Arab Image Ltd.

Friday, October 12, 2007


From the seducing tribesman to the controlling sheik to the bomb-wielding terrorist, Hollywood has consistently broad brushed Arabs with caricature and cliché. But can an Arab be an American film hero? Hollywood is starting to believe that he can.

Comments [4]

Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Glad I checked for what I missed in the pledge break on WNYC, much as I enjoyed Brook mentioning my old friend from WYBC, Andrea.

The good humor of Real Bad Arabs sits very well with me and for Tony Shaloub to return to the restaurant business, as he did for Stanley Tucci in Big Night, is also charmingly gracious.

In case anyone forgot, he did yeoman's labor as Denzel Washington's Arab-American partner in the eerily prescient Siege, a startlingly un-Hollywood style grappling with our national habit (to borrow a phrase from one of your guests) of scapegoating.

Whether left over bile for the Armenian genocide by the Ottoman Empire or for the Saracens during the Crusades, nothing the Arab tribes have done is any worse than what America did to its Indian tribes.

We're all villains and we're all clowns.

Oct. 15 2007 02:52 AM
fred from usa

seems like selective blindness. who else were portrayed as stock villians in hollywood films? how about eastern european/communists and of course during the big action period the racist and vaguely south african white dudes. not every villian was arab, and its not as if they were chosen for no reason. acts of terror happened long before 9/11, a great many involving arabs and the middle east with hostage taking, hijacking, bombings galore. movies do reflect their times and the middle east and arabs were by no means peaceful during these times. ripped from the headlines aspect makes films more relevant to audiences, so these people complaining about just arab portrayals are missing the big picture. frankly they maybe complaining too much. its not as if we see apologetic politically correct "positive portrayals" of any of the other stock villians of the action era.

Oct. 14 2007 05:38 AM
T. Jay from Niles, Michigan

Another beloved "Arab in films" would be the actor (not ethnically from the Middle East) who plays the backer of Ben-Hur in the chariot competition who is sort of a proto-Arab who loans out his four Arabian stallions. I remember somehow that that movie won a lot of the major ACADEMY AWARDs that year - - that Arab character who manages to seem quirky is truly yet one of the "good guys" from that epic classic.

Oct. 13 2007 08:02 AM
Marian from North Carolina

Omar Sharif! You forgot him entirely. Certainly no negative Arab image there. Hunka, hunka. And didn't Anthony Quinn and Victor Mature 'play' good, heroic Arabs? All pre-9/11, of course, but your piece went all the way back to silent films... Perhaps facility w/the English language for Hollywood was more important than you gave it credit?

(Posted by "Marian")

Oct. 13 2007 07:10 AM

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