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Introduction

In the modern era of technologies and information pressure people’s views are generally formed by television and cinematography. The former has become the most popular form of entertainment, thus, significantly affecting one’s perspectives and their formation. In fact, many of people’s stereotypes are formed under the influence of different movies and the perspectives which the author implements. One of the most prominent and well-known conglomerates of film-making studios are situated in Hollywood, Los-Angeles, the USA. Many of the best films as well as many of stereotypes were born there. Hollywood is a foundry of art, gossips, and stereotypes. However, sometimes these stereotypes do have significant negative implications, thus, drastically worsening public’s attitude towards that aspect. Arabs have become victims of Hollywood production. Many of Hollywood producers are depicting Arab men as sleazy sheikhs and terrorists (Duthler & Yunis, 2011). Although it is hard to distinctively determine, but women have been also significantly stereotyped. Unfortunately, this applies not only to Arabic appearance, but also to their culture, religion, and economics. It must be said that Muslim men are nowadays seen as de-facto terrorists or very rich people while women are silent and unfriendly partners of previously mentioned terrorists or sheikhs. It is important to understand that Hollywood films are the form of art and as such, should not be taken as reliable resource of information. On the contrary, people should always analyze information that they receive from cinema`s screen and consider it as entertainment part. Therefore, Hollywood should stop portraying Muslims with the negative light as it has been doing in a very humiliating and wrong way to other cultures from many sides, such as Islamic religion beliefs, economy system, and behaviors.

Religion

The image of Muslims in most people’s opinion can vary, but general tendency to negatively perceive Muslims can be observed. After decades of mass films production which were intentionally or unintentionally depicting Arabs in negative light people have started to consider Muslims either terrorists or sympathetic to terrorists, and they have been suspected and distrusted. Lots of books, articles, and films have depicted Muslims in a derogatory and extreme manner. (Abdullah, 2015, p. 52) In fact, these stereotypes have gone so far that many people all over the world would rather not have a Muslim coworker and would prefer not to communicate with them. On the other hand, women are seen totally dominated by males without any rights or needs. Additionally, Muslim women are depicted as mysterious and wordless human beings that usually wear face-covering clothes. Arabs are well-known to be very religious people, which is true despite all existing stereotypes. They perfume several religious ceremonies with responsibility. However, there are many religious aspects that people misunderstand. Thus, “… the media distort many Islamic concepts such as prayer, recitation, and ablution to achieve their aim” (Abdullah, 2015, p. 52). People tend to forget that Christians as well as Muslims have done many improper things. They even fail to understand the true meaning of the word “Jihad” and unjustly associate it with violent acts and wars while “Jihad” can be any kind of internal or external struggle that Muslims have to face every day. (Abdullah, 2015, p.52) Jihads and Crusades were incredibly common in the Middle Ages and were usually based on other thing than religion. They both share a significant portion of ceremonies that were viewed negatively only due to Christian Church and the elite affords in the Middle Ages to depict Muslims with negative light. (Abdullah, 2015, p.52) This is not only extremely unpolite in the modern world, but also has significant impact on the relationships with Muslims on the grand scale.

Culture

It was already mentioned that Muslims are usually depicted as violent, rude, and rather extreme people. Hence, many of Hollywood films have taken this stereotype and amplified it to an extreme degree. Therefore, modern films that feature any Arabs are usually full of violence, rape, murder, and other brutal things. Main antagonists are played by Arabs who are usually terrorists or extremists, and their women are silent companions with grim countenance. Both men and women speak the Arabic language that is not commonly followed by subtitles. Film such as Beirut by Brad Anderson is one of the examples of Hollywood disregard to actual Arabs (Hamad, 2018). In the film, Muslims depicted according to all already mentioned stereotypes: terrorists, rapists, murderers, extremists, and that list can be continued seemingly indefinitely. It is also worth mentioning that western people are shown as superior to eastern counterpart. “Arabs are depicted as carriers of primitivism—[both] threatening to upset our cozy modern world with their strange habits and desires. (Shaheen, 2003, p.175) The status of women in the Arab world is mostly misunderstood. Muslim women are exposed to western public as people without feelings, right or any kind of self-respect whose solely purpose is to satisfy men’s needs and serve as a slave rather than loving wife and mother. They are humiliated, demonized, and eroticized in more than 50 feature films. (Shaheen, 2003, p.183) This is, however, simply not true because Arab women are as gentle and beautiful as western women; they are also loving wives and mothers. It is true, however, that Muslim men can have several spouses and it is well-know that sultans did have harems, but those women were taken care of and provided with all the necessary things for almost luxurious life.

