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 »


Jeremy Earp, Sut Jhally



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Credited cast:
Bo Derek ... (archive footage)
Ana Obregón ... Catalina (archive footage)
Jack Shaheen Jack Shaheen ... Self - Narrator (as Dr. Jack Shaheen)


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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Unsettling yet unforgettable documentary on dehumanization
13 July 2007 | by lisalaurineSee all my reviews

Kudos to Dr. Jack Shaheen for his no nonsense and uncomforting look at how not only Hollywood movies but even children's cartoon shows have demonized, dehumanized and wrought havoc on the peoples of the Middle East, Islam, Iran and Palestinians. From the early pre-20th century colonial images of Arabs and Iranians as the aggressive, sub-human Other, Reel Bad Arabs dives into 100 plus years of movies that have stereotype Arabs as lecherous, dangerous and lesser from both children and adult movies. The saddening part of this demonization is that most of these stereotypes are practically unnoticeable to any movie goer or viewer. No matter how many time one watches movies where the Middle East is automatically associated with terror or oppression of women will one think of an alternative more positive or balanced view of the region or the peoples who live there. The negative stereotype of Arabs and Iranians have passed through so many generations continuously through frequent television stations such as FX, Spike TV, TNT, & even Cartoon Network (older repeating cartoon shows from the early 30's & 40's vilify and insult the culture and hertiage of the Middle East) it is little wonder the War on Terror wasn't criticized until four to five years after it started on September 11! As Shaheen argues we have been so ingrained, propagandized and filled with the negative images of Arabs and Iranians as people who are lesser or "The Other" that it is little wonder wars in Iraq, Palestine-Israel, Sudan continues and the deaths of Iraqis, Palestinians, Israelis and Darfuris do not matter or count as newsworthy to the general public. High recommendation for all students, parents and politicians who fail to see what generations of negative stereotyping can have on a society as a whole!

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Release Date:

1 November 2006 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Reel Bad Arabs See more »


Box Office


$100,000 (estimated)
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