Al Josh

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Text Preview Al Jazeera's Josh Rushing talks to some of Hollywood's most prominent Arab voices as he explores Hollywood's influence on how different cultures perceive one another and the stereotypes that often result. "Since movie-making began, the US film industry has often been accused of perpetuating negative stereotypes - the incompetent African-American and the savage Native American, the sinister Asian and Italian mafia mobster are all Hollywood staples. But while American cinema has evolved to depict a more balanced view of many cultures, world events mean that Arabs remain the 'bad guys' of choice poised to threaten the Hollywood hero. From Bedouin thieves to gun-wielding terrorists, Arabs and Muslims are struggling to be cast in a sympathetic light There are concerns from some that as these images permeate the audience's consciousness, so too does misperception and fear. Ironically, it seems that since 9/11, the way in which Arabs are portrayed in Hollywood films has become more nuanced. A number of Arab actors and filmmakers have made names for themselves within the industry and that fame offers the opportunity for Arabs and Muslims to transcend the on-screen stereotypes. Join Al Jazeera's Josh Rushing in conversation with some of the most prominent Arab voices in Hollywood as he explores Hollywood's influence on how different cultures precieve one another.  From the star power of Tony Shalhoub, the legendary Omar Sharif and Star Trek regular Alexander Siddig, to a film about Arab-American frustrations in the aftermath of 9/11, conventions are being actively challenged, and new stories are starting to emerge. VIDEO-Jack Shaheen says: in hollywood arabs are pPortrayed as the cultural other-people we don’t want to assoiate with, people who we fear are ignorant and seen as a threat. People who preach the religion of violence. People who have money and don’t know what to do with it. Hollywood has really helped to perpetuate these myths. The arabs and muslims are the new bad guy. The new convenient bad guys. BUT the negative stereotypes in Hollywood is not new. Shaheen says decades before 9/11 you saw men like James Bond killing the smitherings out of arabs in films. No bad guy as endures as long as arabs Syrians and Lebanese were playing villainous characters in silent films back from 1960s. There was a cycle when Asians and blacks were bad and that cycled over lasted….every group went through a cycle except arabs. In 1970s movies all the hijacking and kidnappings (EX-executive decision by warner brothers, days of our lives) were played by arab actors. TV series-24 is known for showing arabs in a negative limelight For years moviegoers have been offered stereotypical images of the Arab. The stereotype provides myths and misperceptions which then to influence public opinion and limit the formulation of a successful policy in the Mid dle East. The Arab male is portrayed as a contemptible character — cowardly, primitive, ignorant, cruel, vicious, lecherous and, often, fabulously wealthy. An Arab woman is either a sensuous belly dancer, whore, terrorist or a veiled, silent appendage to her husband. Filmmakers too often dip into their script bags for the "Instant Arab Kit." For women, it contains belly dancers' outfits and veils; for men, it consists of kuffiyahs, flowing robes, sunglasses, scimitars, limousines and camels. Oil wells, sand dunes and souks set the scene. In many films released in the mid-1980s, the Hollywood Arab prowls the screen amidst a mishmash of misinformation. Viewers see a disturbing recurrence of similarly negative characters, with inaccurate or stereotypical settings. The interchangeable set of "Arabland" invariably show Israeli and American actors as veiled women in black, shabbily dressed men, ferocious terrorists, belly dancers, armed guards and evil...
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