Reel Bad Arabs

Reel Bad Arabs

Reel Bad Arabs is a new and important documentary that investigates how Hollywood denigrates Arabs. This movie is based on the book by Jack Shaheen, who explores how Hollywood alters and distorts the image of Arabs. Hollywood makes viewers of its movies believe that all Arab men are bandits and terrorists and all Arab women are either submissive servants or seductive belly dancers. In the documentary, Jack Shaheen studies many images of Arabs represented by the US film industry. He shows various scenes from American movies and proves that such images are unworthy and false. Moreover, Jack Shaheen explains the reasons for creating provocative pictures. He makes clear why the production of such movies is increasing and discusses its importance for the American history. Jack Shaheen examines the origin of such stereotypic images and explains why this issue is so important today.

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Hollywood stereotypes Arabs and speaks ill of the whole nationality from terrorists and Bedouin criminals to sheiks and obedient girls. Shaheen shows how the obstinate continuance of these stereotypes has made them more convincing. The prejudices regarding Arabs and the Arabic culture are nothing else than just a narrow view of people of other cultures. Shaheen encourages individuals to think critically about what they see in Hollywood movies that abuse Arabs. Such pictures cannot be unexamined. People should broaden their minds and judge another nationality and culture fairly and impartially. Arabs, like other nationalities, are different; they can be kind, hospitable, and peaceful. The Arabic history and culture are rich as well.

Americans have a narrow outlook regarding everything connected with Muslims. The government is responsible for this situation as the contemporary political strategies affect Americans through the media. During the twentieth century, especially in the period of the Cold War, the US government positioned Muslims as the US allies. However, according to Shaheen, nowadays Hollywood movies represent Arabs in a bad light when speaking about such events as the September 11 attacks, high oil prices in the U.S., and the revolution in Iran and Al-Qaeda. The political issues play a great role in depicting Arabs in US movies in such distorted ways (Earp & Jhally, 2006).

Shaheen also speaks about the deformation of the truthful image of Arab women. They are intelligent and gifted; they have the rights and work in various spheres (Earp & Jhally, 2006). Not every Arab woman is a belly dancer that seduces men. Not many of them are terrorists and extremists. The truth completely differs from what Hollywood depicts.

They poison the minds of children and young people as well because they describe Arabs as the villainous nation. The movie shows the vivid example of the Disney cartoon Aladdin, which is full of racist ideas, deceit, and not openly expressed xenophobia.

It is true that religious extremists blacken the reputation of all nationalities of the Middle East. However, it is wrong to think that all these people can be dangerous. Moreover, many of the unsafe Islamic states are not Arabic.

Hollywood is a propaganda film industry; it stereotypes not only separaate individuals, but also the whole countries, cultures, and nationalities. There are few actual, impartial, and objective facts and stories in Hollywood pictures. Hollywood is boring and foreseeable; it restricts the people’s outlook. 

Peter Gottschalk and Gabriel Greenberg in their book Islamophobia: Making Muslims the Enemy present the same positions, ideas, and aims as Jack Shaheen. The authors show how “political” movies and cartoons dramatically influence the Americans’ minds, making the people hate Muslims. The goals and significance of Reel Bad Arabs as well as Islamophobia are to open the people’s minds and make them think differently about Arabs (Gottschalk & Greenberg, 2008).

To sum up, Reel Bad Arabs is an exciting documentary that highlights the important issue of our time. Over thirty Hollywood movies humiliate Arabs and show them in a bad light. Jack Shaheen uncovers and presents things that the media have hidden for many years. He expertly and clearly compares Muslims and shows considerable understanding and sympathy towards the Arabs.

This documentary emphasizes that the mass media support and promote the US hostility against Muslims. Unfortunately, many Americans live without understanding that they have a particular position in life due to the influence of mass media. Hollywood movies program the people’s minds and make them think in a certain way, which is convenient for them. This impact on the people’s minds is so cautious and constant, that it affects insensibly; people do not notice it.

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