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Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People Paperback – 28 Mar 2015

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Product details

  • Paperback: 617 pages
  • Publisher: Interlink Books; 4th edition (28 Mar. 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566567521
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566567527
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 295,519 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Caricatured villains are as vital to the movie business as car chases and shoot-outs. But the spotlight of derision shifts. When blacks were no longer shiftless jokes, the Asians no longer the Yellow Peril, and good Indians no longer had to be dead Indians, Arabs became the all-purpose bad-guys. Countless movies have portrayed them as loathsome lechers who terrorize, murder, and finally die in droves. In 'Reel Bad Arabs' scholar Jack Shaheen exposes in appalling detail this nightmare side of the Hollywood dream machine. --Christopher Dickey, Middle East Editor for Newsweek Magazine

About the Author

Jack G. Shaheen, a former CBS News consultant on Middle East affairs, is the world's foremost authority on media images of Arabs and Muslims. He is the author of 'Guilty: Hollywood's Verdict on Arabs after 9/11, Arab and Muslim Stereotyping in American Popular Culture', 'Nuclear War Films', and the award-winning 'TV Arab'.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Jack Shaheen (Professor Emeritus of Mass Communications at Southern Illinois University) has produced an exhaustive study of anti-Arab bias in films from the silent films of the early 1900s to the present.
It's a depressing account. Arabs are treated as sub-humans. They are killed like pigeons in films like 'Rules of Engagement' and 'True Lies'. Few have spoken out against this blatant racism.
It has been allowed to become part of popular culture virtually unchallenged.
If you substituted any other racial group (with the possible exception of the North Koreans!) these slurs would create an uproar.
Jack Shaheen acted as a consultant on the film 'Three Kings' which was unusual in giving a more sensitive and complex depiction of Arabs. Since 9/11 and the war against and occupation of Iraq, however, the Movie industry has reverted to type.
All this has a political effect. One can only imagine how it colours perception of the war in Iraq and the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.
A timely work.
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Lovely book that tells reveals a lot of what the people seem to ignore. Reality as Arabian people are dehumanized for entertainment and support for wars. No one cares.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars 39 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for Hollywood history and today 19 Jan. 2015
By J. Ferguson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent book that goes into depth about the hundreds of depictions of Arabs and Muslims in Hollywood film. Each listing has a brief synopsis of the movie and a relevant scene showing the trope. It's a good read, an easy read to follow, and evenhanded (it lists movies that have a positive depiction of Arabs or Muslims along with movies that are quite racist). It has a Best and Worst list as well, and the author makes a persuasive case.
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a book to have. Buy it. 28 Jan. 2015
By Intelligent2022 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wow this book had me seated for days. And I could not put this book down it simply just gave answers to how this Hollywood culture had given Arabs and Islam a evil face. Long ago when going up, I always thought of why movies had made Arabs and Muslims look like they was all evil. But researching and surfing the net I came across this book and when found, I purchased this book. Also this book gives list of thousands of names for movies that had depicted Arabs and Muslims as evil villains. And gives description of every movie.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye-opening book 19 July 2007
By Houdini - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dr. Shaheen's book in an eye-opener when it comes to exploration of the vilification of Arabs in Hollywood films, however it is a must read for all Americans. What's shocking is the consistency by which Hollywood has depicted Arabs as evil or backwards since the inception of film, and all of this prior to the events of 9/11. In example after example, Dr. Shaheen shows how Arabs are constantly depicted as terrorists, stupid, greedy, megalomaniacs, misogynists, backwards or just plain evil. Equally disturbing is the dearth of any positive Arab characters in films such as fathers, mothers, doctors or heros.

Dr. Shaheen doesn't make the argument that all portrayals of Arabs should be positive, just that there need be a balance. Like it or not, Hollywood's films contribute to perceptions throughout the world. Aside from the barrage on the self-esteem of young Arab-Americans, stereotypical portrayals such as this are dangerous as they justify violence and civil rights violations that will eventually affect all Americans.

To think this book only affects Arabs and Arab-Americans would be a mistake. Once civil liberties are violated for one group, others will follow. I highly recommend it.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a century of bigotry 5 Aug. 2012
By Michael Klossner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Some Amazon users reviewing Jack Shaheen's Reel Bad Arabs have written that many
ethnic groups have been villains in Hollywood films. But it is clear from
Shaheen's book that vilification of Arabs in U.S. films has been going on for
a century. In early silents, almost every ethnic group, other than Northern
Europeans and Americans descended from them, was disparaged in many films,
including Jews. Anti-Semitism in films abruptly vanished in the 1920s when
film production was consolidated under the major studios, most of which were
run by Jews. Gradually bigotry against other groups, such as Italians,
became non-respectable and disappeared from films. During World War II
the Germans and Japanese were of course vilifed, but prejudice against Chinese
vanished from films for the first time. And after the war, the Germans and
Japanese were quickly rehabilitated as their countries became U.S. allies.
Bigotry against blacks became non-respectable and mostly disappeared from
films in the 1950s, during the Civil Rights movement. Hispanics were treated
with respect a while later, I would say beginning in the 1960s, although there
had always been Zorro and the Cisco Kid. Only Arabs have been targeted
consistently for generations.

A user's review says that 71% of American films have American villains. But these
films also probably all have American heroes. Even films with bad Americans and
good foreigners wouldn't cause Americans to dislike themselves, but decades of
Arab-baiting in Hollywood have helped make Arabs and Muslims in general so
disliked that politicians have concluded that attacking them is a good way to
get elected. Documenting this makes Shaheen's book one of the most important
books to appear in the past several years.
14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good work on Anti-Arab/Islamophobic tendencies in Hollywood Movies 30 Mar. 2006
By Edgar Hopida - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Stereotypes are created not born. Living in a post-9/11 world and the attitudes that Americans have on Islam, Muslims, and Arabs, we can see how Hollywood has place a bit of a role. Jack Shaheen catalogues over 900 films, most of which have negative stereotypes about Arabs and Muslims. With movies and other media being constantly consumed by the masses, when something it shown to them over and over again, it becomes ingrained into the psyche. As for the reviewers who say that the stereotypes are the truth are probably that 13 % who hate Arabs and Muslims no matter what. We cannot blame an entire religion or race for the acts of a few. This book exposes the danger of presenting stereotypes in films and how a people get villified for it.
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