New Portrayals of the Arab World in TV Series

New Portrayals of the Arab World in TV Series

Alfonso Corral, Brenda Pérez, Héctor J. Oliva
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7180-4.ch007
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This work reflects on how the representation of the Arab world has evolved in three fictional works that have emerged in the second decade of the 21st century: Homeland (Showtime Networks, 2011-2020), Tyrant (FX Network-Fox, 2014-2016), and Jack Ryan (Amazon Prime Video, 2018-). The goal is to determine whether the main socio-political milestones that occurred during this period (the Arab Spring, Syrian Civil War, appearance of ISIS, etc.) have transformed the already classic theories of authors such as Edward Said, Jack Shaheen, or Evelyn Alsultany, among others. A viewing and analysis of the first season of each show demonstrates that the panorama has not improved in terms of discourse, topics, and stereotypes. It is clear, therefore, that the lens of 9/11 is still very present in the Hollywood mindset regarding Arabs, Muslims, and Islam.
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Hollywood, The Arabs, Islam, And Orientalism

In order to understand the logical links between American films and Arab or Muslim societies, one must start from Orientalism, a paradigm that, since its conception by Edward Said (1978), defines a Western style of thought that seeks to dominate, restructure, and exercise authority over the East, its civilisations, peoples, and regions. In other words, Orientalism displays a standardised way of writing, viewing, and studying dominated by ideological imperatives, perspectives, and prejudices. Hence, as far as the Arab and Islamic world is concerned, this portrait, which was established with the medieval Crusades, has evolved and mutated along with major international events such as imperialism, world wars, the creation of the State of Israel, the oil crisis, the Iranian Revolution, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the attacks of 9/11.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Dearabisation: Denying or depriving a person of his/her Arab identity.

Aromavision: The audiovisual resource that allows the viewer to feel experiences not linked to the visual sense, such as smell or touch.

Homo Islamicus: The metaphor that explains that Muslims are a specific species or race, with no links to the rest of human beings.

Entertainment Industry: The sector that includes cinema, video games, television, music, etc.

Arab Spring: The denomination that has been used for the revolutionary process that, from December 2010, was carried out in several countries of the Middle East and the North of Africa.

MENA Region: The geographic area that incorporates the Middle East and North Africa.

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