Once again, Hollywood has demonstrated its affinity for stereotyping all Arabs as ''bad guys,'' in the movie ''Courage Under Fire''.
Dima Hamdan, a sales executive at BYTE Middle East, argues in a recent article published in the Jordan Times daily that Hollywood has a long history of slandering foreigners and various ethnic groups, especially the Arabs. Already in the eighties, Russians and Japanese were good targets for mockery and put-downs by the Americans. Similarly, movies produced by this industry have displayed the Arabs prominently as oil-rich sheikhs, oversexed men desiring Western women, and abusive polygamists.
Dr. Hala Maksoud, president of the ADC (American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee) has contended that: "The image of the Arab is intertwined with U.S. in the Mideast policy in that the Arab image and U.S. policy reinforce each other." She emphasized that the U.S. has been showing disregard for the Arabs, molding them into one stereotype, that of the "enemy".
In films such as "True Lies," "Operation Condor," "Courage Under Fire" and the popular "G. I. Jane," the Arabs are so poorly depicted that one gets the impression that Arabs on the whole are uncultured, ruthless and terrorists. This is true even when it is not explicitly stated.
The problem exists not only in adult films, but in children’s features as well. According to Dr. Jack Shaheen, a member of the board of advisors at the ADC, in the theme song to Walt Disney's "Aladdin", the words portray the main character's homeland as a place where the camels roam and "where they cut your ears if they don't like your face, it's barbaric, but hey, it's home."
Still, there is a spot of light at the end of this tunnel. Recently, the alternative media has tried to present an unbiased stance along with some fresh views and opinions - all with the hope to balance the anti-Arab mannerism.
Unfortunately at this point, with all the efforts of Arab and Islamic bodies, the entertainment world continues to amuse its audience at the expense of the Arabs. It should consider this issue as important as all other major struggles relating to human pain and sufferings.
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )