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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Bias, Stereotypes, Prejudice, Racism... A Bit of The Truth.

Some Emiratis and Saudis are concerned that the portrayal of Arabs as terrorists in the movie The Kingdom is yet another example of the "Arab Terrorist" stereotype being propagated by the US media... Others aren't quite as concerned, especially since one of the Arab characters is supposed to be a kick-ass good guy.
I won't see the film until it comes out on DVD, so my response won't be very knowledgeable, but my guess is that while the credibility of the action sequences may be questionable, the plot is probably very believable. To deny that some Arabs' behavior is the reason such stereotypes exist would be naive.
And don't think that Arabs aren't guilty of sterotyping others too... If you believed all their political cartoons, all Americans are cowboys bent on taking over the world and shagging any Jewish allies along the way (when the Jews aren't busy drinking the blood of Arab babies. that is). And don't get me started on how badly they depict Indians and Pakistanis in their entertainment media too.
It's not racist to acknowledge facts and statistics... It's only racist to believe ALL of a certain race are predisposed to certain behaviors, which I don't think this movie does.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to adjust my burqa, go feed my camels, cook for my husband (it's my turn this week, then it's wife number 4's turn next week), and yell at my driver for showing up so late to take me to the mall yesterday.


Saudi Stepford Wife-Daisy said...

I simply luv Arab stereotypes of others, they defy any type of logic in many cases. I've sat comparing notes with a Shia woman before- we both were awestruck at the sheer ridiculousness of what we'd heard of "the other".

I know your a busy woman but, after your done feeding the camels you have to go beat your maid. I heard she slept in her corner in the basement for a full 5 hours last night instead of taking care of your 15 children while you were chatting with your phone-boyfriends:P You can't be lax you know.

TeacherLady said...

HAHAHA! Thanks for reminding me. I knew I'd left something off my list.

humble simpleton said...

Do not swear the mirror if your face is awry.

ra said...

if i laugh anymore. im gonna cry. and people out here will think ive lost it.

ask a 'yes' or 'no' question to a person from the sub continent. most times they will shake their heads side to side. i still don't understand if thats yes or no, but i think that has to do more with being able to get what the other person has just asked.

sometimes i do that unconsciously. that drives my boss crazy and then i refer to him as an Englishman, he's from Wales.

humble - thanks for the ambassador tips. now all i need is to meet somebody from the czech republic.

humble simpleton said...

Somehow I am missing the point of the maid beating joke. Reading some article, couple of weeks ago, about a maid beaten to the extent that the doctors must have amputated her hands and feet made me wanna vomit. What's the funny part here?

Good luck Ra in finding Czechs :-) Even if the whole Czech rep. moved to India, we would not make even 1% of the population and you would most likely never notice. But if we decided so, I will let you know and you will book a hotel for us, will you?

TeacherLady said...

Humble, there are many stories that may or may not reach the news about maids being beaten by their employers and it's not funny, but it's become a stereotypical concept and I laugh at it with a bitter laugh, not a belly laugh.

ra said...

hey humble, if u come down to india, and goa(the state where im from) let me know, you are welcome to stay at my place.

humble simpleton said...

Appreciated Ra, and that is vice-versa of course. In that comment I compared all Czech rep. population to a hotel in India. According to what I've just read on wikipedia, this Goa must be a damn good place to live. There is a great danger that I would accidentally fall in love and marry there. :-) Especially the part about unproblematic symbiosis of Christianity, Hinduism and Islam is curious. How about you go to the Middle East and tell them the secret?

I've heard that India was to adopt a program of regular turning-off the electricity in an effort to claim the "country with biggest population" from the Chinese.

Cairogal said...

The film "The Kingdom" is definitely a DVD rental. My husband and I were mostly interested in seeing it because it was shot in Abu Dhabi. The thing is, this film is crap, and for many reasons, but not really for enforcing Saudi sterotypes. Jamie Foxx can't act, Jennifer Garner wears a breast-hugging t-shirt as she struts aroud the Magical Kingdom, and the whole film generally possesses that "America is here to save the day (because you can't do it on your own)" sorta cliche. Remember Independence Day with Will Smith? Same deal.

I think the film did portray these ideas: some Saudis are good people/some Saudis are terrorists; Saudis are people who love their parents and family (yes, even the big terrorist dude is shown to have a loving family). There are a few 'teachable' moments in which you 'the good Saudi' praying, the importance of non-Muslims not touching the Muslim victim' bodies is heavily stressed in one scene...it's not the typical anti-Arab film, but it does make Saudi police and military look incompetent at times.

I'm not sure why Emiratis would be offended by this. They've received an incredible amount of good press from the actors who went on every late-night television show saying how nice Abu Dhabi was, and that the people took good care of them. I still don't think Jamie Foxx knows where Abu Dhabi is, though. Jay Leno started to say, "So Abu Dhabi, that's in the United..." Foxx interrupts and says, "Yeah...it's in the Middle East." Sigh.

shlemazl said...