Arab American Research

Reel Bad Arabs – Jack Shaheen – KUAF 91.3 FM

Reel Bad Arabs – Jack Shaheen Interview at KUAF 91.3 FM

I was swerving into the parking lot when I heard the radio broadcaster talk about the image of Arabs in the American cinema. I kept listening until it confirmed my suspicion–that it would eventually lead to Jack Shaheen, the scholar of media studies who visited our campus a few weeks ago to give a lecture on the image of Arabs in the American cinema and whom I wrote about on this blog. It turned out that what the broadcaster said was an introduction to an interview with Jack Shaheen, and the interview itself was recorded during Shaheen’s stay in Fayetteville. So I decided to spend some 20 minutes inside my car, in the parking lot, looking at the beads of water race down my windshield, listening to the interview until Jack Shaheen said good bye to the interviewer.

One thing that really attracted my attention from this interview is Jack Shaheen’s finding from his visit to Beirut: that some people in the Arab world don’t really feel bothered by the vilification of the Arab that Shaheen finds in more than 1,200 Hollywood movies he included in his research for his books Reel Bad Arabs and TV Arab. Those people he talked with in Beirut only said, “It’s just a movie.” This is contrary to what Shaheen himself believes what this vilification can potentially lead to, such as, being used by certain people–with certain agendas–to raise hatred against the United States.

Another important thing he says in this interview is that the 100+ years of negative portrayals of the Arabs have made many young Arab movie makers feel bothered and come up with their own portrayals of the Arabs that are far from the stereotypical ones. There are movie makers who grew up in the 80s and 90s who are now making good, mostly independent, movies that either include or consist mainly of Arab-American characters living their American lives with their own problems. Among the films Shaheen mentions in this interview are Amreeka and The Visitor.

Arab American Research

Diana Abu-Jaber

Short bio of Diana Abu-Jaber.

Here is the information about the author, a piece of information that is far from being comprehensive. The page doesn’t include information about Ms. Abu-Jaber’s second, third and fourth novels. It gives an inaccurate account of the novelist’s second and third novels. According to this piece, Ms. Abu-Jaber plans to write a second novel called Memories of Birth, while she never actually published any novel with that title. As a matter of fact, her second novel is Crescent, which was published in 2004 and her third novel is Origin, published in 2007 (which, strangely enough, the web page lists as one of her novels–probably upon request from the author herself, or the author’s agent, long after the original publication of this page). Basically, this web page needs a lot of revision–a total revision, not just updating certain details but forgetting to correct plans from the past that might have taken unexpected turns. Regardless, this webpage is valuable for giving a quote from Jean Grant’s on Abu-Jaber’s potential to enlighten the reader about the Arab Culture. In addition to that, the page also provides a number of reviews of Abu-Jaber’s first novel Arabian Jazz.