The World Faith Blog

World Faith: The Interfaith Service Network

MOOZ-lum, the movie 17 February , 2011

Spoiler Alert!!!
The following article presents specific story details about the film, MOOZ-lum.

Stereotypical Muslim misrepresentation in films is as old as film history itself, if not older, as seen in Orientalist paintings, novels, and plays which pre-date the invention of film by centuries.

One of the founding fathers of cinema, Georges Méliès, directed The Terrible Turkish Executioner as early as 1904; in this short film, a Mus-lim/Turkish executioner chopped off four people’s heads in one swish, with a Sinbad-like sword wearing “typical Muslim garb.” Later, through the visual magic Melies was known for, the chopped heads rolled back to where they belong, and the four took their revenge by chopping off the executioner’s head. Fast-forward a hundred years to films released as recently as the last five to 10 years, and you will see updated versions of the same one-dimensional representation of Muslim characters. The 2008 movie Taken resorted to such an antiquated, comical Arab-Sheik-antagonist, who has a dagger in one hand and a branch of grapes on the other, buying and selling young white virgins. Granted; there have been other films, like the Traitor, that have done a much better job showing nuance in the Muslim identity. Yet these films leave the audience with the feeling that complex human Muslim characters are a minority, whereas the majority of Muslims are still blood-thirsty terrorists who have off-the-chart sexual hunger. Variations of these images abound even in the news media. Further added to the public perception of Muslims was the paranoia surrounding the proposed Islamic cultural center in lower Manhattan, and ever-present suspicion about President Obama’s “hidden Muslim identity.”

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