One our co-founders, Jim Mullins, recently forwarded me a 50 minute documentary that unveils how Hollywood has slandered Arabs, using them as caricatures and stock villains. I was deeply disturbed when watching this. The need for visual peacemaking in our world screamed at me. So loud was the call to bring new perspectives where harmful stereotypes exist. This reality gave me cause to reflect, to value all of you, and write this blog post.
You cannot compete with Hollywood on their grounds or their terms. They are an Ocean but WE are many Streams! You can use social media, your blog, commenting online, and this website community to influence thousands, and someday possibly millions. Take your camera, your vision, and be intentional. It starts with you. However, going at this alone is inefficient and ineffective.
Currently, I see two major ways that you as an individual can use the strength of numbers to combat cultural stereotypes being reinforced daily in visual media. You can
- Upload your best, most relevant cultural photography & documentaries here, and then use your communication channels to invite others to view this website and your work.
- Get people you know to think about what it means to view images responsibly by inviting them to sign our Charter for Visual Peace.
We start here. Over time we will measure and evaluate, make necessary adjustments, and initiate other innovative ways to be Visual Peacemakers!
Now, I recommend you watch this documentary and perhaps not alone, but with others. And then talk about it. It will surely reveal to you just how important you are as someone who will take a camera and tell a different story--one of beauty, dignity, and complexity.
image: Antoine Reveau
Here's the synopsis of the film:
"The Arab is a one-dimensional caricature, a cartoon cutout used by film makers as stock villains and as comic relief. And so, over and over, we see Arabs in movies portrayed as buffoons, their only purpose being to deliver cheap laughs. This groundbreaking documentary dissects a slanderous aspect of cinematic history that has run virtually unchallenged from the earliest days of silent film to today’s biggest Hollywood blockbusters. Featuring acclaimed author Dr. Jack Shaheen, the film explores a long line of degrading images of Arabs–from Bedouin bandits and submissive maidens to sinister sheikhs and gun-wielding “terrorists”–along the way offering devastating insights into the origin of these stereotypic images, their development at key points in US history, and why they matter so much today."
Does anyone have a gallery here yet of Arabs? I'd love to see it and draw everyone's attention to it. Tell us about it in a comment below.
Put your camera in your hands. Hold it like the gift that it is. Ask yourself, "How can I serve humanity with this device?"