Summary: The caption below this trailer-esque, YouTube montage by Jaqueline Salloum describes it as exposing "Hollywood's relentless vilification and dehumanization of Arabs and Muslims." Much like the Avatar video remix, also posted on The Sociological Cinema, "Planet of the Arabs" works as a media literacy tool for deconstructing how the Arab or Muslim Other is portrayed in mainstream media. The clip draws footage from varied sources, ranging from James Cameron's action-packed "True Lies" to an episode of Jim Henson's playful creation, "The Muppet Show." The clip demonstrates that Arabs and Muslims are consistently depicted as religious fanatics, perpetual terrorists, backwards, and irredeemably tribal. While Instructors can certainly ask students to articulate these representations, they can also press students to contemplate how these depictions of Arabs and Muslims help construct an American national identity. At about 2 minutes, the remixed clip echoes the idea that "they are attacking our way of life." In other words, the media consistently propagates the idea that the Muslim or Arab terrorist is not only a threat to life, but also Western civilization. Taking the analysis a bit further, students can be asked to consider how these depictions of Arabs and Muslims are simultaneously about constructing not only an American identity, but an American masculine identity. In several places, one sees how an American masculinity, characterized by stoicism and poise, is set in direct contrast to an irrational, Islamic fanatic or an incompetent Arab buffoon. As Salloum suggests, the clip might work well with Jack Shaheen's book, Reel Bad Arabs, which reviews the Arab and Muslim stereotypes in 900 films and was researched over a period of 20 years. The clip would also work well in tandem with Edward Said's landmark book, Orientalism.
Submitted By: Lester Andrist