American media has a long history of using stereotypes to support foreign policy, military presence abroad and domestic divides. From caricatures of the Japanese 'Yellow Threat' during the Second World War, to misrepresentations of Native Americans in America's Wild West, to the typecasting of Middle Eastern cultures as incubators of religious extremism, popular media often follows whichever current of fear grips with the largest fascination of the moment.
Join us in conversation with community leaders as they respond to film clips from a documentary called Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People, a companion film to Jack Shaheen's book of the same title. Speakers will talk about how they deal with Islamophobia in their own communities and audience members will have the chance to ask questions about how to best confront Islamophobia when it presents itself.
This program is a partnership with Muslim Educational Trust, Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, Oregon Historical Society and World Affairs Council.
About the Film
Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People
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 U.S. 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.