Abstract: "Evil Arabs?"

Hier wie bereits angekündigt mein Paperproposal und zugleich Abstract für die Konferenz "Screens of Terror".

In dem Vortrag gehe ich neben Jack Shaheens Real Bad Arab. How Hollywood Vilifies a People auch auf das HIER besprochene Buch Home/Land/Security. What We Learn about Arab Communities from Action-Adventures von Karin G. Wilkins ein.

Weitere Kurzdarstellungen zu den Vorträgen der Veranstaltung gibt es HIER.

‘Evil Arabs’? Muslim terrorists in popular U.S. and Indian films and the strategies and problems of ‘Angemessenheit’

‘To be suitable, proper, adequate or fair’: The German term Angemessenheit (appropriateness) means on a more literal level ‘measured on’. So more than both the German ‘adäquat’ and its English equivalent ‘adequate’ it qualifies something to be according to a certain measure or gauge.

But what is the measure, what are the criteria of Angemessenheit when it comes to the depiction of Muslims and Islamic terrorists in the imaginational spectrum of wrongly suspected ordinary citizens and (potential) fanatical, suicidal assassins? Questions of stereotyping and defamation, of sexism and racisms are subjects well known in the history of film or in the context of terrorism in general. But how to cope with it – and do we have to deal with it anyway?

This paper will compare popular terrorist movies from Hollywood with those from India. Since (and because of) its founding as a modern nation state, India has faced different kinds of terrorism and communal violence, which has often been utilised politically, fuelling suspicion and hate of Muslims. Given gruesome riots and jihad activities in Kashmir but also claims of organisations and the national censorship, so-called ‘Bollywood’ has developed a range of strategies of balancing the Muslim image in movies which – as I will show – Hollywood started to apply after 9/11, too.

Considering the advantages and limits of such narrative strategies I will discuss problems of assessing the appropriateness of Muslims’ cinematic representation in the context of the new transnational terrorism and how critics often disregard basic conditions like the constitution of the movie industry, genre rules and functions or the recipient’s side.