ADC Condemns ABC Decision to Purchase “Alice in Arabia” TV Show
Washington, DC | www.adc.org | March 18th, 2014- In a letter to the Walt Disney Company, parent company of ABC and ABC Family, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) strongly condemned the decision by ABC Family to purchase a pilot episode of the show “Alice in Arabia.” In the letter, which can be read here, ADC stressed that by purchasing the show, ABC Family is promoting bigotry and stereotyping of millions of Arabs and Arab Americans, and billions of Muslims around the world.
According to the official synopsis, “Alice in Arabia” is a television show about an American teenager who is kidnapped by her relatives and taken to Saudi Arabia, where she is kept as a prisoner in her Muslim grandfather’s home. According to ABC’s plot summary, “Alice must count on her independent spirit and wit to find a way to return home while surviving life behind the veil.” ADC strongly believes that imagery of the Arab and Muslim community as portrayed in the “Alice in Arabia” plot summary perpetuates demeaning stereotypes. The imagery and depiction of the respective communities as kidnapers and oppressors of women, reinforces harmful stereotypical depictions of the communities as thieves, criminals, persons who engage in violent acts, captives and/or persecutors.
In a letter to the CEO of ABC Family, Robert Iger, ADC President Samer Khalaf stated, “By purchasing the pilot, ABC Family has reinforced these damning views, and has shown the world that there is a market for hate and bigotry. ABC Family and the Walt Disney Company, as a major programming source for American children, adolescents, and families, possess immense influence on the American zeitgeist and next generation, and have a duty to exert that influence in a meaningful, positive way, not one that demonizes a people, a religion and a region.”
ADC encourages the Walt Disney Company to give this important matter proper attention and rescind its commitment made to “Alice in Arabia.” ADC will continue to work with community members and civil rights leaders to address this issue.
Click here to read letter from ADC to Walt Disney.
Below is the official synopsis for the television series:
“Alice in Arabia is a high-stakes drama about a rebellious American teenage girl who, after tragedy befalls her parents, is unknowingly kidnapped by her extended family, who are Saudi Arabian. Alice finds herself a stranger in a new world but is intrigued by its offerings and people, whom she finds surprisingly diverse in their views on the world and her situation. Now a virtual prisoner in her grandfather’s royal compound, Alice must count on her independent spirit and wit to find a way to return home while surviving life behind the veil. The pilot was written by Brooke Eikmeier, who previously served in the U.S. Army as a cryptologic linguist in the Arabic language, trained to support NSA missions in the Middle East. She left service in September 2013 as a rank E-4 specialist.”
Click here to read more about the issue in Al Jazeera America’s Blog Article: Does ‘Alice in Arabia’ perpetuate stereotypes and orientalism?