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Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People Paperback – July 31, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Interlink Publishing Group; First Edition edition (July 31, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566563887
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566563888
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,958,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Shaheen (mass communication, Southern Illinois Univ.; Arab and Muslim Stereotypes in American Popular Culture) has written a meticulous, passionate, and very articulate description of the persistent and prolonged vilification of Arab peoples in mainstream Western movies. Offering primarily reviews of the 900 films he has seen or researched over 20 years, he documents a century of offensive stereotypes and shows how the image of the "dirty Arab" has reemerged over the last 30 years, even as other groups have more or less successfully fought to eliminate the use of racist stereotypes. The appendixes include lists of the best and worst depictions of Arabs in popular films, alternate titles, a list of epithets thrown at Arabs in films, and a list of the fictional locations used in films. Although the work is aimed at a college-level audience, the clear writing and lack of jargon make it accessible to a much wider readership. Highly recommended for academic and large public libraries, as well as for other libraries with collections dealing with racism or Arab culture. [For more on Islamic culture, see "A Misundersood Faith," p. 82-83. Ed.] Andrea Slonosky, Long Island Univ., Brooklyn, N.
- Andrea Slonosky, Long Island Univ., Brooklyn, NY
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"Shaheen has written a meticulous, passionate, and very articulate description of the persistent and prolonged vilification of Arab peoples in mainstream Western movies... Although the work is aimed at a college-level audience, the clear writing and lack of jargon make it accessible to a much wider readership. Highly recommended..." --Library Journal<br /><br />"Shaheen has written a meticulous, passionate, and very articulate description of the persistent and prolonged vilification of Arab peoples in mainstream Western movies... Although the work is aimed at a college-level audience, the clear writing and lack of jargon make it accessible to a much wider readership. Highly recommended..." --Library Journal<br /><br />Jack Shaheen continues to be a piercing laser of fairness and sanity in pointing out Hollywood's ongoing egregious smearing of Arabs. Rippling with smart insights, his book should be read by everyone who agrees that knowledge is society's greatest tool in battling all kinds of stereotypes. --Library Journal

"Jack Shaheen continues to be a piercing laser of fairness and sanity in pointing out Hollywood's ongoing egregious smearing of Arabs. Rippling with smart insights, his book should be read by everyone who agrees that knowledge is society's greatest tool in battling all kinds of stereotypes." --Howard Rosenberg, Los Angeles Times TV Critic --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

The book brings up an issue that is becomming natural in our life.
S. Farra
Unlike Said, this book is a little more accessible to read and the main points are well summarized in the introduction.
F. Al Sumait
In Reel Bad Arabs, Dr. Shaheen shows us how we, the West, have come to depict "Arabs" as different from us.
Olive Dove

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 83 people found the following review helpful By S. MacDermid on July 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
Jack Shaheen's blockbuster book "REEL BAD ARABS: How Hollywood Vilifies a People" blows the cover on the film industry's century-long free ride in smearing Arab Muslims. What Shaheen spent the past 20 years researching should have been and can now become grist for where it's vital to plant the seeds of understanding and tolerance, namely, in the groves of academia.
Young Americans in film and communications courses need to face up to some pretty disturbing facts about how Hollywood has gotten away with defaming a people. The motion picture industry has made huge amounts of money by destroying the good name of nearly 300 million innocent men and women of the Arab world.
As Shaheen's REEL BAD ARABS documents the shameful vilification of an entire people, tests for college students should include questions like these:
1. How do you think Americans form their ideas about what is taking place in the Middle East?
2. How effective do you think movies are in shaping the way Americans think about the Arabs, especially Palestinians, and about the "peace process" in the region?
3. Do such perceptions impact public opinion and policy?
4. What movies can you name that presented Arabs in anything but a bad light as terrorists, oil monopolists, lechers and other villains?
5. How effective do you think movies are in manipulating the way we Americans see 'The Other,' namely Arabs, as The Enemy?
Besides the psychological and political side of his subject, Jack Shaheen has provided us with a wonderful guide to nearly 1,000 films. In spite of the bias this book lays out all too clearly, it nevertheless is guaranteed to provide much pleasure for the reader at the same time as it opens her eyes to the facts.
REEL BAD ARABS should be in every library in America and abroad, as well as on film-studio reference shelves to prick the conscience of every film producer and director and script-writer from Hollywood to Haifa.
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55 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Philip M. Kayal, Ph.D. on July 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
Reel Bad Arabs is an essential read for anyone concerned about fairness, objectivity and stereotyping. A brilliantly gathered documentation of a little known or appreciated history of how "Hollywood vilifies people," in this case, Arabs and Arab Americans. Jack Shaheen is a great scholar. How anyone would have the patience to review so many films, over such a long period of time, simply escapes me. And he is not terribly ideological or biased himself! What he does is simply point out a consistent pattern, film by film, on how Arabs are depicted in film. The book is long overdue, extremely well documented, and an easy read. The alphabetized entries give a plot summary and then focus on the presentation or role of "the Arab" in the story. Sometimes history is rewritten, facts ignored, and truths disregarded just for the sake of vilification or plot continuity. To counter this in general, the book opens with needed information on who Arabs and Arab-Americans really are and how these facticities differ from their depiction as sheikhs, harem owners, villains, bandits, mummies, and, for the women, maidens in distress.
While not a goal of the author, the book is a history of Hollywood and the development of American political positions on the Middle East. Shaheen identifies Exodus as the most effective movie in shaping American perceptions of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Hardly a balanced film, this Palestinian bashing movie and others that were filmed in Israel and/or produced by Israelis in cooperation with the Israeli government, illustrate how negative Arab mages impact our attitudes about Arab Muslims, Palestinians in particular, regardless of fact. If only Hollywood stopped there, but it didn't. like a runaway train, the defamation continues.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 23, 2003
Format: Paperback
Shaheen's book is a fact-based, detailed example of how the media can negatively distort the personality of an ethnic group. For all those looking to fight bigotry and racism, read this book as a rallying point. Let's face it: there is good and bad in every eithnicity, gender and race. There is good and bad in all people regardless of religious choice. There is good and bad in families, communities, cities, states, etc.
The more we segregate through negative, subliminal messages about the color of our skin or the language we speak or the religion we practice, then the more we build walls between people that have more in common than they have different.
Shaheen's book should be a call to action for media moguls to change their mode of operations. Fine, depict arabs as villians, but also depict them as heroes....heroes fighting fires, hereos saving lives in an ER, heroes coaching a bunch of high school kids to a championship football game, heroes as police officers...or as senators, congressmen and cabinet members. All these types of heroes exist as Arab-Americans, Muslim-Americans, Irish-Catholic Americans, Jewish Americans, Hispanic Americans, African Americans, etc.. Not all Italian-Americans are mafia killers -- right? Not all Catholic priests are bad...the overwhelming majority are hard-working practicing Christians.
Seems ludicrous that these point shave to be made, but the reel bad ememies are those that generalize and throw a hate blanket over the masses. Read this book not only if you're an Arab, but also if you're looking to fight bigotry in general. You will gain confidence that there are a lot of examples to support your cause...a common cause.
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