We Hate The Message, But Love The Film
As a Muslim you’ve definitely gotten tired of it by now. The stereotypical, ruthless, bearded, Muslim guy with a vendetta against all things good and Western wants to irrationally kill hundreds or even thousands of innocent people.
Of course, the movie might give the Muslim terrorist (or freedom fighter) a good reason for wanting to become a mass murderer. Perhaps his family was wiped out by an errant bomb over Afghanistan. Or maybe he’s tired of arrogant U.S. soldiers traipsing through his beautiful desert garden. Or maybe he’s just upset that Leverage was cancelled (I know I was).
But whatever the reason, it has become all too common to see Muslims as the bad guy in major Hollywood movies.
Very often, these movies turn out to be pretty bad. Let’s be serious; if a movie producer can’t come up with better villains than angry Arab/Pakistani/Muslim terrorists than the movie is almost guaranteed to be a stinker.
Some of the really bad ones that come to mind include:
- Delta Force starring Chuck Norris – A bunch of Arab terrorists hijack and airplane and good ol’ Chuck Norris with his martial arts and fancy motorcycle swoops in to save the innocent Israeli passengers.
- Rules of Engagement starring Samuel L. Jackson – A heroic soldier is court martialed for opening fire on a bunch of Arab civilians. We later find out the innocent Arabs (including the little girl with crutches) were all trying kill him therefore he was justified in murdering them.
- The Siege – How can a movie with Denzel Washington and Bruce Willis go wrong? Well, locking up thousands of Muslims in Brooklyn’s Navy yard, a couple of extrajudicial killings, and a thermal image of two people making babies just might do it.
But there is something we have to admit.
There have actually been some really good movies that made Muslims look bad. In fact, some of these movies have become classics and are loved by millions of people (including Muslims).
So let’s take a trip through Hollywood and look at the top 6 movie hits that get a pass for depicting bad Muslims.
In all truth, the Westerners in this movie were a lot worse than the Muslims.
This was a complex movie that showed how the lives of three different families on three different continents were intertwined.
It also showed how the media can sometimes blow up little incidents and make them into something bigger than what they really are. And it also shows how so many countries are willing to break their own citizen’s backs at the behest of the U.S. government.
But why, oh why, did it have to show that little Arab boy masturbating while watching his sister dress? Why did they ruin and otherwise touching movie with this lurid scene?
I really hated enjoying this movie.
It had every Muslim stereotype you can think of. And many things that weren’t stereotypes.
- It had the rich, billionaire Arab oil guy.
- It had the Muslim, fundamentalist terrorist.
- It had the traitorous, beheading Arab mercenary.
But it was such a darn good movie.
Syriana showed how complex geopolitics can be. It showed how the West uses it’s military and technical might, not always for justice, but often for profit as well.
In fact, Syriana was very accurate in showcasing the different Islamic ethnic groups by differentiating between Iranians and Arabs and Pakistanis.
But the fact remains, it still had a billionaire Arab oil guy, and a Muslim terrorist, and a mercenary with an itch to lop off some heads.
Ah, yes. Not even Disney could resist the urge to cast Muslims in a bad light. Even in a movie about Islamic mythology with a Muslim hero and a Muslim female interest (who really needs to put on a hijab) and even a kindly, albeit goofy Muslim king…
They still had to stick it to us.
The movie begins with such a stupid anti-Muslim misconception, I’m surprised it turned out to be as good as it was.
And all of this happens in the space of like, thirty seconds!
Of course, Disney is not going to show some kid getting his hands chopped off. They just drop the not-so-subtle hint it’s about to happen.
The thing is…it takes a whole lot for a thief’s hand to be amputated in Islam. According to authentic Islamic Fiqh, this boy’s hand would never have been chopped off for shoplifting an apple.
However, despite this crappy introduction, the rest of the movie was really great. The songs, the artwork, the script, that ridiculous blue Genie, all came together to spin a really good movie.
As a Muslim, you might hate the ridiculous male-fantasy driven portrayal of Jasmine, but you can’t really say it wasn’t an entertaining movie.
