Real Bad Hollywood

Reel Bad Arabs, is a 2006 documentary directed by Sut Jhally which is based on the book of the internationally acclaimed author and media critic, Dr. Jack G. Shaheen, whose specific topic is the extensive research of the misrepresentation of Arabs and Muslims in film, particularly movies coming out of Hollywood.
The political art journal art threat has published an article by Tim McSorley, from the editorial collective of Montreal based Siafu Magazine, which gives a short introduction to the subject. He summs up:

link to view this trailer enlarged and another link to view a longer excerpt

.. While it’s a pretty sweeping judgment to make – there are plenty of racial, religious or political groups that would argue they’ve been consistently misrepresented by Hollywood – Shaheen backs up his claims with plenty of proof. Reel Bad Arabs, both film and book, are the result of nearly 20 years work, during which Shaheen viewed and analysed 950 films….

… Shaheen admirably shows how US foreign policy and Hollywood are often mutually reinforcing: policy influences media, media influences policy-makers. “We were killing Arabs on the silver screen for decades, so when all of a sudden we decide to go into Iraq, we were used to it – and it certainly didn’t hurt to have this history of stereotypes behind us,” says Shaheen. “In a sense all these films, intentionally or unintentionally, serve as propaganda against all things Arab and Islam.”

But through all this, Shaheen is hopeful. In his new book, Guilty? Hollywood’s Verdict of Arabs after 9/11, due out this summer, Shaheen looks at about 100 more films, half having been produced since 9/11, and sees a stark improvement from his previous work. About 30 percent, including such recent hits as Syriana and Babel, were at least favorable to Arabs and Muslims. ..

Further information on the film can be found at the Media Education Foundation website, on egypt today and through a conversation with author Jack Shaheen on democracy now.

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