Friday, August 16, 2013

An Informative Choice

Here's something slightly off topic but something that I noticed. Check out this trailer for a movie called "Planet of the Arabs," a movie that's about how Arabs (like many other minorities before and since, including Jews) are depicted as stereotypes in Hollywood movies. You don't have to watch the whole thing, just a few minutes will give you the idea:

You may notice that most of the movies are pretty old, back when it was okay to make fun of just about anyone, but that isn't my point.

I want you to skip to 4:16. Here's the scene that you will find:
A general is speaking to a soldier (Lee Marvin) over a video screen and says "the President wants you to fly to Israel." 
Lee Marvin says "Israel?" Behind him Chuck Norris walks into the room. 
The general says, "Israel is America's best friend in the Middle East and it's only twenty minutes from Beirut. You're gonna get anything and everything you want to do it right."

That's where the clip ends. There isn't anything else to it. Two soldiers planning an operation in Beirut and involves a stop in Israel.

So here's my question: where is the racist depictions of Arabs in that clip? Obviously there is none, but what there is is praise of Israel, calling it America's "best friend." Apparently in the opinion of whoever created "Planet of the Arabs," praising Israel is the same thing as depicting Arabs as a stereotype.

Richard Landes likes to talk about a zero-sum mentality and honor/shame culture among Arabs. I'm not sure if it's completely true, but if so this is definitely one small example of it.

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