The Cinematic "Arab"

  • David H. Anthony


THE CINEMATIC "ARAB": FROM THE LONG SHIPS TO HIDALGO IMAGES of "Arabs" have been perennial staples of both Hollywood feature films and US television. The degree to which these are stereotypical has been examined in studies by several critics. In spite of their admonitions, however, they remain fixtures of America's dream factory. The recent film Hidalgo reveals the reproduction of these tried and not so true representations, but also seeks to address some of the criticisms and to make redress for transgressions visited upon the two principal groups depicted within it, "Arabs" and Native American Indians. In the course of doing so, it takes on North American "racial" formation, historical relations between the New and Old Worlds and British imperialism. Finally, Hidalgo is a curiously complex tricolour tapestry of racial binaries, the antinomies of "White" vs "Red," "Black" vs "White," "White" vs "Arab" and "Red" vs "Arab." If it...