planet of the arabs

Planet of the Arabs

This, Ladies and Gentlemen, definitely is a piece of art! Planet of the Arabs [08:58min | .mov | 30MB | also ↑at YouTube and ↑at Google Video] by artist Jacqueline Salloum is a fulminant remix of scenes from Hollywood movies and mainstream television—drawing from sources as diverse as cartoons starring Bugs Bunny & Daffy Duck, CNN‘s Larry King show, and True Lies starring the 38th Governator. Every single piece of the footage used depicts clichées of ‘Arabs’ which until today make Edward Said—peace be upon him—revolve in his grave at tenthousand rounds per minute, and above.

Salloum’s movie is furiously edited and underlaid with music in an up-to-date fashion. It is tremendously entertaining to watch, on the one hand hilariously funny, but on the other hand at the very same time it sends deep-frozen chills down your spine. In my case I found it shockingly astounding how many of the mashed-up movies I do recognize, and therefore must have actually viewed. Salloum found the recipe to fuse fun and vitriolic irony, satire, and critique, without doing unjustice to any of those. Mind that this kind of artistical criticism technically is not possible in terms of an interpretation of copyright as favoured by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). And its impact would not be possible without the Internet infrastructure. Salloum was inspired by Jack Shaheen’s book “Reel bad Arabs: How Hollywood vilifies a people” (2001) wherein over 900 movies were analyzed in respect to their depicting ‘Arabs’. Only 12 examples are seen to be positive depictions, and only 52 characterized as even-handed, the rest of the lot …

The moving images used by Salloum obviously would be nice prey for visual anthropologists, and of course “Planet of the Arabs” itself as well. In respect to the same issue concerning computergames, see digital arabs, tahta al-hisar—under siege, and digital intifada, arabs, and aliens.

SHAHEEN, JACK G. 2001. Reel bad Arabs: How Hollywood vilifies a people. New York: Olive Branch Press.

initially via entry at ethno::log
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