The problem with Muslim representation in movies

by Meral San, Staff Writer

   When I find a movie that has a muslim character I automatically feel nervous. What will it be this time? Muslim girl taking off her hijab for a boy? A movie relating to terrorists? Representations of muslims in movies in our generation feed into the stereotypes that are unrealistic.We’ve seen it many times but when we do get that bit of diversity it’s most of the time something that creates a false concept in people’s minds.

   Many movies don’t have muslim representation in the first place. So when there’s an example that feeds into a stereotype that’s already there it creates a false concept of Islam itself. An example of a movie is Cuties which is on Netflix and came out in 2020. It shows a young tween girl who is a part of a strict muslim household. The movie shows her being torn between her “oppressive religion” and a dance group. A stereotype of muslim women is that they’re oppressed and aren’t independent. In the article, “Muslim Representation On Screen Has A Long Way To Go,” explains how muslim women especially are overlooked when it comes to storytelling. Muslims make up 25 % of the world’s population yet characters in popular tv series only 1.1% are muslim.A report on depiction called, “Missing and Maligned” also analyzed the muslim representation in movies as well as the top 200 grossing movies between 2017-2019 across countries. It states in the report, “ Of 8,965 speaking characters, 1.6 percent were Muslim.” The leader of the research project, Al0Baab Khan says, “Not only is this radical erasure, it has the potential to create real-world injury for audiences, particularly Muslims who may be the victims of prejudice, discrimination, and even violence.” These statistics are a problem. The percentage of diversity and misinterpretation of a religion that is the second largest in the world is alarming, especially for how long the film industry has been around.

   In the article, “New Initiative Aims to Change How Movies Portray Muslims,” discuss a new plan that is to promote muslim inclusion in films with the support of Disney. A partnership with Disney and Illuminative created a guide that works to raise the visibility of people in American society and representation. Showing an effort to create representation is the first step of bringing our society together.

   Muslim representation is usually fit into one box and not diverse. Showing different examples of muslims and creating more narratives should be prioritized. When someone meets or sees a person with a different religion,culture,ethnicity, etc, assuming a stereotype about them because of something they see online creates a harsh society.