I remember walking into the Sanrio store as a little girl and thinking I had landed in heaven. No other store in our suburban mall carried what I needed to survive elementary school: lunch boxes, pencils and their holders, markers, erasers, and so much more. We used to call it “the Hello Kitty store” because the famous white feline’s face—with her black eyes, yellow nose, three whiskers on each cheek, and pink bow over her right ear—appeared on every product.
This was originally published by Bitch on June 25, 2014.
The “Tough Issue” hits newsstands June 1st. I’m honored to have been chosen as one of five featured contributors:
My article, “Alice in TV Land” addresses what went down with ABC’s Alice in Arabia, as well as the divide between media critics and makers but looks to bridge the gap: “As an Arab American feminist trained to critique popular culture, I want to find ways to spark, influence, and create it as well.”
Here’s a pulled quote to wet your appetite:
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As an Arab American with a background in media criticism, I often feel like a broken record, calling out the endless stereotypes of Arabs in U.S. popular culture. I long for transgressive representations, those that break the mold and offer audiences thought-provoking stories about humanity. When I find them, I exclaim, “Alhamdulillah!”—an Arabic expression that literally means, “Praise be to God,” but culturally translates as: “Hell, yeah!” The independent film Detroit Unleaded deserves such a shout-out.
The Dutch chocolate-milk manufacturer Chocomel has produced a new commercial that has gotten nearly 800k views on YouTube in the three weeks since it was posted. How has a commercial for a sweet dairy drink drawn that kind of attention? By employing old Orientalist and racist tactics, and Arab face. You know the kind: sleazy Arab sheikh tries to get what he wants by luring an innocent white man into his “palace,” where eager, exotic women line the walls.
Although, I must admit they’ve put some fresh spins on an old move. Here’s how:
You may have heard of the classic story Alice in Wonderland. In the 1951 Disney film version of the Lewis Caroll tale, Alice finds herself in a newfound world, where she meets a cast of rude characters with outlandish customs, including a hookah-smoking caterpillar. Now what if instead of falling into Wonderland, Alice were kidnapped and taken to Arabia?