Hollywood’s Portrayal of the Arabs

One of the things I really liked about the TV show Heroes is that it portrayed non-white people as actual normal human beings.  You had Asian people who weren’t just bumbling extras.  Hiro was a friendly and good-natured guy who was just out to save the world.  And, you had Indian characters who weren’t just people with funny accents to be ridiculed by the rednecks of the nation.  Sadly, that’s certainly the exception.  The overwhelming majority of movies and TV (and, consequently, public opinion) in the United States is stacked against brown people.

Thanks to Digg, I recently cam across a 9-minute YouTube video titled Planet of the Arabs helps highlight some of the details.  The original Digg post provides some interesting statistics:

Planet of the Arabs is a powerful 9 minute collage of racist stereotyping of Arabs in movies.Out of 1000 films that have Arab & Muslim characters (from the year 1896 to 2000) 12 were positive depictions, 52 were even handed and the rest of the 900 and so were negative. A montage of Hollywood’s relentless dehumanization of Arabs and Muslims.

What’s saddest is that a lot of Americans think this is just fine.  After all, it’s not just a few masterminds in Hollywood that are coming up with this stuff – there’s a true demand for it.  Even friends of mine will start to giggle when they see any non-white person enter a scene on a TV show or movie.  I don’t see these stereotypes changing anytime soon, though. 


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