Islam, Muslims and Arabs in the Popular Hollywood Cinema
Issue: Vol 3 No. 2 (2007)
Journal: Comparative Islamic Studies
This is the age of Hollywood, yet, the pedagogic utilisation of popular films as a legitimate extra-ecclesiastical resource for the study of religion is frequently ignored, unappreciated or under-utilised. To thrive in the post-Millennial period, however, the religion professions need to integrate movies proactively into the educational curricula that go beyond their traditional deployment as visual aides, diversionary entertainment or student pacification. Applied cinema studies can thus contribute significantly to interreligious understanding, cooperation and peace-building, particularly the exposition of the many anti-Islamic messages embedded within the films of the West. Using textually based, humanist film criticism as the guiding analytical lens, the critical literature was reviewed and the popular Hollywood cinema scanned to reveal selected (mis-)representations of Islam, Muslims and Arabic culture in general. Both deconstructive and constructive issues were addressed. It was argued that: (a) the Hollywood hermeneutic is a viable pedagogic resource for the classroom, home and pulpit, (b) popular films can be profitably employed as a legitimate mode of interreligious dialogue, and (c) Islamic sacred subtexts should be constructed
to spread the message of God further afield. Additional research into
the emerging interdisciplinary field of religion-and-film was recommended.
Author: Anton Karl Kozlovic