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Stereotyping In Movies

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1021 words
Social Issues

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Rich, snobby, cheap, and talkative are all stereotypes I have been labeled because I am Jewish. One day in Junior High my teacher Dr. Lnych broke the class down into groups of two. Our project was that we had to interview each other and write a biography on the other person. As the teacher called out the names of who would be working with who I remember getting all excited as she said, 'Jacklyn Blecker and Kerri Zarriello'. I didn't know Kerri very well so I was excited to be her partner hoping that this would help me get to know her better. Everything was going well until Kerri asked, ' What religion are you?' I quickly answered, 'Jewish.' I clearly remember what happened next because it changed my life. Kerri didn't go on asking me questions, instead she said 'oh so you are rich right?' Kerri didn't mean to upset me, but I remember how I felt after that question. My body went numb and I wanting to crawl into a little ball and just disappear. Ever since that day, I made a vow to myself that I would never stereotype anyone, and that I would stick up for anyone that was stereotyped, because I knew what it felt like to be placed in a group, rather than to be looked at as an individual.
Many different groups of people have been stereotyped. The movie The Siege has brought up much controversy in the United States on whether or not it poorly stereotypes Muslims. The filmmakers believe that the movie was intended to inform the public of stereotyping, not to worsen anti-Arab sentiment. Many people, especially Muslims, believe that The Siege poorly stereotypes Arabs. The Muslim population especially believes that this stereotype will lead to anti-Arab sentiment.
In a Washington Post editorial Jack Shaheen says, 'In the movie Arabs blow up the city's FBI building, murdering scores of government agents; they blast theatergoers, and detonate a bomb in a crowded bus' (Shaheen C3). This is a stereotypical portrayal of Arabs. Arabs are shown here as terrorists, capable of killing innocent people. The Arabs who blow up government agents, theatergoers, and a crowded bus must be insane. Such acts of terrorism are not seen on a normal basis; therefore people tend to relate acts of terrorism to people not of the norm. People don't just go out and kill thousands of people for no reason. The movie shows Arabs as capable of destruction, sending out a negative stereotypical message to viewers that all Arabs are capable of this.
Television has become American society's cultural and spiritual leader. Overlooking its obvious entertainment based purpose, People have let the television control and dictate their lives. While watching the movie, viewers allow themselves to let stereotypes blur their vision and corrupt their imagination. People tend to trust what they are watching. They feel that television speaks the total truth, so therefore when they see Arabs portrayed as terrorists on television their opinions of Arabs tend to be swayed. This is true whether the viewer is Arab or non-Arab, the same message is being sent and received.
While watching the movie The Siege, I let the negative portrayal of Arabs get to me In a Washington Post editorial Jack Shaheen adds, ' The movie not only reinforces historically damaging stereotypes, but promotes a dangerously generalized portrayal of Arabs as rapidly anti-American' (Shaheen C3). I agree with this quote based on one scene which I feel fully illustrates Shaheen's idea. When the FBI takes all of the Arab males in a certain age frame and locked them up in holding areas. This scene really got to me; it made me feel like the FBI didn't trust any Arab males so why should we the viewers trust them. In the movie they show an aerial view of the Arabs waiting in the cell. While watching carefully all I saw were each and individual face of the hostages. Many of them confused, upset, and some in total shock. The looks of their faces made my body shiver, all I wanted to do was open the gates and set them all free. When they do this, the message I received was that all Arab males are capable of terrorism, so that is why they needed to keep them in holding cells. If the FBI had trust in the innocent Arabs that they were locking up for no reason they wouldn't have needed to hold them in cells; they would have been trusted like the other thousands of Americans walking freely on the streets.
Edward Zwick argues in favor of the filmmakers in the Washington Post, 'Because some scenes in the movie show innocent Arab Americans being tossed indiscriminately into detention centers, the film would make American moviegoers examine their reactions to terrorism, that it would provoke thought ' (quoted in Shaheen C3). After reading and thinking about both sides of the story I see the filmmaker's intentions to inform people of stereotyping. I agree that the way they treated the innocent Arabs in this scene was horrible, but I do not feel that it provokes thought. I feel that the original intentions were good but the filmmakers could have added more to stress the response of the FBI. In a movie like this, there needed to be a clear-cut message to the viewers of what their intentions are.
Although these movies do not have the intention of creating stereotypes, people tend to take what they see and apply it to real life. This application is exactly why the Muslims are protesting the movie The Siege. They feel that a movie like this one will influence people in an anti-Arab way. In a Washington Post editorial Jack Shaheen comments on the movie The Siege, 'The Siege lumped our country's six million to eight million hard-working and law-abiding doctors, construction workers, police women and artist together with the lunatic fringe'(Shaheen C3). Arabs are typically portrayed as terrorist but this portrayal is taking all Arabs and placing them in this stereotype. As ...

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Keywords: stereotyping in movies and television, stereotypes in movies list, stereotypes in movies essay, stereotypes in movies pdf, gender stereotyping in movies, stereotyping in disney movies, stereotypes in movies today

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