Representation of Moroccan Women in Hollywood
Casablanca – Throughout history, Hollywood has used repetition as a teaching tool to affect people’s thoughts and beliefs. Many writers and American filmmakers support this idea.
In his book and in the documentary Reel Bad Arabs, Jack Shaheen explains how the persistence of depicting Arabs in a degrading fashion over time has worked to cement prejudicial attitudes toward Arabs and Arab culture. This process helps to reinforce a narrow view of individual Arabs and the effects of specific U.S. domestic and international policies on their lives. The images of Arabs as villains have been with us for more than a century, inherited from the European travel writers, who depicted Arabs as subhuman.
Hollywood’s movies continue to recycle the same degrading stereotypes about Arabs, and Inarritu’s movie “Babel” is no exception. The film tells multiple stories taking place in Morocco, Japan, Mexico, and the U.S. Of the four settings, the scenes shot in Morocco depict it as the most uncivilized place. This movie advances false representations of Moroccan women or Arab women in general. It contains many images of Moroccan women that deviate from the truth. The movie simply magnifies a minority of women and tries to generalize all women based on them.
How Does “Babel” misrepresent Moroccan Women
The five types of women represented in the movie are significant because they contain clear messages about how Hollywood and the West perceive Moroccan woman and their social status. First, silent and in the background, are sexualized dancers, portrayed as dirty, unattractive witches. It is easy to single out silence as the most common characteristic of Moroccan women. Rarely do we see women given a voice, and they never express their opinion about anything.
This notion of silence is demonstrated in the beginning of the movie, when we see the Moroccan mother preparing tea with her daughter – the way that they are excluded makes them look like slaves. The daughter appears with her mother as if she is learning the behavior that she will need to mimic once she is married. A comparison could be drawn here between the mother and the Japanese girl Chieko. The Japanese mother’s actions speak louder, even though she is silent by nature, even louder than the voice of the Moroccan mother, when she is given a voice. The presence of the Japanese girl is felt as she looks for her happiness (sex).