The Hijab in Hollywood - Representation and Stereotypes
In the recent past, Hollywood has had a significant impact on the representation and stereotypes surrounding Muslims, specifically Muslim women. However, this has also caused a significant imbalance. This article looks at the impact of the stereotypes and the depiction of Islamic beliefs on audiences' attitudes towards Islam and Muslims. The article then focuses on the way that Middle Eastern and Muslim women have been oppressed by Hollywood productions. It then suggests some ways in which the industry can make a change.
Characters depicted as oriental fantasy
As the Trump era begins, the Orient is being presented to the American public through a series of commodified images and characters. The fantasy world of Aladdin, based on a series of Middle Eastern folk tales, is one of the most prominent examples of the Orient's re-invention in Hollywood.
The Aladdin myth is rooted in Orientalism, which is a concept in which the Orient is viewed as exotic, foreign, and antithetical to Western civilization. It is a concept that was imported into North America in the 19th century. A grouping of the foreign media as a homogenous "Other" developed into a popular system of social construction.
Orientalism was also prevalent in Western art in the early 20th century. During the heyday of the French Empire, the artistic director of the French Academy of Painting, Ingres, used a generalized female form and made eroticized images of the Orient acceptable. He also painted highly colored visions of Turkish baths.
Despite the efforts of some artists, orientalism persisted in art and culture. Even in the earliest Hollywood films, the exotic nature of the Orient was emphasized. For example, the production design of THE DRAGON PAINTER was meant to create an oriental fantasy.
This kind of commodification was also evident in the 19th-century theatrical spectacles. Yellowface, or the use of white actors to play Asian characters, was an important casting tool.
Anna May Wong was one of the most successful Chinese-American actresses of all time. She started out in Hollywood, playing prostitutes, before becoming the star of sixty movies from 1919 to 1960.
As part of the "colonial discourse," the Orient is portrayed as a "the other" to the West. Similarly, the Asian woman is often portrayed as a sacrificial victim to the "powers that be." However, the Asian-American perspective is rarely included in the consumer market.
As a result, we are left with a lack of diverse narratives and perspectives. This 'invisibility' of the Asian-American experience has an important political and economic impact. Moreover, it is interconnected with the 'invisibility' of Asian-Americans in the movie industry today.
Middle Eastern women are oppressed in Hollywood
While Arab and Muslim women are often portrayed as oppressed and submissive, this stereotypical depiction is not accurate. They are a part of a complex, diversified community. In the Middle East and North Africa, they are Muslims, Jews, Christians, and a variety of other faiths.
In mainstream Western media, the portrayal of Arab and Muslim women has been overly exaggerated. The Disney Princess Jasmine is a perfect example. Although the character is referred to simply as 'Arabic,' she perpetuates the myth that there is no difference between Arab and Muslim women.
Another example is the Netflix series "Elite." This show features a hijabi girl named Nadia. She is raised by strict Palestinian parents and is sent to an exclusive private school. Her parents have her wear a hijab, but she removes it as she falls in love.
One of the main issues with the film industry's lack of representation is that it indirectly endorses prejudice. By showing Middle Eastern women in such a superficial way, viewers adopt these stereotypes without realizing it.
In the past, Hollywood has made efforts to portray traditionally underrepresented groups, but has failed to give proper representation to all. As a result, the film industry has a legacy of caricatures.
But in recent years, American directors and producers have begun to latch onto the new idea of an unhappy Middle Eastern woman. Some have even started producing short films.
Several actors of Arab descent have contributed to better representation in television. A few examples include Ahd Khalel who played the human character in Collateral (2018) and Yasmine Al Massri who starred in Quantico (2015). However, no statistical data exists on the representation of Arab women in the film industry.
Streaming services are now attempting to catch up with the values of contemporary society. However, the lack of diverse representation continues.
Hollywood is failing to properly represent the diversity of the Middle East and North Africa. It should include Levantine, Gulf, and Persian girls, as well as Muslims and non-hijabi Muslim women.
Western productions create oriental fantasy with Muslim women
One of the oldest 'Oriental' settings in mainstream American films is Baghdad. In fact, Disney's latest feature, Aladdin, owes its origins to Baghdad. The city is a crucible of cultural contradictions - and one can only wonder what the next great thing to come of this confluence of cultures might be. It also spawned some of the most visually arresting movies of the past century.
As with most things in life, the sexiest city in the world has its share of naysayers. This is especially true given the region's preeminent role in Iraqi politics and the Iraqi military's recent tumultuous escapades. Despite these and other unwelcome visitors, Baghdad has managed to hold a healthy respect for itself. Indeed, it has a rich albeit relatively unexplored history that dates back centuries. During the Ottoman empire, the city was a haven for rogues and royalty alike. Moreover, the city's location on the Persian Gulf made it an easy port of call for a variety of naval vessels ranging from the tame to the obnoxious.
Impact of stereotypes on audience members' perception of Islam
A recent study conducted by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative has painted a troubling picture of how Muslims are portrayed in Hollywood. As the population of Muslims continues to grow in North America and other parts of the world, the negative stereotypes about Islam that are perpetuated by the media have the potential to harm Muslims' acceptance.
Historically, European visitors to the Middle East have focused on "exotic" aspects of the region instead of similarities. The concept of the "Orient" was invented by the Europeans to portray the region as a mysterious, fanciful place. While this is true for certain aspects of the region, most Middle Easterners are far from the exotic stereotype that Westerners assume.
Despite the fact that the Middle East is a complex and diverse society, the news coverage of the region's conflicts tends to focus on the negative aspects. This is because the news media's attention is drawn to the violent, tragic events occurring in the Middle East. By contrast, the majority of people in the United States and other Western countries enjoy a more comfortable lifestyle than the inhabitants of the Middle East.
However, the stereotype of Muslims as violent and depraved is still very prevalent in our media. This negative perception is rooted in a number of social factors, including gender roles, cultural conventions, and purported evidence of violence.
Moreover, the stereotypical portrayals of Muslims often have a greater influence on audience members' perceptions of Islam than actual facts. For example, researchers found that a large percentage of Muslim characters were targeted with racist slurs, with religious slurs being the most common. Furthermore, a large percentage of Muslims were depicted as perpetrators of violence. These findings may contribute to the rise in hate crimes against Muslims in the U.S.
Despite the increased prominence of the Muslim character in the movies, it is difficult to accurately represent Muslims in a proportional manner with the population. Movies frequently depict men in criminal roles. This stereotype stems from gendered conventions of masculine strength.