Intercultural dialogue and cinema: a comparative study of the representation of Islam in Hollywood and Bollywood

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Rajesh Kumar

An extensive review of literature shows that there exists a remarkable uniformity among scholars, analysts and critics regarding how Hollywood portrays Islam and Islamic terrorism. Thus, in order not to reinvent the wheel, specific case studies have not been taken from Hollywood cinema and the conclusions have been drawn from a review of the literature instead. It is important to define what a stereotype is. In essence, stereotypes are sweeping statements or suppositions about a group whereby a defined set of characteristics is ascribed to that particular social group (Snyder and Tanke 1977, 656). It is easy to construct stereotypes when there is an apparent and consistent trait that can effortlessly be identified. That’s the reason why people of color, police, women, gays and terrorists are so easily stereotyped (Banaji and Hadin 1996, 136).

After understanding the concept of stereotyping, it is interesting to note how Hollywood, since its inception, has been stereotyping Arabs and Muslims in general and Islamic terrorists in particular. It is particularly notable that it is not a phenomenon that took place after the horrendous events of 9/11. However, it is true that the depiction of Muslims got even worse after the attacks of 9/11.