AMBIVALENCE AND SYMPATHY: NEW ORIENTALISM AND THE ARAB CHARACTERS IN RIDLEY SCOTT’S BODY OF LIES

Hanan Alaklook, Jamaluddin Aziz, Fauziah Ahmad

Abstract


Before the historic event of 9/11, Arab characters have been negatively stereotyped in Hollywood films. During this period, most Arab characters are usually played by Pakistanis or Indians. Nonetheless, post 9/11 sees the emergence of Arab actors playing Arab characters. Therefore, this paper examines a new strategy which is the Arab characters played by Arab actors (we refer to as AaA) in Hollywood films post 9/11 by zooming in on the film Body of Lies (2008) directed by Ridley Scott. Employing one theme from New Orientalism, which is, ambivalence, and one of Alsultany strategies, which is, “sympathizing with the plight of Arab post 9/11”,  this paper uses textual analysis as the method, focusing on how the Arab characters are depicted as sympathetic characters and how this in turn creates a sense of ambivalence. Homi Bhabha idea’s of the ambivalence is employed in this paper which proposes that a stereotype is used to mirror the hidden strategy that can be traced in this film. We argue that one way of achieving sympathy is by portraying the Arabs as victims, that is,   the film humanized these characters to reflect the Arabs and Muslims in post 9/11 dilemma. However, since the Arab characters are caught between being linked with terrorist attacks by race and religion and being a victim of American collective fear of them, these sympathetic characters, we argue, are merely tool of the New Orientalist.


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