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:
Interesting but flawed See more (7 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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18 out of 47 people found the following review useful.
Interesting but flawed, 28 March 2008
Author: spirit-of-1969 from United States

There is no doubt that Arabs, like almost any non-White group, have been stereotyped and demeaned in countless films. But Dr. Shaheen's argument - that any portrayal of Arabs as terrorists is inherently racist - is a flawed one. The fact is that there are Arab terrorists out there, just as there are Irish, Basque, Japanese, and home-grown White American terrorists in the world, and as long they continue to commit atrocities they are fair game to be movie villains. What is needed, however, is more "normal" roles for Arab actors (i.e. characters that White actors could play with no change to the script). When, in Sin City, Irish mercenaries planted explosives in an attempt to kill the protagonist there was no out-cry from public, no protestations that the movie attempted to stereotype all Irish Catholics as IRA members and terrorists. This is because everyday we see in television shows and movies perfectly normal Irish Catholic characters. Shaheen is right that ubiquitous images of Arab terrorists, especially since they already play into our existing stereotypes, do nothing for our national discourse nor our sense of tolerance. But I wish he had stayed away from proclaiming ALL such representations off-limits. It's hard enough to keep up with existing PC taboos...

Note: While I have devoted this review to an evaluation of the documentary's argument, my score of 4/10 comes also from the poor technical aspects of the "film." It is really just an extended interview with a talking head. Expect to see it in college classrooms but rarely elsewhere.

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