Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Media Reaction to Islam in Light of 9/11

Our case study focuses on portrayal of Islam by the mainstream media before, during, and after the events of September 11, 2001. Today there is still heated discussion over what bias Western media in particular has in its depiction of Islam as a whole. An excellent site with insight from an Islamic point of view is http://www.MeccaCentric.com which contains many videos of lectures on the subject. Another wonderful resource is http://www.cair.com/ the official website for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Before the attacks on the World Trade Centers, Islam typically received little media attention in the United States, and was usually treated stereotypically as a result of historical conflicts and controversial practices. Very few people took notice as Islam was not seen as having much relevance to the United States.

Since 9/11, Islam has received much more news coverage in America, which has led to an increased understanding of the religion, but the big questions are how fair is the coverage and whether or not there is too much emphasis given to the radical elements of Islam. In 2006 the documentary "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West" was released and shown at some 30 college campuses in the United States amid some protest. In addition, a six-part series based on the film was run by a major news network, Fox News, in November 2006. Although they made it clear that the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful, the worry of prejudice and reprisal was definitely present in the wake of their showing. You can watch an abridged preview version of "Obsession" here: http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=obsession&sitesearch= (it's the fourth one down).

Although the prevalent view is that there is an anti-Islamic slant to the Western media, many dispute this, and the matter is far from settled, among Muslims as well as among others. For an opposing view from a former Muslim, visit http://mypetjawa.mu.nu/archives/188384.php
For a supporting view from a group not affiliated with Islam, see http://mediamatters.org/issues_topics/attacks_on_muslims_islam

At the very least, we in the West have been exposed to inconsistent takes on the Islamic religion, and breaking through the fog is important. Not only does this issue affect how we view Islam and the media today, but it also has potentially far reaching consequences in light of current U.S. foreign affairs. An understanding of the relationship between Islam and the media is crucial for an accurate view of the world today.


Christina Scalera said...

LBAR Blog Entry
Kristina Thompson
Christina Scalera
Michele Ebbole

Our group is focusing on famous Jews in the media. These include Jerry Seinfeld, Stephen Spielberg, Ari Fleischer, Zach Braff, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, Barbara Streisand, and Adam Sandler. These individuals were picked by us for their obvious ties to the media. We feel by studying how these people are viewed by both the media and Jewish community, we cover a topic most relevant to the assignment. We found that each of these people had really important contributions to the media, and through that, they contributed to their Jewish communities. For a very long time in this country there was a discriminatory attitude against Jews, and it is partly due to people such as these that these negative feelings have dissipated so much. Each and every one of these people have become famous based on their unique talents and genius, and by doing that they created serious positive light for the Jewish community. Spielberg for instance, resisted his roots during his early life, he was bullied and shunned for being a Jew, and he resented his Jewish background. But later in life he came to a realization of pride in himself and within his culture, and through that pride he created one of the greatest film masterpieces of all time, Schindler’s List. This film earned 7 academy awards, including best director for Spielberg. This film had a dramatic impact not only on Spielberg himself, seeing as he had immediate family ties that perished in the Holocaust, but also for his Jewish community and America in general. This particular use of media is probably one of the most influential, seeing as film can have such an impact on its views, and Schindler’s List is an incredible example of how a film can completely change someone’s perception of something. "Going into the theater I felt I'd seen all that there was to know about the Holocaust... (but) by the time the credits rolled, and I filed out of the audience, I felt such a mixture of emotions. Of course I was saddened and deeply moved by the film, but I also felt slightly triumphant. I had this feeling of victory because I knew that Spielberg had succeeded with this incredible film, and the story of the Holocaust would reach people it may have otherwise never reached”, said a Jewish woman after viewing the film. Another American commented, “I remember the people I saw in the audience, faces young and old, all with red, glistening eyes affixed to the movie screen. All those people feeling the pain, the same pain that I knew we were all experiencing, that we all shared. We were all together at that moment, bonded in remembrance and sorrow, and it is a feeling that can bring tears to my eyes even now as I write this. The shared pain of the Holocaust was so enormous, so tragic...." Spielberg accomplished something so profound that it is hard to come by these days; he created a common bond shared by all people simply by showing the pain that his people had suffered. And in doing this he made a significant positive impact through the media.
We detailed many people to show that these people have made positive impacts on the world through their contributions to the media and their representations of their faith in all that they do. They have made the world a better and happier place through their use of film, acting, comedy etc. The Jewish community is very proud and supportive of all the talents of these people. For example Jerry Seinfeld was treated almost as royalty on his last visit to Israel. Even as a simple comedian he was able to meet with both the President and Prime Minister. His impact as well as the impacts of all the others is significant and has done so much to lessen anti-Semitism, especially in the United States, where people are so closely connected to the media.

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*I could not figure out how to make an original post and niether could my other group members. We apologize for the inconvenience*

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