George Clooney asked him to work as a consultant on two films – including “Syriana” – and national news programs and networks such as “The Today Show,” “Nightline” and CNN have featured the Hilton Head author on a regular basis.
But retired communications professor Jack Shaheen said it’s a lonely job taking Hollywood to task for the ethnic stereotypes it portrays. He’s ready for more company on library bookshelves and lecture circuits.
“I don’t talk about my work with most people, because it gets one of those ‘Oh’ responses and the subject changes,” said Shaheen, an internationally-acclaimed author and media critic whose work focuses on identifying the negative portrayals of Arabs and Muslims in movies and on television.
Former White House correspondent Helen Thomas once described him as “a one-man anti-defamation league,” according to a press release.
“I think there’s a growing awareness and I see change happening. I don’t think I’ll be a one-man band for very long,” he said. “But there’s no group behind me. I don’t have grants. Someone’s eventually going to say, ‘Shaheen did this, but I can take it a step further.’ And that’s what I want to see happen.”
In addition to writing four books and a documentary on the subject matter, Shaheen has conducted communication seminars throughout the Middle East and given more than 1,000 lectures across the United States and internationally. He’s also written essays on media stereotypes for Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and dozens of college textbooks.
His latest book, “Guilty: Hollywood’s Verdict on Arabs after 9/11,” examines Arab and Muslim images in more than 100 post-9/11 movies and challenges industry heavyweights to shatter the villainous stereotypes that the cinema presents to both the American and international public. The writer said it’s a problem he noticed and addressed well before 2001, starting with the cartoons his children watched on Saturday mornings during the ’70s. (MORE)