Arabs on Film

Blogging Sundance is a cool little blog with lots of on-site coverage of the festival. A couple of days ago, for instance, there was an item about filmmaker Jacqueline Salloum who’s there to present her short film, Planet of the Arabs, which is based on the (must-read) book by Jack Shaheen–Reel Bad Arabs.

For those who may not have noticed, the latest example of cliche-ridden portrayals of Middle-Eastern people comes courtesy of TV series 24, except now the bad Muslims happen to be an entire family (Mom, Dad, and Kiddo terrorists). Just in case you were wondering whether you should trust the people next door, 24 gives you the answer.

On the other hand, the writers of the ABC drama Lost managed to craft a credible, complex Arab character (played by British-Asian actor Naveen Andrews) that keeps me tuning in every Wednesday. But for every Sayid in Lost there’s a hundred other characters like the Arazes in 24. I guess that means we have to go to a deserted island instead of a suburb to find some good A-rabs.

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