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The film Reel Bad Arabs based on the book by Dr. Jack Shaheen shows how Hollywood has portrayed and stereotyped Arabs and Muslims. Dr. Shaheen narrates how Hollywood vilifies Arabs by pointing at the scenes from various movies. The author argues that the issue of Arabs is a myth that started back before the creation of Hollywood. The myth began in ancient times when Europeans, prticularly French people, fabricated images of Arabs when they traveled to the Middle East. The pictures from the ancient times were passed from one generation to another, and people interpreted and accepted them as presented. According to Dr. Shaheen, the Hollywood movies dehumanize Arabs and depict them as the lower-sort people.
The movies depict Arabs as reluctant, promiscuous, weak, buffoon, and obsessed with the American blond women, among other traits. Hollywood further shows Arabs as violent people who commit atrocities in the name of Allah. The films show that Arabs are a threat to peace and security, especially the Palestinians whom the American department of defense has demonized in collaboration with the Hollywood directors. They linked Palestinians with the offensive characters and terrorists.
The author argues that Islam has also led to the stereotyping of Arabs and Muslims in general. He reports that all the suspects of the 9/11 terrorist attacks were Muslim. He argues that this suspicion was based on stereotyping spearheaded by the Hollywood films. Some of the Christians leaders claim that Islam is a religion of violence and the martyr terrorists who kill innocent people, especially non-Muslims. The author also acknowledges that there are a few film directors who try to project the Arab characters in films at the same humane level as the other non-Arab characters. Moreover, the author reinstates that Arabs are decent people, and films should portray them as such without prejudice.
The film Reel Bad Arabs potrays Arabs as buffoon or fools. In the “Raiders of the Lost Ark” an Arab man challenges a gunman to a duel wielding a sword, which is a joke. In “Cannonball Run 2” a rich sheikh seems not to know the value of money and orders 12 suites in a hotel. In the Bonfire of the Vanities a character jokes a plane full of Arabs with their goats and sheep. Another person in the film Chapter 2, when asked how England is, responds that it is full of Arabs. In addition, in Back to the Future the gunman and his driver look like jokers, when the gun jams and the car fails to restart at the same time, allowing their suspect to escape. Consequently, movies depict Arabs as easy to fool around with.
Somes movie depict Arab men as obsessed with the blonde American or Western women, as shown in various movie excerpts. In the Cannonball Run 2 the rich and stupid sheik admits to a woman that blonde women are his weakness. In the Jewels of the Nile Sheik Omar is obsessed with the blondes prompting him to trick one of them to accompany him back to the Arab land only to imprison her. The obsession of Arabs with the blonde women is further depicted in Never say Never Again, when a woman tied to the pole is stripped naked and auctioned to the primitively-looking Arabs. In the Sahara, a woman is abducted and presented to an Arab sheik who keeps her for his pleasures. This film shows that Arabs are weak and incompetent, as depicted also in the True Lie, where the terrorist swore in front of the camera that he would detonate a bomb by turning on a key that is already gone, and ends up dead before carrying out his threats.
The film further portrays Arabs and Muslims as violent terrorists who deserve to die. After the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the oil embargo of 1970s, and the Iranian revolution, Hollywood began portraying Arabs and Muslims, especially Palestinians, as terrorists who even engage women in their terror endeavors. This stereotyping grew, as shown in the mmovie Earnest in the Army, where a money-grabbing sheik is a terrorist who is determined to launch plutonium-laden missile to kill the Muslim adversaries. This trend of violent Arabs is consistent with the movie Death before Dishonor, where a Palestinian woman terrorist and her counterparts kill a U.S. Marine and Israeli family. In the same movie a Palestinian attacks the American embassy. Similarly, in the movie Delta Force, Palestinian terrorists hijacked a plane, and then targeted Jewish passengers. In addition, films such as the Navy Seal, Iron Eagle, and the Rules of Engagement, portray Muslims and Arabs as people who should be killed with justification provided only when required.
However, the author highlights positive attributes of Arabs and Muslims as depicted in some films. The Three Kings and the Kingdom of Heaven shows decent Arabs running away from persecution by the Saddam Hussein’s men and depicts respective religious tolerance.
The real issue is the stereotyping of Muslims and Arabs that has been developed over many years. People make unjustified conclusions bout the issues involving Muslims. The movie shows that when terrorists attacked Oklahoma in 1995, it was concluded that the attackers were of the Middle Eastern origin because of the magnitude of the bomb. Moreover, the projected causalities were characterized as a method used by the Middle Easten terrorist groups. The same happened with the 9/11 attack, when suspects were of the Muslim or Arab origin. These depictions aligned with the idea of orientalism, which was discussed in the class. In the early centuries European depicted Arabs in the pictorial forms, and the current world pushes the same ideas forward with the help of films. In addition, it is no longer the affairs of Hollywood alone to spread stereotyping of Arabs, as many Americans have established non-profit organizations that are “anti-jihadist”. These organizations lay allegations on Muslims without proof.