Date of Graduation
Master of Arts in Writing
identity, film, Arab, American, racism
If we look back at movies from earlier decades that depict Arabs, we see racist stereotypes played out unapologetically (e.g. in silent films like "The Sheik" and "Son of the Sheik"); we see the costume equivalent of blackface when depicting "Arab" characters (for example the darkening of skin of an actor portraying an Arab). While recent film has moved away from such broad stereotypes, an analysis of recent films, specifically films that were released after the 1979 oil crisis to pre-9/11, suggests that American cultural depictions are getting worse. Many films of that time period that feature Arabs are more sinister and threatening in nature. At that time, a cultural appropriation developed in American film wherein aspects of Arab culture were exploited to further pro-American stance, particularly a stance which encourages patriotism towards American/ Western culture and fear towards Arabs. Post-9/11, however, more tolerant and anti-racist depictions have begun to dominate many mainstream American films that depict Arabs. In my thesis, I explore racism, identity, and the ways in which American culture uses media such as film to define themselves through the creation of an "other."
© Jennifer Ann Jackson
Jackson, Jennifer Ann, "You're in My Country Now!: Defining American Identity Through Depictions of Arabs and Americans in American Film" (2011). MSU Graduate Theses. 2627.