ADC Denounces FX’s “Tyrant” for Racial Stereotyping
Washington, DC | www.adc.org | June 25, 2014- The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) denounces FX’s new television series “Tyrant” for its deeply entrenched racism against Arabs and the Middle East. The series premiered on Tuesday evening and portrayed Arabs in a bigoted and stereotypical caricature that is not only offensive to millions of Arabs, but also contributes to anti-Arab racist sentiment worldwide.
Last night, ADC livetweeted the pilot around the hashtag #TyrantFX and wrote out many concerns about the aired content. The show, set in the fictional Middle Eastern country of Abbudin, mimics oriental elements from different Arab countries, catering to the Western audience’s limited understanding of the Middle East, and presents them as an overarching, generalized depiction of an indistinct Arab culture.
The main character is played by a British actor, effectively promoting the use of brown-face in mainstream television. Arabs are portrayed either as faceless, loud, angry mobs normalized to violence, or as rich, sex-hungry, corrupt warmongers. The Arabs are constantly portrayed as backwards and barbaric, in sharp contrast to the lead actor’s Westernized character and family. This portrayal only seeks to reinforce racist Western stereotypes and misunderstandings of the Middle East.
Arguably most offense were the three sexual assault scenes that took place within the first episode. Not only do they serve the purpose of reasserting the negative stereotypes of Arab men, but they are also incredibly tasteless and offensive to women who are sexual assault survivors and victims. The use of these vile scenes to paint a picture of an entire people and insensitively dismiss the real struggles of those that had to endure such events, purely for the sake of catering entertainment to a television audience, is impetuous.
Though FX seeks to tell the story of the family of an Arab despot, its portrayal of Arabs in “Tyrant” will unfortunately be received by audiences as a depiction of an entire region. This ceaseless negative portrayal of Arabs in the media is not only offensive and immoral, but results in very fatal real-life actions of hatred and racism against the Arab community.
ADC demands that FX gives this important matter proper attention and cancel “Tyrant” immediately. ADC will continue to work with community members and civil rights leaders to address this issue. We encourage all ADC members to take action by tweeting @TyrantFX and writing to FX at firstname.lastname@example.org to demand the cancellation of the show.
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