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Cue evil Arabs

Cue evil Arabs

Mission: Impossible IV may be filmed partly in Dubai, apparently. What’s to be gained for the emirate? Arab baddies and terrorists galore, judging by Hollywood’s previous form.

August 18, 2010 3:48 by

The only tangible benefits I can think of, therefore, would be extra hotel income from the crew, and a little excitement around the event, translating into more interest in the domestic film industry (hopefully) and a higher gross when the film opens at the cinema here.
In my opinion, all this should be weighed against a potential – and important – negative consequence of hosting the film here. As with all these productions, there is an almost inevitable fear that Hollywood will once again misrepresent Arabs. If they’re setting a film about secret agents here in the Middle East, it seems likely that Arabs will feature, but their historic representation in Hollywood has been terrible.
In his highly regarded book, Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood vilifies a people, author Jack G Shaheen says, “What is an Arab? In countless films, Hollywood alleges the answer: Arabs are brute murderers, sleazy rapists, religious fanatics, oil-rich dimwits, and abusers of women.”
“Arabs-as-villain images have been around for more than a century, reaching and affecting most of the world’s six billion people. From the earliest silent films of the 1880s, damaging portraits have become so prevalent that viewers of film and TV shows demonstrating these stereotypes may come to perceive reel Arabs as real ones.”
Shaheen’s book takes the form of a list, which charts the depiction of almost every Arab character in Hollywood as a terrorist or other bad guy. So far the Mission: Impossible films have managed to avoid inclusion on this list, but none of them have so far been set in the Middle East. Hopefully the fourth installment will stick to this trend, but if not, the benefits to the UAE may not outweigh the harm to the region and the people.
As Shaheen observes, “Heinous images do not fade into the sunset. They continue to impact viewers without let-up, via TV repeats, big screen revivals, the internet and movie rentals. Regretfully, they wreak their damaging psychological havoc on us all, inflaming bigotry and xenophobia.”
Hardly worth it, just to say, “M:I IV was filmed partly in Dubai.”

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1 Comment

  1. Mo on August 19, 2010 7:49 am

    You completely miss the point! The industry needs this… it is all very easy to focus on the negative without doing any homework isn’t it. Unsubscribe.


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