This is probably a fence-sitter between and A Guardian interview with Jack Shaheen, who's spent 20+ years studying Hollywood's depiction of Arabs. His massive survey, Reel Bad Arabs, came out in the US in 2001, but is just reaching the UK. In his analysis of over 900 films, he finds negative stereotyping to a degree that'd now be unthinkable for other groups (unless, of course, they're making mad bank off their own stereotypes, a la My Big Fat Greek Wedding).

And everyone complained Lucas was mindlessly stereotyping JEWS.  Hugh Griffith and Watto, And people criticized Lucas for his crafty Jewish traders? (Or was it his Inscrutable Asians? Or his...) Ben-Hur's Arab Friend was played by Hugh Griffith, left, image:

But seriously, setting aside David Russell's Three Kings (which Shaheen adised on, btw), if the best you can hope for from Hollywood's is the Ben-Hur treatment--where the Arab sheikh is a Brit (named Hugh Griffith) dipped in a tub of bronzer--you know there's a problem. Of course, the Jews got stuck with Charlton Heston, so it's lose-lose for everyone...

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
greg [at] greg [dot ] org

find me on twitter: @gregorg

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first published: April 18, 2003.

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