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RE: Two revolting films from Paramount

Hi Nathan, Jeff, Valerie, Milan and all,

Two quick points:
1) As regards Nathan's comment -- the freedom to make offensive speech --
I'm all for it.
2) That said, I certainly hadn't intended my post itself to be offensive by
way of including - errr - an Oedipal vulgarity from the film.  My apolgies.

As regards Nathan's 'backfire' comment, the ADC's call for letters to
Paramount seems risk-free, and those who object to the film would be remiss
if they didn't make their points known.  I'd agree with Nathan that
picketing cinemas seems riskier, and probably less productive.  By the way,
ADC's intent is instructive - not coercive.  They're posting a flyer for
distribution, akin to the "Three Kings" leafletting.

The ADC has listed a number of reviews where the movie's anti-Arab bias is
front-and-center.  The sharpest criticism comes from the New York Press:
"...the continuing scandal of Hollywood's Arab-bashing smells to high
heaven, but this film manages to stun nonetheless." (See
<>; see the others at

Jeff (and in response, Valerie and Milan) -- as regards Jeff's point
(welcoming 'kids with a political conscience'), many reviewers (even those
not catching the film's bias) remarked that the protesters actions were
*completely* unmotivated.  The Yemeni demonstration is given no context.  As
Paul Clinton (CNN) said, "... it's blatantly racist, using Arabs as
cartoon-cutout bad guys ... Why is the embassy in danger?  What has
happened?  Who are the people rioting?  We never know ..."  Hence the ADC's
comment that the film reinforces the Arab as the "quintessential 'other' in
contemporary American culture ... as the inherent, irrational and implacable
terrorist ..."   

The film uses xenophobia to propel its plot, and taps the audience's
prejudice to amplify its emotional kick.  Cheap, tawdry work.

If the Shaheen survey seemed 'silly' it's only because my explanation didn't
do it justice.  Some further info: it's at least 10-years old (pre-dating
the Gulf War) and the full question was (roughly): "Can you recall a heroic
or humane portrayal of Arabs in literature or the media".  Shaheen's intent
was not remedial, but rather to highlight the depths of American ignorance
of Arab peoples.  To remove any whiff of sanctimony in my use of the
annecdote, I should have added that when I first heard the question (a year
ago) I, too, could not have answered.

Bad as it is, the movie is an opportunity.  For every newspaper whose
reviewer was blind to the film's biases, there's a Letter to the Editor
waiting to be written that links this omission to the lack of coverage of
the sanctions in Iraq.  I'll close mine with Halliday's recent comment,
"Iraqi kids don't count apparently. It is a racist problem, there really is
no question about that. It's ugly."

Drew Hamre
Golden Valley, MN USA

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