racism.

I'll even respond to your idiotic question:

Do Arabs (and we are talking in a general sense here, not specific countries or regions) dress in blue jeans and a rocker t-shirt like a stereotypical American teenager?


Image

(Above) Teenagers at this year's [Cairo International] Bookfair

Well, many do. Duh.

Afghanistan was under the brutal oppression of the Taliban before 9/11 and many horrible crimes were committed against average citizens by that ruling body. Saddam Hussein was a dictator in Iraq and committed genocide against the Kurds as well as murdered his own people in cold blood. I consider both of those examples of Arabic terrorism, to a degree. I also consider suicide bombers, like the ones waging their war in Pakistan and Israel, terrorists too.


Lovely that your memory only extends as far back as the Taliban, with regard to Afghanistan. Your opinions only make sense in the context of a HIGHLY selective and amazingly ignorant reading of history.

The same with Iraq, in which the Americans have now murdered more than two and a half million innocent Iraqis during a decade of inhumane sanctions, followed by "shock and awe", invasion and occupation, not to mention the rape and pillage and torture in which they so gleefully engaged. The American atrocities in Iraq have, incredibly, made Iraqis yearn for the good old days of CIA-asset Saddam Hussein, even with his American-supplied chemical and other weapons, and his American-sponsored war of aggression against Iran, which cost the lives of over a million Iraqis and Iranians.

As for the suicide-bombers "in Israel", how very terroristic they are, compared to the lovely Israeli one-ton bombs that are dropped from the sky on population centers. I suppose that, in order to comply with your standards of civilized behaviour, the Palestinians would have to use billions of US taxpayers' money to commit genocide against the Israelis.

"Syriana" was unfair to show a young Arabic man slow realization to become a suicide bomber?


You didn't see Syriana, that's not at all what it was about. You're talking out of your ass, as usual. In fact, even with its many faults, Syriana's plot was about what happens to an Arab leader with integrity, who wants to defend and protect his country's interests. In a scenario all too familiar for those who know anything about our region's history, he is murdered by the CIA in a false-flag terrorist explosion, so that he can be replaced by a corrupt, pro-American dictator.

As for human rights under the US-supported dictatorship in Egypt, you know, the one that US taxpayers bribe to the tune of billions of dollars every year to protect Israeli and American "interests" at the expense of Egyptians, it makes me sick when assholes point to that as an example of how that proves that Egyptians are not as wonderful and delightful as Americans.

Egypt has been brought to its knees by decades of being sucker-punched on the one hand by the Americans, who have literally gutted its economy and propped up a corrupt, oppressive government; by the Israelis, who have infiltrated and almost totally destroyed its agricultural base, leading to a massive deterioration in quality of life and public health; and by the American sock-puppet Saudi Arabian regime, which used billions and billions of petro-dollars to introduce and promote a poisonous brand of fanatic Wahhabism combined with sexual/moral corruption that has devastated Egyptian society.

Generation after generation of Egyptian human rights and democracy activists, men and women, Muslims and Christians, have been jailed, exiled or murdered by the US-sponsored dictatorship. For you to point to the US as the beacon of light, in contrast to which Egyptians wallow in darkness, is the height of hypocrisy.

Get the f*ck out of our country, get your grubby, blood-soaked fingers out of the Middle East, and let its people decide how to run their own countries.

Decade after decade, we have sent you our best and our brightest: our doctors, our engineers, our scientists, our professors, our hard-working employees, while you have sent us your spies, your weapons of mass destruction, your depleted uranium shit, your exploiters, your blood-suckers, and your bribes to the worst and most corrupt, whom you elevated to rule over us.

Keep pointing your smelly finger at us, while your boot is on our neck and your other hand is up our ass. We want freedom, and we want human rights, not because some Amerikan / zionazi hypocrites are expressing "concern" about the state of freedom in Arab countries, but because these are the rights for which we have been struggling since the dawn of the last century, against YOU and your kind.

Technology is used in the middle east just as in the western world. The advances to medical, scientific, agriculture and so on have benefited the middle east just as much as the west. So if the middle east wants to play with the same kind of toys as the western world, why can't the Arabic standards of social justice, human rights and tolerance be held accountable to the rest of the world? We're all human beings and thus every one of us should have the same rights as the other person.


Fuck you.
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Postby OP ED » Sun Jan 20, 2008 5:49 am

AlicetheKurious wrote:

Fuck you.


exactly how all the arabs I know would've put it.

...all the arabs I run with I know from college mostly, so it might bias me slightly, but, in general, I find them to be EXACTLY as annoying and stupid as all the other humans I know. I go to school in Dearborn, which last I heard, had more arabs than Cairo. OF course, we have more crime than Cairo, too(but that's Dtown's fault, not the arabs')...

