Arabs dates back to colonial times

The mistaken belief that many people have about Arabs dates back to colonial times. These beliefs about their culture and religion, which brings them out as villains, terrorists, among others, and the way that they are viewed as persons continue to exist in the present day. Over the years, other ethnic groups have been stereotyped, but this ends with time. Muslims and Arabs are referred to as ‘the other.’ It has robbed them of their social position in society as many people, including the media, have used these mistaken beliefs in creating Hollywood films that depict a negative image of Arabs. This paper explores the Arabian culture while identifying the aspects that make them the most maligned group in Hollywood (Shaheen, 2003).

As the movie begins, Arabs are shown to be killing people inhumanely. Shaheen says that Arabs are viewed as people who are not fully human. They are presented as terrorists. An example is in the Aladdin movie, Arabs are seen to be evil in the film, and the opening song is associated with terrorist acts in that if the face of a person is not liked, then their ear is cut off. When one is portraying an Arab in Hollywood, then they are given the villain role.

The geographical landscape of Arab is also linked to their religion. For instance, when the movie begins, Arab land is shown as a desert. Shaheen says that this kind of image was gotten from the Europeans. The rich Arab men are not seen as men but as people who dress expensively and lure harem girls (Shaheen, 2003). In the 9th to 10th image, in the movie called Samson Against the Sheik, these girls are maids. So, they do not attract the attention of these men, and, therefore, they have to abduct them against their own will. As such, when Hollywood makes movies and uses these stereotypes for Arabian characters, it shows that they are ignorant of the world and therefore making the Arabians the most maligned group in Hollywood.

Arabian women in the codified accompaniments that Shaheen shows in the “Alibaba kit” shows women dressed in outfits and belly dancing to their male counterparts who eye for them. The Arabian land is seen to be full of myths, and residents ride on magical flying carpets and also charm snakes such as Cobras using their flutes. Despite these being Hollywood classical movies that can make one assume that they were created out of ignorance, it is surprising that the trend continues even in some new fairy tales such as Aladdin. In the documentary, the Arab men as thugs, palace guards, sorcerers, and even beggars (Shaheen, 2003). Early in the literature, a man admits to his master that he stole jewel by cutting some throats. The men in Aladdin are seen to be very short; some have gaps in their teeth, showing missing teeth, their lips are very thick, and they are cruel. For instance, when Jasmine gives a hungry boy an apple, and she cannot afford to pay for it, an angry Arabian man wants to cut off her hand.   The earlier illustration of Arabs is even seen in the opening song, the “Arabian Nights.”

This kind of presentation has severe socio-cultural and political consequences. For instance, racial discrimination has been spiked up among the Arabs. Media portray them as villains that have been normalized in almost all societies around the world. For instance, in the 18th image, where the film “Raiders of the Lost Ark” is played in the documentary, an Arab is shot by the main character who is Indiana Jones. It is taken as a joke, like a death joke (Shaheen, 2003).

Hollywood filmmakers portray the Arabs in the same manner. As villains, inhumane as they play characters that murder people, the rich men are seen to lure harem girls while the poor men omit crimes. Women are presented as submissive and inferior. For instance, in image 20, when the man called Mr. Habib is buying a house, and the wife tries to give her opinion, the man shouts at her to keep quiet. It means that Arab men mistreat women.

Another impact is that it promotes over-reliance on stereotypes. The use of stereotypes can dilute the real challenges that are being faced by Arabs. For instance, the men being portrayed as weak and beggars in Aladdin could be a real-life experience by the men. Instead of getting help, then that is stereotyped as a characteristic of Arab men.

Lastly, stereotypes can promote hate crimes. The Arabs can kill more in the name of their image of society. For instance, the man who kills some men to get a jewel must have only killed because that is the stereotype assigned to the Arabs.

