US show "Tyrant"'s novel plot to vilify Arabs

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Our earliest intimate interaction with the foreign characters in Tyrant comes in the form of an aggressive sexual assault where we quickly learn that Bassam’s older brother Jamal is a sexual predator and philanderer in a scene featuring the first close encounter with an Arab woman. She is brutalized while her husband and small children wait outside, clearly able to hear the sounds. Juxtapose this with the shows inaugural note between Bassam’s American and non-Arab wife, and children, who are made to appear as the quintessential American family, as the teens sit discussing the prospect of being attacked during their visit to Abbudin by “them.” We are sent flashing back and forth between the naiveté of Bassam’s immediate family and episodes of violence that overwhelm and saturate the fictional land of Abbudin, with the sounds of traditional Arabic music tossed at viewers as a constant emotional trigger which exaggerates the foreign element of the land and those who occupy it. “You better be careful, this isn’t America,” warns Bassam’s teenage daughter after her brother is told he’ll be attending a bachelor party. The Arab man is a daunting figure after all and even during the bachelor party, which is held at a sauna, there is no escaping his malevolence. Bassam calls his brother out of the sauna so they may deal with the relative of a man who is allegedly planning to attack the wedding Bassam’s family is in Abbudin to attend, and then he watches as his brother beats this man nearly to death. The towel draped around Jamal falls as he applies blow after blow to the defenseless man and then attempts to cut off his fingers. Not even the shame of his nakedness pulls him away from wielding violence.

As the story marches forward we notice that Bassam, who had left Abbudin for a more tedious but unrestrained life in America, is clearly disturbed, possibly dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, and cannot even attend his nephew’s wedding without being reminded of the brutality he witnessed as a child. In a flashback we see a younger Jamal being pulled out of a vehicle by his father so he can shoot a man in the head. “The Arabs teach their children to hate,” as the stale orientalist adage goes, so it is not a far stretch for the writers to construct a murderous child influenced by the savagery of his culture. The audience now knows that his violence was part of the greater Arab mentality, which fosters a culture of hate and barbarism. Jamal’s savagery continues as we watch it being unleashed upon the next stock character we see in film and television – the Arab woman – the docile, obedient, easily manipulated and disposable creature. After witnessing his newlywed son’s wife laughing publicly alongside a male attendee of the wedding the audience immediately knows where things are going. The Arab man is angry. How dare she dishonor her husband and his relatives. Jamal soon follows her into the dressing room where she stands playing with her hair, and then the tension builds. His hands glide around the lines of her face as he lectures her on purity. “It would break Ahmed’s heart if the woman he married was not pure,” he whispers. Then, as we watch her beg him to stop, viewers are once again thrown into a brutal rape scene, this time with the second Arab woman they have been familiarized with. This is not even the last rape scene the writers crammed into the 50-some minute pilot, as later on we are shown the Arab woman at the beginning being viciously raped once more by Jamal in a moving vehicle. If you did not already view Jamal’s character as being nothing more than an insatiable barbarian it is pounded into you for good measure in that scene.

Bassam’s character, who may be categorized as being the “good Arab” in this series, is slowly undressed as we begin to examine his psychology and that of the Arab mind. Bassam is emotionally inhibited at all times and once in Abuddin his wife begins to feel a great disconnect, and the distance only grows after Bassam slaps his son across the face, twice, as she looks on – terrified. Here we find that even the “good Arab” is a monster in disguise and his identity as an American is nothing more than a frail shroud of deception, and the violence of the Arab culture is one which Bassam cannot escape, no matter how long his self-imposed exile lasts. Bassam’s wife grows anxious, confessing “I don’t know who you are anymore, I don’t think I ever did,” and suddenly a flashback: Jamal, who had been instructed by his father to kill a man, drops the gun and scurries back into the vehicle. As his father screams for him to return and finish the job we see Bassam, the younger of the pair, exit the car and stand before the man. Without hesitation he coldly points the gun at the weeping man and shoots him twice, killing him. Bassam does not flinch. The point being made here is that this is Bassam at his core, and at his core he is frighteningly cold.

