For a long time, Hollywood has always showed extreme versions of stereotypes of other cultures and religions in films. More than often these stereotypes are represented in a negative way or are casted as the antagonist. Six years after the 9/11 attacks, the movie “The Kingdom” premiered. This was the first movie to be produced after 9/11 where terrorist attacks were showed. This movie is roughly based on the 2003 bombings that happened on an American oil company housing compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. While the movie did a good job on shedding light on what is going on in the middle east, it depicted a very negative view on the Islamic religion. The Kingdom furthermore added to the stereotype that post 9/11 America already had on the religion, that all Muslims are violent terrorists. The movie portrayed Muslims as being terrorists by showing scenes where they are performing violent acts, training their youth to be future terrorists, and using Muslims in scenes where they commit terrorist actions.
After 9/11, many people had the idea that being violent was part of the Islamic faith. Most of people’s knowledge of Muslims and Islam were shaped by the portrayal negative stereotypes showed in films and what was covered by mass media. Many Muslims living in America were affected by this. Movies that were based in the Middle East and included Muslim characters did not help eliminate the negativity surrounding that stereotype. Almost every scene in ‘The Kingdom’, Muslims are seen committing some sort of violent act whether it be at an American or at another Muslim. In many of these scenes in the film, the terrorists are heard reciting Islamic passages before executing such heinous acts. Toward the end of the first ten minutes of the movie, a suicide bomber dressed as Saudi police officer runs into a crowd of people and recites such before detonating himself, killing hundreds of people in the process. The following scene shows Muslims filming what happened as they are reciting more passages. This unfortunately further helps distort people’s emotions toward Muslims and adds to the stigma that violence is an inseparable part of the Islamic faith.
Fast forward a couple of years after 9/11, mainstream media began reporting on how terrorists are involving naïve and extremely impressionable children in extremist movements. That caused more fear to spread into American minds that all young Muslims were to join terrorist organizations. This adds another example on Muslims being portrayed as terrorists in ‘The Kingdom’ in that it shows a great deal of Muslim youth being trained as terrorists or involved in terroristic acts. In one scene you can see a Muslim teen being taught to build a bomber vest and load explosives into a car. These scenes cause more negativity towards the stereotypTe as it paints a picture in people’s minds that they brainwash their vulnerable and susceptible youth to be future terrorist extremists.
Majority of the Muslims in ‘The Kingdom’ are showed engaging in terroristic actions. These scenes start at the seven-minute mark in the movie, with most of these actions being towards Americans. The first scene shows a pair of Muslims hijacking a Saudi police car and then shooting at people on an American housing compound. Following this attack as previously stated in the second paragraph, another Muslim dressed as a Saudi officer runs into a fleeing crowd of people and detonates his suicide jacket. In between both scenes, the camera shows a group of Muslims filming from a roof top who are obviously behind these attacks. This adds more hostility towards the stereotype.
It can be concluded from one’s observations that the intentions from the director, Peter Berg was to portray all Muslims as terrorists in the film, ‘The Kingdom’. This further promotes negative opinions in people’s minds towards Muslims.
These damaging attitudes about the Islamic faith only help to contribute to an already Islamophobic America. As a result, the lives of many Muslims are affected by this. While it is ok to fear actual terrorists, it is critical to know that not all Muslims are violent terrorists. Contrary to popular belief, the Islamic faith is very harmonic and promotes peace to everyone. Just like with religion or organization, there is always a small section people who take things out of context and to the extreme. A lot of people in todays world have in their minds that if they do not understand something, they should fear it. These types of thoughts only create more hatred in the world whereas if people took the time to learn and understand other individuals different from them, then society as a whole would be a much better place.
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