EDUCATION AND MEDIA: "Evil" Arabs in American Popular Film: Orientalist Fear

By Alsultany, Evelyn | The Middle East Journal, Spring 2007 | Go to article overview

EDUCATION AND MEDIA: "Evil" Arabs in American Popular Film: Orientalist Fear


Alsultany, Evelyn, The Middle East Journal


EDUCATION AND MEDIA "Evil" Arabs in American Popular Film: Orientalist Fear, by Tim Jon Semmerling. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2006. viii + 255 pages. Bibl. to p. 285. Index to p. 303. $55 cloth; $22.95 paper.

Reviewed by Evelyn Alsultany

Tim Jon Semmerling's "Evil" Arabs in American Popular Film: Orientalist Fear is a welcome addition to studies on representations of Arabs and the Middle East in the US media. Semmerling argues that representations of the "evil" Arab in American popular films are self-interested constructions that have been created in relation to US ideologies and myths. Though a simplistic argument, the book unravels US narratives of "self and "Other" at different historical moments from the post-Vietnam War period to 9/11. In addition to an introduction and conclusion, the book is organized around six chapters, each on one film: The Exorcist ( 1973); Rollover ( 1981 ); Black Sunday (1976); Three Kings (1999); Rules of Engagement (2000); and CNN's America Remembers (2002). Each chapter offers a close reading of the visual tropes and narrative structures of the film, with attention to the ways in which the narrative reveals a form of US insecurity during a particular historical period.

The introduction provides a review of some writings on media and discourse analysis and US interests in the Middle East. Chapter one, which is fascinating, examines the film The Exorcist, demonstrating that not all Orientalist films have a distinct Arab character. Semmerling states that most film critics ignore the first few minutes of the film, which begins in the Middle East and establishes that the demon is from Iraq, representing an example of Orientalist fear and assault on the image of the US as a modern, civilized, and secure place. Chapter two, on Rollover, examines how the film is based on a narrative about the United States as a capitalist center of wealth and power threatened by Arabs, thereby tapping into US nationalist fears of economic insecurity in the aftermath of the 1973 oil embargo. Chapter three, on Black Sunday, examines an America weakened in the period following the Vietnam War, but saved from Arab savagery and terrorism by a powerful Israel. Chapter four, on Three Kings, continues the theme of the frontier, narrating a strong, remasculinized, and victorious America after the 1991 Gulf War, while questioning the value of victory. Chapter five, on Rules of Engagement, offers a compelling analysis regarding how the film is an attack on multiculturalism and political correctness and opens a space for anti-Arab racism. …

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

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

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.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

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 article

EDUCATION AND MEDIA: "Evil" Arabs in American Popular Film: Orientalist Fear
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.
    Sign up now 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.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.