Monday, November 16, 2009

Is The Media to Blame?

We Muslims love to blame others for our own shortcomings. Anything goes wrong, its the media's fault, the Jews' fault, the other groups' fault, yet do we ever stop to think that it might just be our fault. I just want to look at one specific issue today, the portrayal of Muslims in Western Media.

Firstly, there are negative portrayals of Muslims in SOME Western Media, not all. Yes, we can Muslims portrayed as terrorists, oppressors, etc by some Media, but we need to be fair, not every portrayal of Muslims is bad and its not always their fault. Let's examine the portrayal of Muslims in Movie for example:

The most famous blockbuster movie in recent times to be blamed for portraying Muslims in a bad light is "Iron Man" in which the superhero fights Afgani Warlords. Now we must be fair, firstly, none of these Afganis ever mention anything about Allah, Islam or say anything Islamic at all, we just assume they must be Muslims. Secondly, Muslim Afgani Warlords are a reality, they are real Muslims in Afganistan and they are bad people and since we Muslims have not done anything about it, it was only a matter of time before the West created and sent in a superhero to sort them out. Besides, didn't Iron Man save an Innocent Muslim Father from them? Therefore, I do not think Iron Man was demonizing Islam, but rather Muslims are at fault for misrepresenting Islam in Afganistan.

This is a key issue, many times the Western Media, either purposely as in the case of Islamaphobes, or mistakenly when they are ignorant, see Muslims teaching and doing wrong things and as a result, that gets headlines in the media. Its wrong but it is not their fault entirely, we also are to blame. We misrepresent Islam yet we want Non-Muslims to represent us properly, does that even make sense?

One the other hand, when Muslims are good role models and beacons of Islam then the Western Media will also represent them as such, as in the case of Saladin in the movie "Kingdom of Heaven" or Maalik Al-Shabaaz in the movies "Malcolm X" and "Ali". Thus showing that the portrayal of Muslims is not always biased in Western media, if a Muslim is a true practicing Muslim and a positive role model then he too will be portrayed as such in the media.

Unfortunately, there are also those who are Islamaphobic and portray Islam purposely negatively as in the case of the perverted Adam Sandler movie "Don't mess with the Zohan" which portrayed Islam as bad, Palestinians as terrorists, Isrealis as heroes and portrayed women in general in a disgustingly negative manner.

So what is the solution:

1. Change ourselves:

If we are positive role models of Islam and change our communities to do so as well then we give the media less reasons and excuses to portray us negatively. If Muslims stop oppressing women, committing and condoning act of terrorism and other such unislamic evils then the media will have no excuse if they portray us negatively. If we do nothing about Afgani terrorism then Iron Man will!

2. Produce our own media:

Realistically though, even if we do the above, there will still be those Non-Muslim Islamaphobes who will persist in negatively portraying Islam. To combat this, we need to produce our own media and movies. Muslims are too backwards in general when it comes to media, we need to wake up and start doing productive things to make a change, and producing Islamic movies is one way in which we can not only provide an alternative for Muslim youth, but we can convey the true message of Islam to Non-Muslims in an exciting manner.

So thats what is needed to be done, it is not easy but it will make a difference. I myself would love to direct my own movies one day, I have so many ideas and scripts which I have prepared, hoping that one day when I have the right finances and crew, I can make my movies a reality. We need to be realistic, Islamic Media is no longer a novelty, it is now a necessity!

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