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CSAA 2011: CULTURAL POLITICS 23 rd November , 2011. “Out With The Old; In With The New: Examining The Cinematic Arab Terrorist Before and After The September 11 Attacks.” Presented by: Jay W. Reid, B.Media ( Hons ) The University of Adelaide. First, an apology.

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CSAA 2011: CULTURAL POLITICS

23rd November, 2011

  • “Out With The Old; In With The New: Examining The Cinematic Arab Terrorist Before and After The September 11 Attacks.”

Presented by:

Jay W. Reid, B.Media (Hons)

The University of Adelaide

first an apology
First, an apology
  • Due to a formatting error in the program my talk is in fact on terrorism, and not bogan terrorism
  • Things you will not see in this presentation include:
    • The Makers of ‘The Hangover’
    • Low Interest Rates
    • Perspective-Based Photography at Famous Landmarks
    • Cruise Ships
    • Talking About Joining the Army
    • The Australian Dollar
    • WAGs
    • Arbitrary Thievery
    • Buddhist Iconography as Home Furnishings
    • Border Security: Australia’s Front Line
    • Prefacing Racist Statements With “I’m not racist but…”
  • Source: Things Bogans Like -The Whole List
orientalist discourse
Orientalist Discourse
  • Said’s work is strongly linked to that of Michel Foucault (Ali, 2006: 8; Ashcroft & Ahluwali, 2009: 65; Danaher el al., 2000: 3, 110; Kennedy, 2000: 3, 89-90; Said, 2003: 3, 14, 22-23, 94, 188-9, 266)
  • Rather than creating their works from scratch Said is able to demonstrate how authors instead draw upon previously stated notions of the Orient (Ali, 2006: 96-7, Kennedy, 2000: 17, 28, 83-7, 97; Said, 2003: 10, 21-3, 151, 237, 255)
  • Discourses regulate identity, physical bodies, behaviours and social hierarchies, filtering down through and acting upon all levels of society (Danaher et al., 2000: 32-3, 118, 123-4; Racevskis, 1983: 93-6).
methodology
Methodology
  • Examine films dealing with fictional terrorism released between 1991-2011 considered through an Oriental discourse, framed with work of Jack G. Shaheen
  • Shaheen’s work spans 1,000 instances of Arab screen mediation over the past century (Galford, 2001: 88; Hussein, 2010: 120; Majaj, 2003: 38; Miller, 2008: 246; Pomerance, 2009: 32; Shaheen: 2001: 14; 36, 2003a: 176, 2003b: 77; Stiffler, 2010: 118)
  • He is seen as significant figure in the research of Middle Eastern screen images (Marrison, 2004: 14; Shaheen, 2001: 1; Stiffler, 2010: 118)
  • His work identifies six character ‘archetypes’ that will be drawn upon (Majaj, 2003: 38; Stiffler, 2010: 118)
construction of the arab villain
Construction of the Arab villain
  • Through these films a discourse is established in which the Arab character is always constructed as being:
    • Violent
    • Addicted to an anti-Western religion:
    • Undisciplined & unintelligent
    • Primitive
  • However, while these are constant, the framing and positioning of the Arab villains does change over time
first wave 1991 2001
First wave: 1991-2001
  • Pre-9/11 terrorists Palestinians often characterised as fitting into the ‘Palestinian’ archetype as prescribed by Shaheen
  • Still constructed as being violent and religious, though great emphasis on their unintelligence, a popular character troupe for the time period (Shaheen, 2003a: 176-7)
  • This notion that the Arab mind as being simple, stupid and childlike is an idea long upheld within Oriental discourse (Said, 2007: 40; 310; 320)
  • Prime example: True Lies (1994), also Executive Decision (1996) and The Siege (1998)
second wave 2001 2007
Second wave: 2001-2007
  • Post-9/11 we see innocent Arabs seduced by ‘evil Islam’, personified in an often Egyptian cleric
  • Matches with the ‘Egyptian’ character detailed by Shaheen; obsessed with an ancient religion (2001: 25; 2003a: 184-6)
  • Their conversion is not willing but a product of socio-political drivers; not previously considered in Hollywood films (Schack, 2009: 80-1)
  • Location of attacks is moved to outside the US and Arab characters are given a constructed innocence
  • Prime example: Syriana (2005), also Rendition (2007)
third wave 2007 2011
Third wave: 2007-2011
  • Innocence is removed from perpetrators, who choose to commit attacks on their own accord, rather than being the victims of manipulation or coercion (Kellner, 2010: 171)
  • Characters become faceless, hidden behind robes and headwear, with the face becoming a (false) signal of innocence
  • Strong links to the Vietnam conflict and how the ‘war on terror’ is positioned
  • Prime example: TheKingdom (2007), also Body of Lies (2008)and Vantage Point (2008)
special case sheikhs
Special case: SHEIKHS
  • Imagery has shifted over time (Hall, 1997)
  • Re-imagined: Hook-nosed oil barons on top of thrones replaced with militant clerics (Shaheen: 1987, 148-51; 2003a: 19; 180-2; 2003b: 76; 2008: 30-2)
  • Manipulate religion, linked to monetary excess
  • Seen as violent, primitive, undisciplined and unintelligent
  • Important to plot post-9/11, but can be observed in pre-9/11 films as minor element
  • Changes in imagery can be linked to Osama bin Laden
special case maidens
Special case: MAIDENS
  • Post-9/11 phenomena
  • Belly dancers and silent veiled women replaced with fanatic bombers (Shaheen, 1987: 150; 2001: 22-3; 2003a: 182-4; 2008: 30)
  • Seen as manipulative liars who are violent, obsessed with religion and exploit their own sexuality
  • Framed as being more dangerous than male counter-parts due to their disruption of the household (Pickering & Third, 2003)
establishment of an arab terror discourse
Establishment of an Arabterror discourse
  • There exists a long standing Hollywood tradition of crafting the Middle East as an incubator of terrorist activity (Dodds, 2008: 1633)
  • A discourse of Arab terrorism has been established, one that while based in traditional Oriental beliefs is seen to response to changing social fears and real world events
  • The construction and continual repetition of such discourses acts upon bodies of society, determining the beliefs and actions of its citizens (Mills, 2004: 10)
questions
Questions?

And thank you for your time.