Re-visioning Arab Identity in US Popular Culture
by Karin Wilkins — University of Texas at Austin
April 25, 2007 – 03:00
The edited clips in this brief video were constructed by Jacqueline Salloum to complement Jack Shaheen’s book Reel Bad Arabs. The underlying concern expressed here is that the Arab identity projected in US popular culture positions members of this community as overly simplistic, barbaric villains, rather than recognizing the contributions, depth and complexity to this community. Moreover, the narratives dominant in US popular culture resonate clearly with the narratives of news and educational media, building on an Orientalist perspective.
These mediated portrayals contribute to a climate of harassment and discrimination among Arab Americans; to misguided and tragic foreign policies and intervention in the Middle East; and to warped knowledge and limited tolerance among others within the US. There are a variety of potential responses to this problem, ranging from attempting to change the media industry from within, to protesting against industry practice, to building alternative media through supporting individual creative professionals as well as media products. What strategy would best address this issue?
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