Economy

The idea that all Arabs are rich is incredibly common amid western society. It must be said that this stereotype is the most realistic as it is based not only on the historical evidence, but also on modern events. Most of the world petroleum is acquired by the Arabs. In addition, the UAE is one of the richest countries in the entire world. In fact, despite single occurrence, one cannot judge all Muslims. Many of the Arabic countries are extremely poor. Nowadays, Palestine and Syria are such examples. They are currently at war and both, despite having rich oil deposits, are very poor countries. This is very contradictory to what Hollywood and western elite had tried to demonstrate, “Arabs are brute murderers, sleazy rapists, religious fanatics, oil-rich dimwits, and abusers of women.” (Shaheen, 2003, p.172). The image of the Arab people inside and outside as was already expressed can vary. In fact, many of the western people seem to have subconscious disgust for all east world. The following quote describes the general description of Arab by average western men, “Pause and visualize the reel Arab. What do you see? Black beard, headdress, dark sunglasses. In the background –a limousine, harem maidens, oil wells, camels. Or perhaps he is brandishing an automatic weapon, crazy hate in his eyes and Allah on his lips.” (Shaheen, 2003, p.172). It can be already understood that centuries of distrust, suspicion, and hatred have left sever scars on west-east relationships; thus, both counterparts are struggling with the same problems, namely how to stabilize and revert these negative implications. Muslims are proud people with substation self-respect. In fact, the medicine, mathematics, physics were born in the Middle East. This point means highly cultural and educational development of all Muslims.

 

Counter arguments and Refutations

Hollywood has indeed depicted all Muslims (Arabs) as uneducated primitives that only know violence or on the contrary, as wealthy people with sever behavioral deviations. However, Hollywood has developed and started to let people see what is behind the lens. They have acknowledged the problem and are now proceeding with great caution. They are even willingly to film lives of the Arabs to refute general stereotypes about Muslims. It is proved by the fact that “The founding father of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan is set to be the subject of a new Hollywood movie produced by STX Films.” (Arab News, 2018). This can be perceived as a huge step towards understanding Middle East values, people, religion, and culture. This fact one can find as an inevitable consequence of informational globalization and extensive spread of multicultural communication.

Another important point that one should understand is that people are generally the same all around the world. Arab women are as lovely and beautiful as the western ones. They are also loving wives and mothers, despite Muslims can be married to several women, it rarely occurs in the modern world. It is important to understand that men should ensure that all spouses are equally provided with goods and attention, thus, harems simply do not occur at all. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that nowadays Arab women are actively involved in technology development, art, and especially in so-called digital revolution. (Usher, 2018) Thus, they should be treated with respect and understanding. They are not simple dummies, but individuals that are moving progress forward.

Conclusions

To summarize, it must be said that our world is in the healthy era of tolerance. Many stereotypes are being refuted and replaced with genuine feelings of unity, patience, and absolute understanding. Although it will take some time for Hollywood and Media to refrain from further usage of offensive and dismissive stereotypes regarding Arab people, eventually such patterns will completely disappear from cinemas and media.

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Comments

  • good 

  • Dear Bella Willow ,

    It's certainly true that Hollywood has a knack for creating memorable films and, unfortunately, some persistent stereotypes. While the silver screen can dazzle us with tales of fiction and fantasy, one must remember that it's not a mirror of reality. Just like we wouldn't expect to find a school of wizardry by running into a train platform wall, we shouldn't base our understanding of a culture or religion on the portrayals scripted for entertainment. After all, if we believed everything we saw in the movies, we'd all be waiting for our next-door neighbor to reveal their secret superhero identity!

  • Hi Bella, my daughter spends more than half of the day watching the television. I agree with you, most of her information are derived from there. Nice and useful topic.

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