Reel Bad Arabs

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This groundbreaking documentary dissects a slanderous aspect of cinematic history that has run virtually unchallenged from 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 film challenges viewers to recognize the urgent need for counter-narratives that do justice to the diversity and humanity of Arab people and the reality and richness of Arab history and culture.
The film is narrated and has all dialogue by Dr. Jack Sheehan, an expert on the subject. That would make this a boring movie it wasnt for the many, many familiar films that are weaved into the arguments and done so seamlessly.Though its easy to just say that there are racist Arab stereotypes in Hollywood, thousands of films were reviewed to make this film. I can imagine the backlash that would be going on right now if blacks were depicted today with the same amount of racisms that Arabs are depicted with in Hollywood. This film forces us to take a step back and look at how our subconscious is being manipulated in the name of entertainment. It can be especially dangerous when the showing of these images have political motives behind them.

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