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Middle Eastern Studies Program and Difference and Media Project present

"A is for Arab: Stereotypes in U.S. Popular Culture"

Exhibition Opening

Monday, March 11, 2013

"Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People"

(2006, 50 min) followed by a discussion of the collection with Greta Scharnweber
(NYU Kevorkian Center)

Ongoing Exhibition
Albee Annex Basement
March 11-22, 2013, Mostly open 9-5
Contact Ann Seaton, aseaton@bard.edu

This documentary dissects a slanderous aspect of cinematic history that has run virtually unchallenged from the earliest days of silent film to today’s biggest Hollywood blockbusters. It explores a long line of degrading images of Arabs--from Bedouin bandits and submissive maidens to sinister sheikhs and gun-wielding “terrorists”--along the way offering devastating insights into the origin of these stereotypical images, their development at key points in US history, and why they matter so much today. Shaheen shows how the persistence of these images over time has served to naturalize prejudicial attitudes toward Arabs and Arab culture. By inspiring critical thinking about the social, political, and basic human consequences of leaving these Hollywood caricatures unexamined, the film challenges viewers to recognize the urgent need for counter-narratives that do justice to the diversity and humanity of Arab people and the reality and richness of Arab history and culture.

A professor, author, and professional consultant for films such as Syriana and Three Kings, Jack Shaheen, with the help of his wife Bernice Shaheen, collected and analyzed materials which depicted Arabs and Muslims as the godless "cultural other." The Jack G. Shaheen Archive now contains nearly 3,000 motion pictures (spanning from late-19th century silent films to contemporary Hollywood productions) and television programs (including comedies, dramas, cartoons, as well as commercials) on DVDs and VHS tapes. Paper ephemera in the archive comprises of editorial cartoons, motion picture posters and stills, comic books, and advertisements. Also included in the archive are movie/TV scripts, law cases, books and magazines, as well as toys and games.

Shaheen is the author of several books including The TV Arab (1984), Guilty: Hollywood's Verdict on Arabs after 9/11 (2008), and the award-winning Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People (2001, 2009), which the Media Education Foundation produced as a documentary in 2006. He has served as an Oxford Research Scholar and as a consultant for the Los Angeles Commission on Human Relations, the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, and New York City's Commission on Civil Rights.

For more information with the Jack G. Shaheen Archive visit

For more information, call 845-758-7900, or e-mail .

Location: RKC 103