Reel Bad Arabs
Hollywood is good at stereotypes. Simple struggles of good versus evil, heroes against villains, can be a safe bet for box office success. Those stereotypes can have a strong impact in the real world. Film is a powerful force for shaping our imagination and our perception of reality. For decades, one of Hollywood’s favorite villains has been the Arab. Dirty, mean, greedy and stupid but lethal, the Arab film stereotype persists, even as other film cliches fall by the wayside. When was the last time you saw a positive and realistic portrayal of an Arab in a Hollywood film?
Interview by David Barsamian.
Recorded at the Taos Talking Picture Festival.
Jack Shaheen wrote Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People. He was Professor Emeritus of Mass Communications at Southern Illinois University and a former CBS News consultant on the Middle East. Hetackled anti-Arab stereotyping in pop culture and media. Jack Shaheen passed away in July 2017 at the age of 81.