S1o1- Racism as A Social Problem (Morning session) Summary #5
Malcolm x, Malcolm X was an African-American Muslim minister and human rights activist once said “the media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make innocents guilty and make guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the mind of the masses”. In the article “Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood vilifies a people”, Jack Shaheen analyses and explains how Arabs have become victims of Hollywood movies. Shaheen explained in this article how these “live images on big screen and television go beyond thousand words in perpetuating stereotypes”. This article explains how the masses are led to believe negative stereotypes against Arabs and Muslims. Based on Shaheen’s study, he showed how movie goers are led to think or believe that all Muslims are Arab or that all Arabs are Muslim. These movies portray Arabs as heartless, uncivilized, religion fanatics, and demonstrating love for wealth and power. The purpose of Shadeen’s study was to show how the defamation from the old days until this present day and to get people to see past these slanderous stereotypes and see instead its effect on the public as a whole.
Hollywood have repeatedly portrayed Arabs as the number one public enemy. According to Shaheen’s study, Arabs in movies or tv shows are shown as black beard, headdress, dark sunglasses, with weapon or a crazy hate in their eyes with a limousine, maidens in the background. In Hollywood movies, the bad Arab character is always evil and shown to the public as a “terrorist” causing explosions, shootings, stabbings, offenses and attacks. An example of this is shown in the two movies The Sheik produced in 1921 and The Son of the Sheik produced in 1926. In these two movies, Arab characters were represented as thieves, charlatans, murderers, and brutes. This leads into how Sheikhs are portrayed. According to this study, the word sheik means “wise elderly person or head of a family”. Contrary to its original meaning, Hollywood moviemakers have attached a different meaning to that word. Instead of portraying them as wise elderly people, they are portrayed as wealthy “stooges-in-sheets” always after maiden. Another interesting thing about this article is the fact that Arabs have made many contributions to civilization around the world. There are multiple examples of Arabs contribution to civilization and they include scientist like Leonardo Da Vinci, Arabic numbers came the zero, derived from the Arabic al-sifr; algebra, from al-jabr and logarithm, from al-Khawarizmi, the name of its founder, also in the field of health, we owe much to the Arabs. Avicenna, compiled a great medical work entitled al-Qanun which was used in the universities of western Europe for some 500 years and lastly in astronomy, Arabs used astrolabes for navigation.
In conclusion, in the film Blaxploitation Cartoons like Arabs black people were portrayed as violent, big lipped, muscular, savages and uncivilized. Just like in the movie get out where the white folks assumed that if you are black, you are most likely to like sport, the cartoons also portray black men as muscular men who are involved in sports. Just as Arabs are shown as terrorist on screens, Black folks in the cartoon were also portrayed as wild animals because they live in a jungle.
x, Malcolm. “Malcolm X Quotes.” BrainyQuote, Xplore, www.brainyquote.com/authors/malcolm_x.
Salloum, Habeeb. “Part 1: The Impact Of The Arabs On Western Civilization.” Arab America, 18 July 2017, www.arabamerica.com/part-1-impact-arabs-western-civilization/.
Shaheen, Jack. “Product Review: Reel Bad Arabs Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People. 50 minutes. 2007. Jack Shaheen. Sut Jhally, Director. Media Education Foundation. (800) 897-0089. Purchase: $250.00.” Teaching Sociology, vol. 36, no. 4, 2008, pp. 407-409.