Planet of the Arabs
Tags: discourse/language, gender, media, nationalism, race/ethnicity, social construction, culture, masculinity, orientalism, othering, representation, 06 to 10 mins
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
7/16/2012 03:54:19 am
The poster connected to your site that reads "Blaming Islam for Terrorism is like Blaming Christianity for Colonialism... Stop Islamophobia!" is not a good analogy. In fact, Christianity (and other religions) often go hand in hand to pacify, manipulate, and control indigenous peoples. Missionaries when hand-in hand with colonizers not to enlighten people, but to help enslave them. So by the poster's logic, blaming Islam for terrorism IS equal to blaming Christianity for colonialism..
7/16/2012 05:57:59 am
L.Turner: I respectfully think you're missing the analogy boat a bit....your own logic proves the poster's point. Missionaries are the people who act to force specific beliefs and practices of Christianity on others. It is not the religion itself but the people who view themselves as agents of power/change/even "good will" or those who adopt to take 'extreme action' in the name of their own version of a religion (extremists or terrorists). Where you stand depends on where you sit....
7/17/2012 11:41:31 pm
Mr. Turner you are correct. Currently I am reading through old Missionary documents to find some information regarding Sri Lanka (then Ceylon). I can quote from their own writings they came to force people to their religious beliefs. They may not be so aggressive like the Muslims but what matters is the motive and the act.
8/9/2012 08:13:14 pm
Which film does the third clip from the end come from?
8/28/2012 01:02:52 am
Dear L. Turner,
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