3. True Lies
Really, we should have known something was wrong with Arnold Schwarzenegger when he made this movie. This movie, more than anything else he said, showed his true colors.
This movie came out in 1994 along with two other really good movies that won all sorts of awards: Forrest Gump and The Lion King.
And despite being up against these two outstanding movies, True Lies did very well.
Because it was perfect popcorn munching, turn off the thinking cap, have a great laugh and enjoy the explosions action movie.
And the horse scene. You gotta love the horse scene.
This movie wasn’t just action packed; it also had comedy. Come on. Who can forget the Harrier jet scene and Arnold saying “You’re fired” just before launching the head bad guy to his fiery death?
And Jaime Lee Curtis dropping the uzi that bounced down the stairs and shot every single terrorist in sight?
Unfortunately, all the bad guys (except for the car salesman) were Muslim.
Yep..same old, same old.
Dumb, Muslim terrorists who call themselves, of all things, “Crimson Jihad.”
What the ****?
And of course, they want to get their hands on nuclear weapons and they want to kill a bunch of innocent people, including Arnold’s troublesome, yet innocent teenage daughter.
I absolutely hated the depiction of Muslims in this movie.
But the plot, special effects, and action scenes were great.
2. Iron Man
As a dyed in the wool comic book nerd, I loved this movie. Iron Man and Batman movies in the same year? Are you kidding me?
But as a Muslim…I kind of had to ignore the fact that Tony Stark was lighting up a bunch of Muslims.
Perhaps it helped that the Muslims he was blowing up were killing other Muslims…but I still don’t feel any better about it.
Even the opening scenes had a bunch of evil, terrorist Muslims killing a convoy of joyful, young, fresh-faced American soldiers.
Despite the fact the terrorists were able to wipe out the American soldiers with all their training and weapons and technology, they were no match for Tony Stark. All he needed was a little spit, glue, plywood, and an iPhone
to build the first Iron Man prototype.
And with his trusty (Christian) Arab sidekick cellmate by his side, he was able to kick all the terrorists butt and escape capture.
Later on, Iron Man comes back to the region to mop up the terrorists he failed to incinerate the first time around.
Fortunately, the Muslims in this movie weren’t the primary bad guys. The real bad guy was Tony Stark’s business partner.
So I didn’t feel all that guilty when I got goosebumps watching Tony Stark suit up as Iron Man for the first time.
I can sum up that scene in two words: Nerd heaven.
1. Back To The Future
Before there was Al-Qaeda.
Before there was Usama Bin Laden.
Before there was Saddam Hussein.
There was Libya.
Before 9/11, Libya and Muammar Khaddafi were America’s least favorite Muslims. And if any director needed some evil Muslims in a film, Libya could be counted on to provide them.
Back To The Future, starring Michael J. Fox, was no exception.
Why does a movie about time travel and the 1950’s Americana need Muslim bad guys? I mean, they had Biff for heaven’s sake!
Because the Delorean time machine needed nuclear energy to operate and as everybody knows, if you want plutonium, you gotta go to the Libyans (not the Americans or Israelis or any other nation that actually does possess nuclear technology).
However, if you can stomach the parking lot scene of the Arab and his Kalishnikov and bad aim hanging from the top of the VW van unsuccessfully trying to shoot young Marty McFly, you’re in for one of the best movies ever made.
I must have seen this movie at least twenty times. Heck, I saw it in the movie theaters when it first came out in 1985.
It has fast cars, rock and roll, the space-time continuum, and best of all…a mad scientist.
You can’t go wrong with a mad scientist. Throw in a flux-capacitor and the thought of just how weird it would be to see your mother as a teenager, and you’ve got yourself a terrific movie.
Each and every one of these movies have made me feel guilty. Either I feel guilty for rooting for the good guy, or because I was secretly relieved when the “bad” Muslim’s devious plot was thwarted.
Yet, each of these movies was undeniably a well done film.
The good thing is that portraying Muslims as the bad guy is going out of vogue now. It seems that the average moviegoer just groans every time they see the typical Arab/Muslim terrorist.
So while you might hate to love the movies in this list, you won’t have to feel too guilty about it for much longer.by