Reel Bad Arabs

The following is in response to Sut Jhally‘s documentary “Reel Bad Arabs.”

The Arabic Club at Georgia Southern University showed the film “Reel Bad Arabs.” This documentary unearths how movies produced in Hollywood vilify the Arab people by generalizing or telling flat-out lies about the culture. The stereotypes used in films are: The bad Arab character that is always evil and portrayed as a “terrorist” causing explosions, offenses and attacks; The shallow/silly Arab character that is always naive, pursuing only fun, lust and extravagance; The Bedouin Arab character, that is remotely far from civilization and science, and is often accompanied by “tent” and “camel” images; The arrogant Arab character that is very nervous, repressive of women, and the farthest possible from emotions or romance.

This documentary reminded me a lot about what I wrote in my essay “Float Like A Plane, Sting Like A Bomb: The Ethics of US Drone Attacks”:

Because of media sycophants like war activist John Brennan, a White House counterterrorism adviser, many people see the drones as “angels of death”—an angelic technology that metes out justice on the behalf of the United States. Calling drones “angels of death” asserts the notion that targeted killings is an accepted action from a religious standpoint, but this is a laugh in the face of all Abrahamic teachings of the Golden Rule or its international equivalent the Principle of Universality. Many Americans develop a bloated sense of patriotism, a media-fed consciousness that hosts binaries of “us,” the citizens of the United States, and “them,” a category that all peoples of middle-eastern descent gets clumped into. This consciousness nourishes phrases like “there are only enemies, a world of them.” They do not see that women and children in these “enemy” countries are often the ones subjected to the devastation of Hellfire missiles from drone strikes. As long as there are these “angels of death” around, they feel safe in their beds—as long as the newspapers, the TV interviews with counterterrorists, and press releases from the Pentagon, show us that more Al-Qaeda members have died in drone attacks (Duff). To use a reference from popular culture: the “one ring” from the Lord of the Rings series is the drone, a simple thing that represents the terror of human will. Consumers of corporate media look at a group of middle-eastern people and categorize all of them as “terrorists”, just as orcs categorize all Halflings as “Hobbits,” even though there are Baggins, Tooks, and Brandybucks just as there are Kurds, Ibadis, and Berbers, while the United States—dark lord Sauron—polices middle-east—“middle-earth”—chanting maniacally, “One drone to rule them all, one drone to find them, one drone to bring them all and in the darkness kill them!”

You can read the rest of essay on my blog or The Southern Praxis.


About evinhughes

I am a graduate of Georgia Southern University. I have a bachelors degree in Information Technology and a bachelors in Writing and Linguistics.
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2 Responses to Reel Bad Arabs

  1. efahuq says:

    I wish you extended this review, tying it to present Gaza scenario and Pakistan crisis. We could print this for the next Praxis issue.


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