Citations Needed

Citations Needed is a podcast about the intersection of media, PR, and power, hosted by Nima Shirazi and Adam Johnson.

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Episode 113: Hollywood & Anti-Muslim Racism (Part 1) - Action and Adventure Schlock


The United States and its close allies Saudi Arabia and Israel have been bombing and occupying large sections of the so-called “Muslim world” for decades – drastically ramping up after the 9/11 attacks and seemingly with no end in sight. The U.S., like all empires, cannot operate a large, complex system premised on violence, meddling and subjugation without a moral pretext. This moral pretext, even before 9/11, was primarily about fighting a war on so-called “Terrorism” or “Islamic extremism” while allegedly promoting “stability,” “freedom” and “democracy.”   Along with American news media’s constant fear-mongering over scary Muslims lurking in the shadows, a major pillar propping up this moral pretext is pop culture – namely the cultural products coming out of Hollywood. Our decades-long "War on Terror" would no doubt be much more difficult to sustain without a constant reminder from TV and film that, despite the fact that the average American is more likely to be killed by a vending machine than a terrorist attack, the threat of Islamic terrorism remains ever-present and existential, marked by an inevitable “clash of civilizations” devoid of context or any notion that the U.S. is a primary driver of violence across the globe.   Over the course of three episodes, we'll be taking a look at how Hollywood’s television and studio film output helps prop up America’s military aggression in the Middle East, engages in both casual and explicit racism, strips conflicts of any historical or imperial context pushes the idea the only Good Muslim is a snitch or CIA agent, and generally leaves its audience angry and ill-informed.    In this episode, we review Hollywood’s long history of anti-Muslim racism in both classic and campy action/adventure films and TV and how it both primed us for – and sustains – the never-ending and self-perpetuating "War on Terror." 


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 2020-07-08  1h7m