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

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Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People -- Against the chaotic backdrop of ongoing war and conflict in the Middle East and rising fears of terrorism in the West, the makers of the critically-acclaimed documentaries Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land and Edward Said: On Orientalism have produ


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Release Date:
1 November 2006 (USA) See more »
How Hollywood Vilifies a People
This groundbreaking documentary dissects a slanderous aspect of cinematic history that has run virtually... See more » | Add synopsis »
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User Reviews:
It has a point, but it's poorly executed and rather unnecessary See more (8 total) »


Jack Shaheen ... Himself - Narrator (as Dr. Jack Shaheen)

Directed by
Jeremy Earp 
Sut Jhally 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Jeremy Earp 
Jack Shaheen 

Produced by
Jeremy Earp .... producer
Original Music by
Simon Shaheen 
Film Editing by
Sut Jhally 
Andrew Killoy 
Mary Patierno 
Other crew
Jason Young .... production assistant

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
USA:50 min (original release)

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Features Never Say Never Again (1983)See more »


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9 out of 40 people found the following review useful.
It has a point, but it's poorly executed and rather unnecessary, 10 November 2009
Author: johnmichael-2 from United States

The point of this documentary: Arabs, Palestinians, and Muslims are unfairly portrayed in cinema. Sure. I believe that. But so are most minorities. Everybody knows this.

There are many, many flaws in this documentary. First, it assumes that we are stupid, and that we believe everything Hollywood tells us. Wrong. I am friends with quite a few Muslims, and I don't think they're terrorists. Nor do I watch many movies with Arab stereotypes. In fact, of all the movies cited in the documentary, I've only seen "Aladdin." And when I do see stereotypes, I can differentiate them from real life. This documentary even gives existing examples of positive Arab portrayals in films like "Syriana," "Three Kings," and "Kingdom of Heaven." Gee, how groundbreaking. If Shaheen can find the good Arab roles, then any movie audience can, too. And they can recognize them.

Secondly, this documentary poorly made. "Reel Bad Arabs" is, as another reviewer said, a talking head giving examples. And it's only one talking head. Any work of nonfiction, whether it be a documentary or a news article or a book, cannot survive on one expert opinion alone. And this documentary definitely doesn't. The narrator, Jack Shaheen doesn't even have screen presence. This documentary is just 50 minutes of him whining into a camera in an effort to advertise his book on the same subject.

Thirdly, this movie is unnecessary. Here's the basic point: Some movies stereotype Arabs, but there are also some movies that don't. What Jack Shaheen should have done was just to give us a list of the "bad" movies and a list of the "good" movies and leave it at that. That would have taken two minutes at most, instead of this fifty-minute run-on. We would have been able to figure out what the stereotypes were (once again, we're not stupid), and that the good portrayals were the ones where Arabs acted like actual human beings.

P.S. Did anyone else notice how Shaheen used the original line from "Arabian Nights" (Aladdin)--"Where they cut off your ear/ If they don't like your face"--when nobody sees that version anymore? All video released use the line: "Where it's flat and immense/ And the heat is intense." That controversy was closed off long ago and is now irrelevant. Like the rest of this documentary.

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