Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Jack Shaheen is dead

In 1974, Jack Shaheen saw his little kids watching Saturday morning TV and talking about "Bad Arabs" on TV.  Shaheen was furious.  This triggered a new career for him.  He started a life devoted to the study of images of Arabs and Muslims in US TV and film.  His first book, the TV Arab, was published back in the mid-1980s, and he was very involved in the Arab-American community and its organizations (before they were bought off and transformed into arms lobbies by Gulf regimes in the wake of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait).  His mother used to work (outside of Pittsburg) as a cashier in a movie theatre, and he developed a love for film at an early age.  He wrote a lot and lectured a lot about the images of Arabs and Muslims in US TV and film.  He had tremendous energy and what struck me about him the most early on was his kindness, decency, and warmth.  He is truly one of the nicest people you meet.  He always spoke about his wife, Bernice, and how much support she gave him in his career. His film library is now deposited at NYU Middle East Center.  Shaheen was a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause and always detected and deconstructed Zionist themes in film.  After Sep. 11, he found the series "24" to be most damaging for the images of Arabs and Muslims. Condolences to his family and friends.