Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People

reel bad arabs


  • Sunday, September 15, 2013 at 2 pm
    Multnomah County Library Central Library, U.S. Bank Room, 810 SW 10th Avenue
    Featuring a discussion of the film with Kimberly Brown, Portland State University Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics
  • Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 7pm
    Smith Memorial Student Union room 236,1825 SW Broadway
    Featuring a discussion of the film with James P Grehan, Portland State University Associate Professor of History and Middle East Studies Center Director

About the Documentary

Against the chaotic backdrop of ongoing war and conflict in the Middle East and rising fears of terrorism in the West, the makers of the critically-acclaimed documentaries Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land and Edward Said: On Orientalism have produced a powerful and important new film based on Jack Shaheen’s bestselling book, Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People.

Reel Bad Arabs takes a devastating tour of the American cinematic landscape, moving from the earliest days of silent film to today’s biggest Hollywood blockbusters to reveal an astonishing pattern of slanderous Arab stereotyping. The documentary isolates and examines America’s most persistent Arab caricatures, from oversexed Bedouin bandits and submissive maidens to sinister sheikhs and blood-thirsty terrorists, providing striking insights into the origin of these images, their disturbing similarities to anti-Semitic and other racist and ethnocentrist stereotypes, and their resurgence and political resonance during key moments of crisis in U.S. history.

By inspiring us to reflect critically on the social and political consequences of Hollywood’s long love affair with Arab villainy and buffoonery, Reel Bad Arabs challenges us in the end to envision counter-narratives that do justice to the complexity and humanity of Arab people, and the reality and richness of Arab history and culture.