Arabs in the Media

 Mitchell Van Dyk

According to www.calstatela.edu, “The mass media must accept this fact: they are the oracles of our time.  An analysis of how Arabs are portrayed in the media has shown the existence of myths and negative stereotypes, perpetuations, projections, a vicious cycle, a cycle created by the media, allowed to continue by the media.  It will all have to be countered by the mass media’s destruction of fallacies,” (El-Farra).

In class a week ago my class watched a movie about Arabs in the media. I thought to myself another boring video, but I was wrong the movie was dead on. As Americans we portrayed Arabs in the worst kind of way we stereotype them as terrorist and threats to American society. For example in 1995 there was a bombing in Oklahoma City, the reporters within minutes of the bombing were saying that the bombing was an act of Arab presumably Muslim Arab, terrorists rather than any other American that it equally could have been. As soon as the media coverage was shown of the bombing was shown American’s had no problem associating the attack with Muslims, it was seemingly an appropriate link. I don’t think people realize they are portraying Arabs in this kind of way, I believe people are exposed so much to the media and how the media portrays Arabs that it is engraved in our society. Speaking for myself I had no idea, even though I am exposed to the media every day I was oblivious to the fact that as a society we categorized Arabs as terrorist in all forms of media.

            One example that supports our portrayal of Arabs in the movie “Kingdom” that was release in August 2007. According to gulfnews.com, “Arab characters in Hollywood movies have largely been associated with violence and terrorism, and despite the subject of this Hollywood movie being exactly that, Arabs say they expect something different, “yet the same” from The Kingdom,” (Lawati). Throughout the years Americans have put a tag on the Arab community, according to www.calstatela.edu, ‘“In a study that measured American perceptions of Arabs, it was found that ‘Arabs were so dehumanized that Americans were inured against the miseries and concerns of the Arabs or any segment of the Arab world; it is as if the fear of Islam and Muslims were justification for the negative Arab image in the West,”’ (Gahreeb).

            I have personal or at least some personal insight on what Arabic cultural is really about. In college I have a friend who is Arabic. Prior to meeting her I had never thought about what I knew about the Arabic cultural. I realized once she talked about her hometown, the food, and the traditions they did I came to understand that all the media taught me about a region we’ve been at war with for a decade was about what the Al-Queada was doing. Also how their women have to be covered up, when I came to realized this, I realized how much the media is inadequate at its representation of the entire cultural.

Even in this generation you can see how we still are making the Arabian community look like terrorist and murderers. Why is this, why as Americans are we portraying this cultural like this? Maybe this phenomenon in part has been exemplified in recent years because what happened during September 2001 we associate these specific terrible Al-Queada terrorists as a stereotype for all Muslims. We take a whole cultural and religion and tag them as if the whole community agrees with these violent extremists. The media has a lot to do with what we think about the Muslim and Arabs, they show us all the negative things that are linked with the Muslim cultural. As a nation we think that Muslims and Arabs are notoriously violent people, so the media in return feeds us back what they think we like. I believe we link Muslims and Arabs to almost every so-called terrorist attacks is because we as a nation are exposed to this image so frequently in media. If you look at the shows we watch they are portrayed differently than any other race or cultural. We put them in the categories of terrorism so in return we are growing up on the fact that all Muslims and Arabs are bad. Our culture is hooked on the media and what it feeds us that we will believe anything they throw at us.

For instance if the media puts an Arab in a movie and makes them the terrorist we are more willing to believe that all Muslims and Arabs are linked the cause of 9/11. As a society we need to find a way to stop this, we need to stop putting tags and stereotypes on cultural we have no ideas about. What do you think the Muslim and Arab community think about all our movies and television shows that portrayed them in such a dehumanizing and inhumane way? When will it stop and will it ever completely stop, or will the media stay in control and make the Muslim and Arabian community look as if they are always the bad guy.

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