The stock characters and sounds in Tyrant are the same as all other mainstream films and TV shows involving the Arabs – men with darkened beards, unnerving and penetrating rounds of ululation from veiled women and the muezzin’s call to prayer as a haunting backdrop. Then there are the elite Arabs who are flashy, play American music, and mingle with affluent white Americans. They do not adhere to religious dress codes, nor to religious moral codes, and they drink and fill themselves with the best liquor money can buy. Yet despite all this they cannot break away from the shackles of Arab society. No matter how Westernized the elite Arab woman is, with her casting away of the hijab and her captivating sexual presence, she remains a device, written into this script as being almost entirely silent but for whimpers and terse statements bolstering the fanaticism of male characters. Bassam’s teenage daughter is written into the script as being intellectually superior to the foreign Arab woman – when she is invited to the bachelorette party and told she would have fun and get a “henna tattoo” she scoffs, refusing to take part in what she finds to be a “patriarchal tradition.” The Arab woman is either dressed in subdued colours, her head lowered and sexually inhibited or she is a sensual and hyper-exotic creature that still has no authority over her sexuality but for being exploited and dehumanized by the Arab man. In Tyrant, and other similar television shows, the Arab man is a savage creature who rapes and pillages. He lovingly kisses his mother’s cheeks and hands but strikes his wife’s face and brings her crumbling to the floor beneath him. He gets drunk, dresses like the white man and speaks like the white man in bouts of broken English but is nothing more than an animal in a suit.

The evil Arab archetype is ever-present in film and television – the Arab is inept, blood-thirsty and unscrupulous in the serial drama 24, in Homeland we see the Arab and Muslim through American eyes as an abusive and murderous infiltrator and in Tyrant the one-dimensionality of the Arab is almost cartoonish. The impacts of these orientalist depictions are far reaching. These portrayals work to justify the day-to-day xenophobia Arabs and Muslims face to Israel’s current butchery in the besieged Gaza Strip; from encouraging the US spy on Muslim-Americans to rationalizing setting a Palestinian boy on fire or carpet bombing an entire people. Hollywood has not moved far beyond Lawrence of Arabia or Disney’s stereotypical portrayal of Arabs in the fictional desert-land of Agrabah who “will cut off your ear if they don’t like your face” (as the original lyric from the soundtrack goes). “It’s barbaric,” sang the peddler in Agrabah, “but hey, it’s home!” — the exotic natives dancing with veils in the streets, gargantuan swords, sorcery and over-exaggerated accents are as much a part of film and television today as they were long ago. In the 1992 film the protagonist and thief Aladdin (nicknamed “Al”) takes magic carpet rides with Princess Jasmine while in the TV series Tyrant Bassam (‘Barry’) and his family arrive in Abbudin in style by way of airplane, where they are the only passengers aboard, and their feet land on thick oriental rugs that have been laid on the ground. Here they come, straight from an American whole new world to the desert.

Roqayah Chamseddine is a Sydney based Lebanese-American journalist and commentator. She tweets @roqchams and writes 'Letters From the Underground.'


This is the facebook of the "producer" who made this bullshit
and guess what ?
ps: check the credit at the end of the serie you will find their name.

There is an ugly truth between US and Arabs which we hardly know about it. the people know the truth die early these days!

  • free pokies.

Maybe they can do a portrayal of the Zionist president Moshe Katsav and the victims he raped. Or the Pedophile British MPs in the 1970s & 1980s that is now big news in Britain... bet they're still at it now.

Well said Barry.../!

I was looking on youtube:-
H.R.H. Prince Alwaleed on the boat that he purchased from Trump when his back was to the wall. I thought I might get a gimps of REX, the current occupier & owner - opulence is rife amongst dogs.
H.R.H. Prince Alwaleed is pretty much the character type in TYRANT - n'est pas ...!/? - There he was walking amongst the masses, at Monaco with his crew of friendly security personnel. Later I watched the movie Green Street Hooligans / a group of men walking the streets, attitude infused with the God Complex, looking for recognition.

Piers Morgan in Spain, talking up the Super Rich & the EMPTY, 'cheap & nasty' mega-mansions built in a hurry & without correct regulatory standards.....i.e., watch it does not fall upon you when you least expect it.

DUBAI - EMPTY now that the aristocrat - freeloaders have left - & as they did not plant trees enough as a wind break. A certain amount of RECLAIMING THE DESERT would have been a wise move, Alwaleed. So, sooner rather than later the wind will cover it all with the sands from the surrounding desert. A case of, it shall come to pass - The Stuff of Biblical reward for self-serveing.

All these Super Beings dependent on each other & how well they can suck up to Lady Luck, to stay on top - the house of cards.
And we have the cast of TYRANT....................
SAD, SAD, SAD, indeed !

It's nice to see someone wrote an article about this! I am shocked, really, that they would actually use a non-Arab for the part of an Arab! They did that years ago with Native Americans, too. Also the Japanese. It was ridiculous then, and it's ridiculous now. Now it seems more offensive, because in this day and age - everyone knows better.