Here in Rome, it is difficult to objectively analyze our position, as it is often contradictory. Suffice to say, that if I (or anyone who posts here) were Caesar, Cairo would probably be a nicer place too. (sorry, give me fifty years?)

I don't watch tv, cept PBS, and I rarely go to movies, but it wouldn't suprise me if Arabs are as stereotypically portrayed as everyone else is. Enough, that is, for other arabs to notice and be offended. What should REALLY offend you is that Hollywood stereotypes HUMANS the way it does. That is, at all.
Of course, I'm sure that's what you meant, just you noticed the one area because it hits you in the nose.

I should expect that HW's portrayal of Arabs (and other minorities in America) will become less stereotypical (some day it'll be as wonderful as it is for us white american males who feel ourselves so truthfully rendered by media culture...) as their share in the market grows. Like with black folk, mostly.
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Postby AlicetheKurious » Sun Jan 20, 2008 6:16 am

Dr. Jack Shaheen Discusses Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People

By Richard H. Curtiss and Delinda C. Hanley


Dr. Jack G. Shaheen is just about as excited as he’s ever been and, for those who know this expert on media stereotyping of Arabs and Muslims, that’s very excited. After 20 years of research Shaheen’s latest book, Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People, is complete, and Interlink Books, Inc. has given it a June 2001 release date. (Previous books include The TV Arab and Arab and Muslim Stereotyping in American Popular Culture.)

The timing of Reel Bad Arabs could not be better. It explains how Israel won its public relations war with Palestinians even before the first rubber-coated steel bullet was fired: American journalists and their audiences have been raised on “bad Arab, good Israeli” images their entire lives.

When he first started investigating and documenting Hollywood’s image of Arabs from 1896 to the present, Shaheen said, he thought he’d “crank out the book in a couple of years.” The trouble was, he soon discovered, more films kept coming out every year, each one even worse than the last. Shaheen reviewed more than 900 films, many of which are all too easily available on network TV, cable, or videocassette. Others he had to find in the Library of Congress, New York City’s Museum of Modern Art, and in film libraries at UCLA and other film centers. Some early silent films have been lost.

Shaheen located the films by searching for Arab names and plots, punching key words like “Arab” and “camel” in computer search engines, and reading reviews of every motion picture made. This took a lot longer than he ever imagined. “After four or five years,” he said, “my friends stopped asking when I was going to finish the book.”

As he researched movies, Shaheen also began collecting material illustrating the treatment of Arabs and other Middle Easterners in eight years of U.S. television for The TV Arab “The ugly images are the same,” Shaheen said, “but in motion pictures there are just more of them.”

Asked if he has seen any improvement in the realistic portrayal of Arabs since he began his research two decades ago, Shaheen demurred. “There seems to be a Saddam Hussain/Osama bin Laden industry in Hollywood, the U.S. military and the news media,” he noted.

The military can justify more peacetime spending if the public believes in the dangerous terrorist villain, he continued. In an age when the U.S. government fights offensive stereotypical images for every other group, Arab and Muslim stereotypes seem to be ignored—or even encouraged. It’s hard to believe, Shaheen said, that in the 21st century, the print and news media, as well as the motion picture industry, can continue to perpetuate this vile image.

In fact, he pointed out, the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as the Army, the Marines, the Navy and the National Guard, have provided technical assistance to Hollywood producers to ensure that films like “The Rules of Engagement” (2000 ), “True Lies” (1994), “Executive Decision” (1996) and “Freedom Strike” (1998) accurately portray U.S. Armed Forces mowing down Arabs. The FBI aided producers of “The Siege” (1998), a movie showing Americans of Arab heritage and Muslim Arabs attacking Manhattan.

Through their association with these films, Shaheen said, the Defense Department at best shows a lack of sensitivity. What do movies that demonize Arabs and Muslims teach American soldiers, especially those serving in the Arab world? he asked. Why would U.S. military officials cooperate with Hollywood producers who have purposely set out to pick on the vast majority of real, and friendly, Arab countries?

Not surprisingly, Israel is a vital part of the equation. Shaheen’s book examines 28 movies with an Israeli connection, released between 1983 and 1998, that vilify Arabs and often feature Palestinians as terrorists. More than half were filmed in Israel and, if the Israeli government didn’t finance the production, it assisted in various ways. The plot of “Death Before Dishonor” (1987) is a perfect example of these “made-in-Israel” films. A fanatical terrorist group attacks an American Embassy compound in the Middle East. It’s up to the hero to become a one-man army, free the abductees, and kill as many Arabs as he can.

