ERIC Number: ED363530
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1990
Reference Count: N/A
Sex, Lies, & Stereotypes: The Image of Arabs in American Popular Fiction. ADC Issue Paper No. 23.
Sabbagh, Suha J.
This document discusses the treatment of Arabs in the western media. The main portion concentrates on the image of Arabs presented in American novels. Because television and films present visual images that communicate a powerful message in a matter of seconds, stereotyping appears as a shorthand form of communication and is, to a certain extent, inherent in the nature of the media. In novels, however, a much greater degree of racism is possible because of the deep intimacy formed between the writer and the reader. In addition, in writing, authors do not feel the same compunction to curb ethnic slurs or blatantly racist and distorted views of Arabs as that felt by writers for television and films. Blatant stereotyping of Arabs in writing is attributable to two reasons: (1) lengthy description required to make a powerful impact on the reader prevents the underlying message from being easily disguised, and (2) the history of writing on the Middle East finds its roots in the Orientalist tradition and, as such, is characterized by an attitude and tone of cultural superiority and racism. Novels about Arabs usually fit into one of two categories: (1) thrillers, spy stories, and intrigues; and (2) historical novels, romances, and adventure novels. The plots of both categories tend to deal with the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Arab-Israeli conflict, global disasters, and Islamic fundamentalism. Of the five novels discussed, two present a relatively accurate portrayal of Palestinians, although even these describe Arabs as preoccupied with violence and sex. (DK)
Descriptors: Arabs, Ethnic Stereotypes, Majority Attitudes, Mass Instruction, Novels, Popular Culture, Public Opinion, Sexuality
Anti-Discrimination Committee, 4201 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 500, Washington, DC 20008.
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Teachers; Community; Practitioners
Authoring Institution: American Arab Anti Discrimination Committee, Washington, DC.