The U.S. Media and the Middle East: Image and Perception

The U.S. Media and the Middle East: Image and Perception

The U.S. Media and the Middle East: Image and Perception

The U.S. Media and the Middle East: Image and Perception

Synopsis

In this thought-provoking volume, experts explore the disturbing ramifications of portrayal of the Middle East by the U.S. media; analyze the stereotypes and misconceptions that Americans have of Arabs, Iranians, and other Middle Easterners; and discuss the far-reaching political and cultural impact of the United States on the Middle East. Focusing on the U.S. media (books, magazines, newspapers, motion pictures, television) coverage and portrayal of Arabs, Palestinians, the Intifada, Middle Eastern women, Iran, Islam, Turkey, and the Persian Gulf War, the book also examines the impact of motion picture classics on young children and the perceptions of American students relative to the Middle East.

Excerpt

As this book was nearing completion, human rights groups protested stereotypes of Arabs as terrorists, villains, fanatics, or buffoons in a wide range of U.S. productions from Arnold Schwartzenegger True Lies through Hanna-Barbera Arabian Nights to Disney Aladdin. Of course, there is nothing new to the historic practice of stigmatizing, demonizing, or ridiculing large groups of people with whom the West had long colonial and post colonial but still imperial relations. What is new, however, is the rising dismay and militancy--also demonstrated in this book--targeting the all-important and damaging cultural manifestations of that relationship. Indeed, the movement on the cultural front marks the waning of one era and the emerging of another.

The era that is unraveling is the post-World War II global order. The collapse of the Soviet Union removed the cold war rationale for hot wars in its peripheries and repression at home. The growing crises of waste and pollution, of shrinking opportunities for productive employment, equal dignity and security, and the inability to project a vision of a better society--crises still largely hidden behind the media screen--mark the erosion of U.S. hegemony as well.

The massacre of non-resisting armies and fleeing civilians (misnamed the Persian Gulf War) was the first large-scale non-cold-war-justified open attack on a Middle Eastern country. It was preceded and followed by intermittent bombings of urban targets on flimsy pretexts, covered-up rather than covered in the press, as described in chapters in this book. But open warfare without the cold-war rationale runs increasing risks of loss of popular support, while re-

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