Sacha Baron Cohen’s Way of Othering

The Dictator, the controversial movie of Arab stereotyping, portrays Arabs as “others” but at the same time challenges Americans’ prejudice against Arabs and Muslims. Most of the Arabic characters are violent, highly dangerous and animalistic. Their savageness and nonhumanized features are repeatedly shown during the movie. Being deprived of complex emotions, craving both sex and white American women are all associated with Arabs. It’s as if they can’t be related with an urbanized look, instead their characteristics are always traditional and narrow-minded.

People’s prejudice against Arabs trying to destroy anything for any reason is highly prevalent among the society. Soon after a white person hears an Arab Muslim utter the words: 9/11, Osama Bin Ladeen, Empire State and etc., they make a connection and classify them as terrorists. Acts like kidnapping, slaughtering, executing and suicide bombing are found suitable for Arabs rather than any other nation in the world.

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The polygamous identity of Arab culture, along with the women devaluation and oppression, is another attribute that has been marked on Arabs. For example, when General Aladeen was talking to Zoey about educated women, he said: “I love it when women go to school. It’s like seeing a monkey on roller skates-it means nothing to them, but it’s so adorable for us.” These words clearly exemplify how the film industry aims to relate Arabs to women devaluation and oppression. Women are and will always be submissive and in-the-shadow in any Arab culture according to the society.

I believe Sacha Baron Cohen pondered on society’s prejudice and tried to mock their fear of Arabs and Islamophobia. His humour can be regarded more than just a simple sarcasm, it can be perceived as a silent opposition to Islamic Arab stereotyping. There may be plenty of Arab stereotyping in abundance throughout the movie, however this constant reminder can be interpreted as injustice and as something that needs to be exterminated.

 

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