A blog by Jordan Elgrably, Levantine Cultural Center
The Iranian American Bar Assocation and Levantine Cultural Center were pleased to join forces to present "Dismantling the Axis of Evil: Reforming Middle Eastern Representations in Hollywood" on Tuesday, November 10, 2009. It took place with the support of the Los Angeles Central Public Library, Social Sciences Department and numerous cosponsors.
Maz Jabrani moderated "Dismantling the Axis of Evil"
Maz Jobrani has a jocular down-to-earth relationship with the audience.
Comedian/actor Maz Jobrani-who is bringing his hit comedy show "Brown and Friendly" to the Wiltern in January-was a quick-witted and funny host as he moderated a stellar panel that included scholar/author Reza Aslan (How to Win a Cosmic War); comedian Ahmed Ahmed-director of the forthcoming documentary "Just Like Us,"; actor and activist Shiva Rose ("David and Layla"); and attorney/author John Tehranian (Whitewashed: America's Invisible Middle Eastern Minority).
Reza Aslan pointed out that 60% of Americans polled have an unfavorable impression of Arabs/Muslims, though many said they had never met any. He also noted that Arabs/Muslims have a higher median income than others in the United States. Ultimately, Aslan said, we should influence Hollywood and the media with our pocketbooks, with our buying or veto power to influence content.
Ahmed Ahmed is a
natural cultural ambassador, who as a stand-up comedian has toured the Middle
East extensively, along with Maz Jobrani, performing comedy in English to both
observant and secular Muslims, in several countries. He documented his
experiences in the forthcoming "Just Like Us," which demonstrates that in fact
Arabs/Muslims are not all that different from Americans in their sense of humor
and appreciation for popular culture.
spoke of her experience as an actor going out for roles where she was expected
to play either a terrorist or a stereotypical Beverly Hills Iranian woman. Shiva
held up two recent covers of Newsweek to show that American media is
sensationalist and simplistic, in reducing Arabs/Muslims to extremist
stereotypes (Ahmadinejad, the Taliban).
John Tehranian expounded on the themes in his book, musing on how many Iranians, Arabs and other Middle Easterners get classified as "whites" yet receive none of the social benefits that accrue to other minorities. He pointed out that whenever someone who happens to be Muslim or Arab does something negative, as in the case of the Fort Hood shooter, it is blown up in the news, yet we rarely hear about positive contributions from the same communities. He suggested that many Americans still see Iranians and other Middle Easterners in the same light they are portrayed in movies such as "Not Without My Daughter."
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While the IABA and LCC along with their
cosponsors PAIA, AALA, BoomGen Studios and Shabeh Jomeh Los Angeles were happy
to be able to bring this program to an audience avid to participate in
meaningful dialogue on these important social and legal issues,
the program actually ran us into the red:
expenses were $1,203, but donations at the event totaled only $168, even though
over 200 people attended. Please help IABA/LCC cover this shortfall by
making a contribution online today.
here to donate online (or send your contribution to Levantine Cultural
Center, 5998 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90035-2657; be sure to write IABA
event in the memo line). Your contribution is 100% tax-deductible, and will
enable us to partner again the future to bring you a necessary follow-up
program. Please receive our thanks and gratitude for your support.
We will be certain to move to a larger venue since the demand for this program was so high and we were unable to accommodate everyone who wanted to attend.
... Payvand News - 11/30/09 ... --