Reel Bad Arabs Author Jack Shaheen to Co-Host National Television Event


Beginning tonight, longtime MEF friend and collaborator Jack Shaheen, the bestselling author and film scholar featured in our documentary Reel Bad Arabs, will co-host a month-long Turner Classic Movies (TCM) film series focusing on portrayals of Arabs in cinema. Tuesday and Thursday nights throughout July, as part of the network’s Race and Hollywood: Arab Images on Film initiative, Shaheen will join TCM host Robert Osborne to introduce a wide range of films and discuss Hollywood’s depictions of Arabs and Muslims from the earliest days of cinema up to the present.

The series will group films according to four major themes: Early Images, including Douglas Fairbanks in The Thief of Bagdad (1924); Epics, including Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Lion of the Desert (1981); Arabs as Subject of Ridicule, including Ali Baba Goes to Town (1937) and Jerry Lewis in Sad Sack (1957); and Even-Handed Portrayals, including George Clooney in Three Kings (1999).

Several years ago, we had the honor of teaming up with Dr. Shaheen to adapt his bestselling book Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People into a film. With this new TCM series, we are thrilled that audiences across the country will be able to hear Dr. Shaheen’s latest insights by simply turning on their TVs. We applaud TCM, a mainstream media outlet, for having the courage to shed light on the serious issue of racial representations in film. But, at the same time, we also encourage viewers to watch this series with the same critical eye Dr. Shaheen has long brought to bear on corporate media content.

“When colleagues ask whether today’s reel Arabs are more stereotypical than yesteryear’s” Dr. Shaheen has written,” I can’t say the celluloid Arab has changed. He is what he has always been – the cultural ‘other.’ Arabs have too often been viewed as backward, barbaric and dangerously different through Hollywood’s distorted lens. Unfortunately, these stereotypes are now deeply ingrained in American cinema.”

MEF’s Reel Bad Arabs offers an even more in-depth understanding of Dr. Shaheen’s analysis. Through exploring the degrading history of Arab stereotypes in Hollywood film, this film offers devastating insights into how these stereotypic images have resonated at key moments in U.S. history, and why they matter so much today.

More information about Reel Bad Arabs.

More information about “Arab Images on Film” and Dr. Jack Shaheen.