Arabs Not the First: To Be Blown Away by the Movies

By Marrison, James | Afterimage, March-April 2004 | Go to article overview

Arabs Not the First: To Be Blown Away by the Movies


Marrison, James, Afterimage


In the 1950s "Reds" were gunned down in droves by Mickey Spillane's sadistic private eye Mike Hammer, while on the big screen G-men hunted down evil double-crossing "Commies" and blasted them. Take for instance this extract from Mickey Spillane's best seller One Lonely Night, published in 1951:

     "I was evil for the good. I was evil and he knew it. I was worse
than they were, so much worse that they couldn't stand the comparison.
I had one good efficient enjoyable way of getting rid of cancerous
Commies. I killed them."

Now Hollywood has another bad guy--the Arab terrorist--and he's getting mown down with equal vigor.

Dr. J.G. Shaheen is Professor Emeritus of Mass Communications at Southern Illinois University and is the world's foremost authority on media images of Arabs and Muslims. He serves as a consultant with motion picture and television companies such as Dream Works, Warner Brothers, Hanna-Barbera Productions, and Showtime and regularly discusses media stereotypes on national programs and networks such as CNN and The Today Show. According to Shaheen, cinema has villanized Arabs and Muslims more than any other people and for a longer period of time. "We were gunning down subhuman Arabs way before 9/11," he said.

According to Shaheen, in movies it would seem that brutal, heartless uncivilized Arabs are hell bent on terrorizing innocent Westerners. In his study of how Arabs are portrayed in the movies for his groundbreaking book Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People (Interlink Publishing Group, 2001) he discovered that Arabs are now without doubt Public Enemy #1. More often than not Arab males all ride camels and are out to abduct the blue-eyed blonde, while women in the Arab world are seen as "bosomy belly dancers" or "mute and submissive". We never see Arab children unless they are out to steal your wallet. "Most Arabs have never slept in a tent nor ridden a camel nor owned an oil well," he said. "The Arabs' humanity and culture is all erased. Instead of focusing on images of commonality, films are focusing on the differences between us. Most Arabs are family people," Shaheen said. "If there was one word used to describe them, it is family."

When asked to choose his most extreme example of Arab-bashing Shaheen instantly chose Rules of Engagement (d. W. Friedkin, 2000), a film he points out that was produced with the cooperation of the American Department of Defense. The scene: Samuel L. Jackson (as Colonel Terry Childers) tells his marines "to waste those mother******s" and then guns down "83 men, women, and children." Shaheen also cited True Lies (d. J. Cameron, 1994) where Arnold Schwarzenegger "guns down Palestinians like targets in a shooting gallery."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Equating the stereotyping of Arabs with murderous hordes of Indians in Westerns and Jews in Nazi Germany, the results of such stereotyping can, says Shaheen, end in annihilation. Worse, Hollywood has, in the face of Arab stereotyping remained silent--a sure sign for Shaheen that it is likely to continue. "There is no Hollywood star or mogul with sufficient courage to reveal it and condemn it," Shaheen said.

The hatred and the fear of the Arab world, like the fear of communism, does not, Shaheen argues, come from personal contact. Rather "we are taught to hate them. It comes from the fictional bombardment of media images. It comes from what our media teaches us. Movies teach us who we should love and who we should hate. 150 countries have been taught to hate everything that is Arab and Muslim ... The longer it continues without being contradicted the more opportunity there is for men and women to be hurt. There is tremendous fear in the Arab community. If your name's Hussein, change it to Harry."

Today, according to Shaheen, the only images of the Arab world that the majority of Americans ever see is the image given to them by movies. Movies played endlessly on cable--Shaheen points out--last forever. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Arabs Not the First: To Be Blown Away by the Movies
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.