Tag Archives: Film

The Social and Cultural Construction of Abraham Lincoln in U.S. Movies and on U.S. TV

Abraham Lincoln has constantly moved among and stirred Americans in the common, shifting ground of their popular, visual, and digital imagination. Nowadays, Lincoln is larger than the sum of his parts. This is due partly to his own prismatic personality, partly to his political genius, partly to the special needs of the American nation and its people. If Lincoln did not exist, someone, somehow, would have tried to construct a representative figure who came close to the mark of what the Civil War, the fight for the Union, the failure of Secession, the liberty of the slaves and the material-spiritual expansion of America meant. But Lincoln existed. Lincoln hit the target. Here was witness, cause, martyr and lodestone all packed into one.

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From Sheikh to Terrorist? Arab Characters in American Film

The following text provides a brief discussion on how to integrate visual materials such as the film The Wind and the Lion (1975) in the EFL classroom when discussing the use of stereotypes in Hollywood productions especially in regards to Arab culture. The ideas were gathered in a workshop during the Teacher Academy 2005 and summarized for this publication.

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Arab Americans in Literature and the Media

Hollywood has a long history of stereotyping the Arab. From The Cafe in Cairo to The Siege, this Arab – invariably male – figures as the religious fundamentalist who sees in terrorism the only way to spread Islam over the entire globe. Having said this, this is not to argue either that Hollywood is ideologically corrupt, or that Arab (Americans) are the only ethnic group stereotyped in Hollywood’s cultural imagination. Yet while Hollywood’s Orientalism, which is actually based on a fascination with ancient Middle Eastern heritage, reflects a stereotypical depiction of everything Arab, Arab American literature can be seen as the other side of this projection or stereotype. Where Hollywood dramatizes, through the busting of ancient statues for the cause of terrorism, the Arab’s disregard for his own culture, novels such as Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner and Nada Awar Jarrar’s Somewhere, Home set out to preserve precisely a distinct cultural heritage, and go on to celebrate the contemporaneity and complexity of diasporic Afghan and Lebanese experience.

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From Zorro to Jennifer Lopez: US-Latino History and Film for the EFL-Classroom

The essay introduces some aspects of the history, demography, and culture of Latinos and gives an overview on films particularly suitable for discussing the history of this ethnic minority in the EFL-class. Questions of representation of Mexican-Americans-the biggest group of U.S.-Latinos-in Hollywood film and of self-representation in Chicano film are addressed in the last part of the essay.

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Screen Indians in the EFL-Classroom: Transnational Perspectives

This article addresses the question of what different audiences ‘see’ when watching movies depicting Native Americans, arguing that ways of ‘seeing’ are deeply embedded in specific cultural contexts. In particular, it is concerned with what a German movie-going audience—our EFL-students, in particular—see when watching blockbuster Hollywood movies like Dances with Wolves or popular Native American productions like Smoke Signals? Against the background of the West German Winnetou films and the East German DEFA westerns, respectively, German audiences on both sides of the iron curtain have been appropriating ‘Indians’ on their own terms, ‘using’ them for their own purposes and within their own cultural frames of reference.

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Bonnie and Clyde’s “Other Side”: The Good-Bad Outlaws of Larry Buchanan

Arthur Penn’s 1967 film, Bonnie and Clyde created a cultural sensation and still appears on critics’ lists of the best and most influential films ever made. Remembered for having sealed the folk-heroic myth of 1930s bandits Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, Penn’s film actually did far less to humanize and romanticize the outlaws than did The Other Side of Bonnie and Clyde, an allegedly anti-Bonnie and Clyde docudrama shot by Larry Buchanan in 1968.

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