I’ve made my debut as the Film Critic and Pop Culture Correspondent on Rising Up with Sonali! We discussed the colonial and racist past — and present — of The Jungle Book. You can see the video here. If you’re in the LA area, the radio interview will be aired on KPFK 90.7 FM on Monday 4/18 at 8:20 AM, and online at kpfk.org.
NEW FILM “MUSTANG” EXPLORES YOUNG WOMEN’S VITALITY—AND PATRIARCHY’S BRUTALITY by Stephanie Abraham
The beautiful and challenging new film Mustang looks at the lengths that people will go to crush female independence and sexuality, and the varied responses young women can have in the face of strangling sexism and male domination. It’s notable that the film, which takes place in Turkey with a Turkish cast, is France’s official entry to the Academy Awards—the director, Deniz Gamze Ergüven, is Turkish and French.
Mustang’s story is told through the eyes of Lale (Günes Sensoy), the youngest of five orphaned sisters who are being raised by their grandmother in a small Turkish town. Lale is only nine years old, but is wise enough to see injustice and sassy enough to renounce it. The film opens with her as narrator saying, “It’s like everything changed in the blink of an eye. One moment we were fine, then everything turned to shit.” (more…)
Heba Amin, an Egyptian visual artist, Karam, an Egyptian-German artist, and Don painted Arabic graffiti on the set of Showtime’s series Homeland [Al Jazeera]
To read the article on Al Jazeera’s site, click here.
Homeland hacker challenges media portrayals of Muslims
Visual artist Heba Amin discusses the thin line between news and entertainment and making a point through humour.
When the German publisher Don Karl approached Heba Amin, an Egyptian visual artist and researcher, to paint Arabic graffiti on the set of Showtime’s series Homeland, her initial impulse was to decline, as others had before her.
She rejected what she viewed as the programme’s orientalism and its framing of diverse peoples from South and West Asia as monolithic evildoers.
But then she reconsidered. What if she could use the moment to spark a dialogue?
So, in collaboration with her colleagues, Karam, an Egyptian-German artist, and Don, she did just that.
To hear me interviewed about the article on the podcast Popaganda, click here.
I look at how Jeannie, from the 1960s sitcom I Dream of Jeannie, started off as an over-the-top Arab stereotype, but over the show’s five-year run was forced to assimilate due to pressure from network executives who wanted her to be more “likeable,” i.e. American. I also break down how Orientalism helped ratings and why, even though Jeannie calls Tony “Master,” she can be read as a feminist, transgressive character.
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.
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’sAlice 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.