• "Barbaric Space: Portrayal of Arab lands in Hollywood films"

    Hania A.M. Nashef (see profile)
    MS Visual Culture, TC Popular Culture, TC Postcolonial Studies
    Culture--Study and teaching, Mass media--Study and teaching
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    arab world, arab land, Edward Said, Hollywood, Arab cinema, Cultural studies, Film studies, Media studies
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    On many occasions cinema has chosen to shoot movies in locales other than the ones in which the events of the films are supposed to take place in. This could be due to various reasons, namely cheaper production costs, or inability to gain access to the original place. The choice of location, however, tries to provide a mirror image of the original country. In portrayals of Arab lands and namely in Hollywood films, this rarely holds true. Irrespective of the country in which the action takes place, the landscapes are the same, and the depiction willfully ignores the actual geographical make-up of the country at play. Instead, the Arab countries are always presented as an unidentified mass of scorching deserts, and here the emphasis is on the wild, harsh, and inhabitable terrain on which sporadic barbarian nomads roam, as only they can belong to such landscapes. Such landscapes can only be tamed by a superior force. These immature and uninformed presentations persist to this day in film. Given that the world is becoming more in McLuhan’s term a global village, such misrepresentations are not acceptable. Furthermore, countries like the USA, have maintained and especially since September 11th, 2010, that they want to erase misunderstandings between the Arab world and the West. Such representations are reinforcing misconceptions. One image of the Arab city exists. In this chapter, I choose to analyze the reason behind these false portrayals from a postcolonial and postmodern perspectives drawing on Albert Memmi, Edward Said, Frantz Fannon and Jean Baudrillard, reflecting on films such as The Siege, Syriana, Body of Lies, Disney’s Aladdin on the one side and City of Lights and Captain Abu Raed on the other.
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