Evil Arabs in American Popular Film
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: University of Texas Press
Preface: Ichthyoid Man: Arcimboldo's The Water (1566)
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The painting hangs on the museum wall. At first sight, it simply appears to be another portrait like any other portrait. The Renaissance artist painted a god or goddess, a prince or princess, maybe a refined and wealthy patron. ...
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Introduction: Orientalist Fear
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The ‘‘evil’’ Arabs of American film are illusions. Much like those perplexing and ambiguous paintings of the celebrated Renaissance artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527–1593), or those more simplistic drawings that are developed for entertainment and perception analysis in books featuring optical puzzles, the ‘‘evil’’ Arabs are also constructions for entertainment and have implications for the perceptions of the American cinematic audience. ...
1. The Exorcist: Assault on American Confidence (1973)
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The Exorcist is often considered, or at least marketed to be, the most frightening horror film in American cinema.1 In one of its many memorable and chilling scenes, Father Karras (Jason Miller) interrogates the demon that has possessed the young girl, Regan (Linda Blair). ...
2. Rollover: Assault on the American Economy (1981)
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Alan J. Pakula’s doomsday thriller, Rollover, is another American film that taps the fount of Orientalist fear by threatening an American ideology and myth and toppling the myth’s carefully constructed heroes.1 In an important scene at a gala upper-class event held at New York’s Museum of Natural History, Rollover introduces the Orientalist audience to its heroic characters, Lee Winters (Jane Fonda) and Hub Smith (Kris Kristofferson). ...
3. Black Sunday: The Loss of Frontier Heroism (1976)
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Unlike Rollover, with its entrepreneurial heroes, John Frankenheimer’s Black Sunday has no American heroes.1 It is their very absence that proves to be important in revealing a sense of anxiety for the American Orientalist audience. ...
4. Three Kings: Assault on Victory Culture (1999)
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U.S. Army Major Archie Gates (George Clooney) is distraught in the beginning scenes of Three Kings.1 Despite the surrounding triumphant revelry of Desert Storm’s coalition forces, Gates cannot muster the same celebratory fervor in the Iraqi desert as his comrades.2 ...
5. Rules of Engagement: Attack from the Multicultural Front (2000)
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In the introductory scenes of Rules of Engagement, director William Friedkin, also the director of The Exorcist, presents his two heroes as honorable American military men.1 Terry Childers (Samuel L. Jackson) and Hayes Hodges (Tommy Lee Jones) are tough career marines and devoted comrades. ...
6. CNN's America Remembers: The ‘‘Real’’ Attack (2002)
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This book has thus far discussed Orientalist fear created in American popular films and examined Hollywood’s unreal constructions of the Arab enemy. In these fictions, the characters of the ‘‘evil’’ Arabs are portrayed as threatening to American ideologies and myths. ...
Conclusion: The South Park Lesson and Orientalist Fear
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South Park, the animated comedy series of life in a ‘‘quiet little red-neck, ho-dunk, white-trash mountain town’’ of Colorado, is known for its vulgar characters, violent scenarios, and appeal to America’s Generation X. South Park can also be, and I hail it as endearingly such, an informative barometer and lampoon of when the discourse of popular culture has just gone too far, taken itself too seriously, and lost sight of its real status. ...
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Page Count: 316
Illustrations: 35 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2006