Sunday, July 15, 2007

Hollywood and Terrorism

Writing in The Guardian, Nick Cohen on Hollywood's choice of terrorist villains:

The global mayhem since 9/11 has not affected film in America, nor television in Britain, to anything like the degree a reasonably well-informed media buff would have predicted on the day. Hollywood has produced documentaries, from Paul Greengrass's poignant United 93, which recaptures the uprising by passengers against their hijackers, to Michael Moore's seedy Fahrenheit 9/11, which portrays Saddam Hussein's Iraq as a happy land of playful children and blushing lovers. But when we turn to Hollywood fiction we find that the 'war on terror', or whatever it is we're meant to call it these days, has barely shown its face.

The absence is all the more perplexing because before 9/11, when there had been no serious Islamist assault on America, Middle Eastern villains were so common in films Hollywood faced plausible charges of anti-Arab racism. In Back to the Future, Executive Decision, True Lies and dozens of others, Arabs were off-the-peg bad guys. Yet after 9/11, the stereotypes weren't fleshed out with an all-too-real psychopathic ideology, but abandoned.

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