FX TV’s Tyrant Offensive on Many Levels
By Ray Hanania
Copyright 2014 Ray Hanania and Creators Syndicate
Click here to read column in ArabicRay Hanania
As an Arab born in America, I’ve come to accept that Americans are a fundamentally racist society that enjoys looking down on others as an artificial means of making it look better.
Maybe it comes out of the guilt that some harbor for the horrendous violence, brutality and inhumane treatment of Native Americans, African-Americans, Asians and discrimination against women and children that characterized the first 200 years of existence for the “leader” of the free world.
Much of the “education” Americans have of other people doesn’t come from historical text books or college education, but rather from ridiculously outrageous and offensive movies and TV programs that tend to define the stereotypes of ethnic minorities in disfavor. So how can I expect better?
And no ethnic or religious group is in more disfavor today than Arabs and Muslims.
The most recent contribution to this absence of moral entertainment in America is a new weekly TV series being broadcast on the FX TV network. It’s called “Tyrant,” the story of an Arab, Muslim dictator whose two sons engage in despicable violence.
The rape the wives of others, check the “virginity” of brides, brutally murder civilians, and spend money more than the Wolf of Wall Street could even imagine.
“Tyrant” is the brainchild of a bunch of Israelis; just in case you didn’t know many Israelis have a bias against all Arabs over the issue of making Palestine, once a place for Christians, Muslims and Jews, into a discriminatory Jewish state.
The executive writer is Gideon Raff, who a source on the show insisted to me weeks ago was angry at how his senior executive producer Howard Gordon distorted the storyline to be more viciously anti-Arab. Some of the cast and crew supposedly share Raff’s anger.
A lot of good that did. Raff hasn’t come out publicly to criticize Gordon, I’m sure because Gordon wields a lot of clout considering he also produced the highly vicious anti-Arab TV shows “24” and “Homeland.”
I’m not against the depiction of violence by Arabs or Muslims. It happens. Saddam Hussein and his two sons were vicious tyrants. They committed despicable acts of depravity murdering hundreds of innocent civilians. But this show isn’t about Saddam Hussein or his sons. It is about all Arabs and Muslims.
Yet Arabs and Muslims are not the only people in this world who have murdered civilians or are vicious, crazed and depraved. Violence really has no race, religion or ethnicity, except in the eyes of the guilty.
Why don’t the Israelis produce movies about their own depravity? Here’s one storyline to consider.
Focus on an Israeli Army captain in charge of several units stationed at Hebron in the West Bank, the Arab city where a handful of crazed, gun-toting Jewish settlers have stolen acres of land and buildings and intentionally provoke the Arab civilians in the city. The Captain sides with the settlers and engages in vicious brutality against the Arab men, women and children. The TV series could show the Israeli captain torturing civilians, raping women and shooting children.
That would entertain Americans, wouldn’t it?
Or, maybe, use a real-life model like Israel’s terrorist Ariel Sharon, or Menachem Begin, or Yitzhak Shamir, all former prime ministers with violent histories and allegations of terrorism, brutality and inhumanity.
Well, Hollywood is afraid to take on the Israeli lobby, so maybe they might settle for depicting the violent histories of the Irish, the Italians and others.
Better yet, do a TV series called “Throwing the Puppy over the Cliff” and depict some American soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan gunning down women and children during attacks on alleged terrorist hangouts. American soldiers never raped or pillaged civilians there, right?
We know what would happen. The same people cheering the FX TV show “Tyrant” would denounce those producers as “anti-American” and “anti-patriotic” terrorist-loving “Muslim fanatics.” They’d even call President Obama a “Muslim.”
If there were fairness in Hollywood or the television industry, the negative TV shows would be balanced with positive depictions of Arabs and Muslims who have done great things. And YES, there are many who have done great things, you racist pigs! Many!
Hollywood and the TV industry have learned to balance off the negative depictions of Italians, Irish and others. They produce many more shows that depict them in positive roles.
But those positive role models don’t exist for Arabs and Muslims in American society.
In part, I blame the Arab and Muslim communities, which love to complain but do nothing really to change our oppressive lives in this country. And it is oppression and mental brutality to subject an ethnic group to this kind of one-sided stereotyping hatred and racism on movies and TV.
We Arabs definitely don’t do enough. Wealthy Arabs have no comprehension of the power of communications, which includes the news media, the entertainment media and public relations.
Sadly, the love for violence and racism on American TV and movies says more about Americans than it does about Arabs.
“Tyrant” says more about the moral bankruptcy of American entertainment than it does about the alleged corruption of the Arab or Muslim world.
And the timing of “Tyrant,” coming only days before the start of the Islamic religious holiday of Ramadan, says a lot about the hypocrisy America represents.
Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian American columnist managing editor of The Arab Daily News at www.TheArabDailyNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @RayHanania. To find out more about Ray Hanania and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.