Sunday, September 2, 2007

Holywood does right for once?

As an Arab kid growing up in the states, I have many of the same movie memories that any guy my age has: catching (original trilogy) Star Wars mania, sneaking into the movies to watch R rated classics like The Untouchables, crushing on various Hollywood starlets, etc, etc. But I also have vivid memories of feeling hated by the movies: see, practically every Arab I ever saw onscreen as a kid was being gleefully murdered by Chuck Norris, Schwarzenegger, et al. I think only Native Americans have had a cheaper, higher, more faceless body count in American movies.

Not a whole lot has changed since I've grown up, though nowadays Hollywood occasionally seems to feel obliged to include a token minor American-loving Arab good guy in its A-rab-kill-o-thons. Despite this "progress", my general sentiment toward Hollywood flicks that have anything to say about the Middle East is still best summed up by quoting Public Enemy.

Imagine my surprise, then, when my wife put me on to the upcoming movie Rendition. Now, don't get me wrong -- I can tell from the trailer alone that there are still some false and problematic assumptions here: an Arab man's life doesn't count until he marries a white girl, the government is still mostly good but there are some bad neocon apples, the US has a distaste for torture (ha!), but Arab governments love it, etc. Still, I never, ever thought that Hollywood would make a movie like the one advertised in the following trailer. I can't wait to see it.

12 comments:

Ibn Bint Jbeil said...

hmmmmmmmmm,

it does seem interesting enough, but since this is hollywood, my biggest question after seeing the trailer is: how does it end?

cuz when Average Joe American, his wife Martha Mainstreet, and their nephew Bobby Teenager are existing that multiplex, all they're gonna remember is that final resolution.

i guess we'll have to wait and see..

Saladin said...

Yeah, I'm curious about that, too. If it ends up turning out that the abducted husband really IS a terrorist...

My guess: the guy will be reunited with his family, and since good US agents will have helped to save him from bad US agents (and REALLY bad Arab agents) the message will be reinforced that the government is good, but a few overzealous types were out of control in this one situation...

Ibn Bint Jbeil said...

right on.

Invisible Woman said...

We'll see, after all, it is a Hollywood blockbuster, so there shouldn't be too amy surprises or twists.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater said...

That movie looks really good. My buddy did a documentary about the racial backlash after 911. Here's a link to it: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0867599/

Also, your music insights on my page were pretty money!

Borrego said...

Yup, that is the US of A for ya.

Saladin said...

@ invisible woman

wouldn't it be awesome, though, if at the end the abudcted arab guy was "they call me...Mister Glass!"

@ Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

Thanks, man. I'm sorry to say I'll probably be biting your style re: alphabetical list of themed songs at some point. But you've got the coolest avatar pic I've seen yet. Mothership connection!

Wanda said...

Wow, that actually looks like a good movie. Plus it has my main hottie Jake Gyllenhaal and pretty good cast (Meryl Streep?!), so I will def be seeing it. I really hope that the guy doesn't end up being a terrorist though. Probably will though.

Jack's Shack said...

Saladin,

How do you feel about things like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRz3nHwgjHY

transient said...

Saladin, good to see you got a blog.
About the film....
1. It still has the lead interogator as Arab (I assume)The Arab is hell bent on torture.

2. The interogator who starts to doubt is White, (is he the savior?)

3. The only person fighting for him, the Arab male, is his white wife.

4. There is still a terrorist attack.

5. There is still justification in their methods since it stopped terror attacks.

6. The average person watching a Hollywood film will only hear "terror" and "Arab" and that is the point of most Hollywood films with Arab characters.

Saladin said...

@ Jack's Shack: That video doesn't really have anything to do with my post. If you want me to say that Hezballah is worse than the IDF, I'm afraid you're going to be waiting a long time...

@ Transient: I expressed some of your concerns in my initial post.

I'm hardly jumping up and down in my love for Hollywood here. But if the Feds' case against this guy in this movie turns out to be baseless (as it would seem from the ad), that *does* represent something new in American cinema, where Arabs have always been guilty until proven innocent (which never happens).

Will said...

It is a relief to see a film where the perpetual covering on the Arab's head is not to disguise his or her identity during a hijacking/attack or because her husband and culture makes her do it.

To analyze this, I guess I will have to see it.

Also, I heard others were working on a big budget film about extraordinary rendition. Anyone hear anything?