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Hollywood reworks Muslim stereotypes
by Julie Poucher Harbin
As part of his "Islam in Film" class at the University of Nebraska, religious studies professor Kristian Petersen screens movies such as "The Hurt Locker" (2008), "Argo" (2012) and "American Sniper" (2014) to make the point that depictions of Muslims on the big screen often involve a conflict narrative.
Muslim characters are either terrorists or "good" Muslims trying to overcome "bad" Muslim plots. In either case, they "are still constrained by conflictual framing," typically around themes such as terrorism, post-9/11 politics or overseas military intervention.
But Hollywood is slowly changing this paradigm as writers, show-runners, producers and directors reach out to cultural advisers and Muslims become part of the creative process. The Muslim Public Affairs Council's Hollywood bureau and other informal networks of academics, policymakers and regional studies experts are increasingly recruited by the movie and TV industry to offer advice on scripts, review raw footage and correct pronunciations for actors.
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