ERIC Number: ED363532
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1988
Cruel and Unusual: Negative Images of Arabs in American Popular Culture. Third Edition. ADC Issue Paper No. 15.
This document addresses the negative image of Arabs among the U.S. public. While formal education has created many of the misconceptions about Arabs that abound in the west, many of the misconceptions come from the informal education of popular culture. The western image of the Arab is possibly more interesting than the reality of Arab culture. The American stereotype of Arabs is important for two reasons: (1) it interferes with the understanding of a vitally important area of the world and its people, and (2) the Arab stereotype, while it teaches us little about the Arabs, teaches us a good deal about ourselves and the mechanisms of prejudice. The book examines in sequence different areas of popular culture about Arabs: jokes, cartoons, popular songs, and especially cinema. A chart based on two reference catalogs produced by the American Film Institute in listing every movie form the 1920s and the 1960s, showing the frequency of themes in movies about Arabs, shows three main things: (1) the Arab world has changed, but the Arab stereotype has not; (2) Hollywood's Middle East has become a more sinister place; and (3) there has been a change toward more explicitly anti-Arab movie genres. The document asserts that explanations for the negative stereotypes include the prejudice against Arabs that is part of European folk heritage, the lack of knowledge about Arabs in the United States that reinforces the image of Arabs as "other," and the lack of a significant Arab population in the United States to counter the stereotype. (DK)
Descriptors: Arabs, Ethnic Stereotypes, Islamic Culture, Negative Attitudes, Popular Culture, Public Opinion, Social Bias
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, 4201 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 500, Washington, DC 20009.
Publication Type: Guides - Non-Classroom
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Community; Teachers; Practitioners
Authoring Institution: American Arab Anti Discrimination Committee, Washington, DC.
Note: For related material, see SO 023 300-303.