Multnomah County Library Central Library, U.S. Bank Room, 810 SW 10th Avenue
Featuring a discussion of the film with Kimberley Brown, Portland State University Professor of Applied Linguistics
About the Documentary
Against the chaotic backdrop of ongoing war and conflict in the Middle East and rising fears of terrorism in the West, the makers of the critically-acclaimed documentaries Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land and Edward Said: On Orientalism have produced a powerful and important new film based on Jack Shaheen’s bestselling book, Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People.
Reel Bad Arabs takes a devastating tour of the American cinematic landscape, moving from the earliest days of silent film to today’s biggest Hollywood blockbusters to reveal an astonishing pattern of slanderous Arab stereotyping. The documentary isolates and examines America’s most persistent Arab caricatures, from oversexed Bedouin bandits and submissive maidens to sinister sheikhs and blood-thirsty terrorists, providing striking insights into the origin of these images, their disturbing similarities to anti-Semitic and other racist and ethnocentrist stereotypes, and their resurgence and political resonance during key moments of crisis in U.S. history.
By inspiring us to reflect critically on the social and political consequences of Hollywood’s long love affair with Arab villainy and buffoonery, Reel Bad Arabs challenges us in the end to envision counter-narratives that do justice to the complexity and humanity of Arab people, and the reality and richness of Arab history and culture.
Presented as part of A Day in the Life: Memoirs from the Middle East, a book club series which aims to dispel common stereotypes of the Middle East by exploring literature from the region. The rich narratives, stimulating detail and enchanting dialogue of the selected memoirs will draw readers in and provide new perspectives on the Middle East, beyond war and politics. Through interactive and participatory book club discussions, readers will engage with the text, with experts and authors, and each other to explore the diversity of daily life in the Middle East and consider both the similarities to and differences from our own lives in Oregon.
A Day in the Life is presented by the Multnomah County Library and the Portland State University Department of English and Centers for Public Humanities and Middle East Studies and was made possible in part by a grant from Oregon Humanities, a statewide nonprofit organization and an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which funds Oregon Humanities’ grant program. Any views, findings, and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily reflect the views of Oregon Humanities or the National endowment for the Humanities.
The Portland State University Department of English offers a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate courses to meet the needs of students with a diversity of interests, and academic and professional backgrounds. The department offers courses in literature, rhetoric, composition, and critical theory and emphasizes intertextual and cross-disciplinary inquiry represented by many cultures and historical periods.
The Portland Center for the Public Humanities (PCPH) coordinates, promotes and supports rigorous humanistic inquiry into the languages, histories, and ideas that both shape our ways of life and offer a means of positively transforming them. PCPH’s mission is to connect the scholarly community of PSU with the city, and its programs have focused on topics vital to public life. PCPH programming has examined topics such as sustainability and the humanities; the prison industrial complex; Holocaust and genocide studies; and religion and secularism.
The Portland State University Middle East Studies Center promotes understanding of the people, cultures, languages and religions of the Middle East. As a National Resource Center for Middle East Studies under the U.S. Department of Education’s Title VI program, the Center serves as a resource on issues pertaining to the Middle East through activities that reach students and scholars, as well as businesses, educators, and the media. The Middle East Studies Center supports academic conferences, workshops, cultural events, lectures, and a resource library.
Multnomah County Library (MCL) is the oldest and largest public library in Oregon, serving nearly 20% of the state’s population (approximately 724,000 residents). MCL cardholders are voracious consumers of the Library’s collection, checking out over 33 items per person in 2011-12, the highest circulation of all libraries serving populations of fewer than one million. MCL hosted more than 22,000 events during the last year, including monthly meetings of 27 book discussion groups. More than 300,000 residents attended library programs. The community is eager for connection and learning – visiting the Library online or in person nearly 35,000 times each day in 2011-12. This November, nearly 63% of voters in the County voted to establish a library district, providing permanent, stable funding for this well-loved and well-used institution. MCL is guided by three pillars that define its role in and value to the community, which guides how MCL builds its collection and develop and present programming: 1) A free resource for all, 2) A trusted guide for learning, 3) The leading advocate for reading.