Don't they?

Apparently not, at least not when it has to do with anything that might have something to do with the religion of Islam. There are no-holds barred on that one.

Anyway, what really got me wasn't just that - it was also that the white guy plays the "good" brother. The Arab plays the "bad" one or rather, the "typical Middle Eastern" (according to Islamophobes everywhere, and even some regular people - thanks to the media's mega-propaganda.

That was the part that really got me. And there's even more. The one woman.. I don't recall her name but she was the wife of Bassem's friend, the one who got involved with the so called terrorist.. her husband was saying that "lately she has become more religious"... so the message here is... the more religious you are, the more likely you are to be a terrorist. (sigh) Also.. she wore the hijab...

Yet the new ruler's wife does not. Maybe the writers got confused here, who knows. All I know is that it is beyond offensive. I mean the entire thing, choice of actor, storyline, and yes - the sexual abuse was sickening. To open the show with that..?

But it does go right along with the stereotypes that Muslim men are (insert any awful description here) and that they oppress women.

I hope everyone who reads your excellent article takes a moment to write to the show as well. They need to know how we feel, not just Arabs.. but everyone who is disgusted at the way people are being depicted.

Barry: I see your comment above, and you say it's good that the show exposes the fact that "men in power - in the ME are abusers"? The problem with that is - it's not necessarily true. I imagine it's about the same as it is in the USA - with the politicians in washington dc - they all have any woman they want. It is not something that happens just in the Middle East. It happens everywhere - where powerful men become corrupt. I don't think it's fair to say that it happens more in the middle east.. it isn't fair at all.

As a woman I can tell you right here and now that I have had many more bad experiences with American men than I have had with Middle Eastern men. I'm not saying they are all perfect, but so far in my dealings they have been the most polite and considerate. It's very rare to find that in men born and raised in the US.

I think about HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz al Saud,
I watched the documentary - how the built a city on sea & sand, the magnificence of it all & THE TOYS:-
And I wonder why a modern man like Prince Alwaleed has not planted trees.
Once the Middle East was a jungle, a forest, they were poor, the wood was used for heating & cooking. Then the oil came, so I ask His Royal Highness Prince Alwaleed this, where are the trees ? All that you have done is truly magnificent, and where are the trees, that give us the air that we breathe ?
What a truly challenging task to reclaim the desert, a task worthy of a Real Prince.

I just sent you a comment it may or may not get to you - ?
is it interference ?
If you get it -
Midsummer Murders has the same mild mannered archetype killers.
Nasty to the end.

I have not watched this series, only a short clip / introduction -
Jio man, so what's new under the sun. Just spread the sentiment across the board - make it broad spectrum & you describe
1:- the wannabe's
2:- the wannabe aristocrats
3:- high achievers
The bad boy is sexy right up until he rapes & beats you beyond recognition, however he still remains sexy & a can do man to everyone else & he has THE TOYS DUDE. [ except you ] It is actually the adrenalin of the character that turns us on.
In that sense we are all wannabe's
book :
I believe that finding one's passion, & then pursuing it, is the key to a life of fulfillment, of achievement, of learning. I also believe that thousands of years of human experience clearly demonstrate &, indeed, prove, that passionate people are the extraordinary producers.
I believe that passion was what Christ was talking about when he said: "What good does it do you when you gain the whole world & lose your soul."

[ This book belongs to my brother in law Paul & I am not promoting the book here. ]
The evil archetype is present everywhere -
I am a murder mystery junkie -
Wire in the blood
I have an insatiable curiosity & I need to understand things.
I was a why.../? child "why" - "be quiet" - "why" that kind of annoyance & it never went away.
Just call me Sherlock, man !

I watched this show. It is designed to show the Arab tyrants who used terror and rape as tools of both control and pleasure. Khadaffy, Assad's dead brother Basil, Sadaam's sons and many others were documented to have done this with impunity. I have read interviews with Iranian and Syrian generals who defected to the West who said that this was simply a perk of the job. They see a girl on the street and they take her. It is a horror that this show exposes.
Any closed society (including Hasidic Jews, Amish, cults, militaries, etc.) is easy prey to victimization from within because of the taboo of discussing and accusing. To say that rape and torture are not tools in the Arab world's wars and society is closing your eyes to the truth.

One more time Barry the Zionist tries to whitewash racist propaganda. USA and Zionist all time use terror and rape as tools of both control and profit , while supporting the worst tyrants all over the world.

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