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Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People (2006)

This groundbreaking documentary dissects a slanderous aspect of cinematic history that has run virtually unchallenged form the earliest days of silent film to today's biggest Hollywood ... See full summary »

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Jack Shaheen ...
Himself - Narrator (as Dr. Jack Shaheen)
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This groundbreaking documentary dissects a slanderous aspect of cinematic history that has run virtually unchallenged form the earliest days of silent film to today's biggest Hollywood blockbusters. Featuring acclaimed author Dr. Jack Shaheen, the film explores a long line of degrading images of Arabs--from Bedouin bandits and submissive maidens to sinister sheikhs and gun-wielding "terrorists"--along the way offering devastating insights into the origin of these stereotypic images, their development at key points in US history, and why they matter so much today. Shaheen shows how the persistence of these images over time has served to naturalize prejudicial attitudes toward Arabs and Arab culture, in the process reinforcing a narrow view of individual Arabs and the effects of specific US domestic and international policies on their lives. By inspiring critical thinking about the social, political, and basic human consequences of leaving these Hollywood caricatures unexamined, the ... Written by MEF

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How Hollywood Vilifies a People


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1 November 2006 (USA)  »

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Reel Bad Arabs  »

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$100,000 (estimated)
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A powerful documentary
30 March 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This 50-minute documentary analyzes the way Arabs have been shown in Hollywod films, from the black-and-white classics to recent films like Syriana. The film, narrated by Jack Shaheen, consists of virtually non-stop clips from American films, organized by topic, including "Myths of Arabland," "the Arab Threat," "Terror, Inc.," "The Only Good Arab," "Islamophobia," and "Getting Real." The thesis of the film is that Hollywood has perpetuated stereotypes of Arabs as violent, greedy, and oversexed, stereotypes that would not be tolerated of other groups such as Blacks and Jews. Shaheen argues that the films are an aspect of an American view of Arabs that is broadly shared by common people and by the politically powerful, and he includes a number of films that have been made with the cooperation of the Department of Defense. The impact of his footage is quite powerful. In the last segment Shaheen talks about several recent films that begin to break down the stereotypes. He ends with an expression of hope in young, creative filmmakers who are moving beyond the ignorant and bigoted depictions from Hollywood's past.


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