Stereotyping Arabs dates way back to earlier times. However, the image remains today in society despite civilization. Many Hollywood filmmakers are using old beliefs in making their films right now. It is even though not all Arabs are that way. One image is used as a representative of the whole population, and this shows the ignorance in media and Hollywood filmmakers as they are doing more harm to Arabs and Muslims, and hence, that is why they are the most maligned group in Hollywood history.

Question 3:

When talking about Arab land, then it is indicated as a land that is nothing more than the first image shown in the documentary of Rankin Bass. The landscape is shown as just a dry mass of land that is covered with deserts. This is even though Arab land has beautiful places such as the oases, the statues, temples that give nuance in their culture. However, this is not the image in the mind of a European.  The image that was created long ago is still being used. Arab land is like an exotic land that is very strange to a European. The presentation of Arab land to the world, as told by Shaheen, is only but fiction. A fiction whose image is repeated over and over again that it is believed to be the truth. For years, this image has never been recreated.

In society today, women from Arab land show a higher attendance for higher education. The numbers are way higher when compared to men. However, this is replaced by the media stereotype shown by Arabic women. Hollywood does not display all these things about them. In any case, it gives a different picture of the world. In the documentary by Shaheen, they are given the role of Harem girls. When they do not show interest in their masters, then they are abducted against their own will. The women are also sexualized. Shaheen shows us women dancing for men while wearing transparent clothes to lure them. As Shaheen states, these practices have a long history and are rooted in the Orient image, a place which is defined as intriguing and full of passion. The Arab woman is, however, presently presented as a terrorist who is “blood-thirsty.” It is clearly shown in the film in “Never Say Never Again” film of 1983. Even though they are given more power in this manner, Shaheen still refers to them as “Bundles in Black.” The women wear clothes that cover them from head to toe, and these clothes are always black. The idea of sexualizing the women and calling them such names because of the way they dress, therefore, shows them as people who submit to men and inferior to them.

These stereotypes developed on women have an adverse political, socio-cultural, and economic impact on their lives as a whole. For instance, they are limited in funding. The funds that are distributed to them will be lower than they can get as their submissive nature will be used against them. People will assume that since they are subordinates to their husbands, then their husbands can take advantage of this and take all the funds from them, leaving them the same way.

They are also denied innovation opportunities. The stereotypes in society do not expose women to environments where they can be themselves and engage in innovative activities for their good. Moreover, those who venture into innovative activities can experience failure as they are seen as sexual objects and wives, not businesswomen.

Another effect is that stereotypes deny their leadership opportunities. They are not able to express their political opinions in a society that denies them that power. Most Arabic women have to fight for their leadership positions. In other areas such as education in different countries, then the stereotypes deny them leadership roles as they cannot be easily trusted. Countries like the United States have deeply developed their mistaken beliefs about the Arab women that when one talks about them, then the terrorist picture comes to mind.

The image presented of them as recorded in Hollywood films does not only harm them but also their future generations. Younger kids watch these films, and they take what is resented there as it is. When they see women being controlled, then they assume that it is the way it should be. As such, these stereotypes are transferred from one generation to the next. That explains the never-ending cycle of an unchanged image among the Arabs and their culture.

The women are also denied educational opportunities, such as getting scholarships. The impression created by the media that women are only but supposed to be submissive to men creates the impression of a society that is not interested in education. As such, their real needs go unrecognized, and they are left living the stereotyped lives in real sense.

The Arabian image that has been sold out to the world is only false representation. Media has a way of creating an image in people’s minds such that it sticks to be the image of a certain group of people when otherwise, there is more to them. In the Reel Bad Arabs documentary, Obeidallah says that they are from the same country as Aladdin, who is portrayed as more American than the other characters. This means that the image given to them is a false one, and they are not complicated but the same people as Americans, with the only difference being in culture. It should, therefore, be embraced and presented as it is


Shaheen, J. G. (2003). Reel bad Arabs: How Hollywood vilifies a people. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 588(1), 171-193.

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