The Israeli Connection

For decades Israeli filmmakers and producers have collaborated with their supporters in Hollywood toproduce films with a common theme: Arabs invade the U.S.—New York, Los Angeles, or even a high school in Indiana. Terrorists storm in, take hostages, and kill civilians. Arabs enslave and abuse Africans. While Hollywood concocted “True Lies,” “Wanted Dead or Alive” (1986) and “The Siege,” Israel made “Iron Eagle” (1986), “Chain of Command” (1992), “Death Before Dishonor,” (1987) and “Delta Force” (1986).


Nazis made vile, anti-Semitic films that cannot be shown in movie theaters in Germany because of the messages they carry, Shaheen continued. “Yesterday’s Jewish image is the same as the Arab image today,” he noted. “How different is today’s Arab from yesterday’s Jew: the funny-looking sheikh, wearing the robe, the money grubber who is killing innocents, worshipping another god, trying to take over the world…?”

Why have American studios like Cannon Films, owned and operated by two Israeli producers, Menachem Golan and Yoram Globus, released more than two dozen of these Arab-bashing since 1985, like “Hell Squad” (1985) and “Killing Streets” (1991)? Why would a people who were treated so badly treat others the same way? Why does it keep getting worse?

Dr. Shaheen’s wife, Bernice, catalogued every analysis, singling out the unrelenting slurs, of which the milder ones were “rag heads, towel heads, sons of she-camels, and Ay-Rabs.”

It is inconceivable that similar racial slurs against other ethnic groups would be tolerated in American films today. “It’s an unremitting disaster for generation after generation of Arab Americans,” Dr. Shaheen said, “and no one stands up to say—that’s enough. Where is the outrage?”

Anti-Arab virulence in films has increased in the last three decades just as more news reports in the print media, radio, and TV have focused on radical Arabs and bad guys since 1948
. The news adage seems to be: “ If it bleeds it leads,” Shaheen observed. Along with the demonization of leaders such as Saddam Hussain, Muammar Qaddafi and Ayatollah Khomeini, reporters focus on lunatic fringe extremists, project Arabs as terrorists, use certain phrases to describe Arabs, and report a distorted truth. By and large, every Arab is a terrorist and every Muslim an extremist. Almost never is an Arab Christian portrayed. It’s easy for filmmakers to find a villain, Dr. Shaheen said: “You pick someone who will cause the least trouble, a convenient scapegoat.”

Has Hollywood maligned any other group as much as it has Arabs? Shaheen said that Arab Muslims are right up there with Native American Indians, “who have gotten a bad rap in 1,000 films. While Asians, Jews and Latinos are often stereotyped in the media, the abuse suffered by these groups pales in comparison with Arabs.”

Despite all the recent attention of the TV show “The Sopranos,” Italian-American stereotypes have never come close to the meanness faced by Arab-Americans. At least in the Italian mafia movies and TV shows, they make a little effort to balance the violence with happy Italian families. There are no Arab families in films, Shaheen pointed out. No other ethnic group is the subject of such uniformly unflattering stereotyping.

Why has this happened? Repeating something over and over is a common teaching tool, Dr. Shaheen said, and bombarding viewers with the bad Arab theme and image creates a never-ending stream of prejudice. Repulsive images boost more images.

Speaking candidly, Shaheen admitted it was difficult to finish the book and remain objective after viewing 750 emotionally disturbing movies. “It beats you down,” he said. “You think it can’t get any worse—and it does. You try to stay detached and scientific, but it is difficult to write about such persistent defamation. You begin to take it personally…It’s a double whammy. We [Americans of Arab heritage] are invisible—we don’t exist. Meanwhile, nearly all Arabs on the silver screen are heinous characters. It leads to a denial of heritage.”

It also can lead to serious political reactions, Shaheen said: “Imagine if a Muslim- or Arab-American had bombed the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City—God help us. Timothy McVeigh was never described as an Irish Catholic or a veteran. When one person’s terrible actions are linked to a whole group the effect is disastrous.”
...

“Once upon a time I thought the stereotyping of Arabs was because of ignorance,” he said. “No more. I know it is more straight-out purposeful now. Films vilify Arabs for different reasons, not all political. Some reasons are financial. Arab-bashing is a surefire box office winner.”

And finally, it should be noted that Hollywood exports these films all over the world. Hollywood doesn’t just shape what we think in the U.S., Shaheen warned, but what the global community thinks as well. What about Arab countries that actually import these films? he wondered. Perhaps Arab political leaders don’t worry about attacks on another Arab land’s image as long as their own country is untarnished. But, he said, they don’t realize that to American viewers an Arab is an Arab.

...

http://www.washington-report.org/archiv ... 07103.html
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