As I was about to lose sleep again, the BBC helped me out with an article in a very different direction. The headline ‘Actor Riz Ahmed wants to stop Hollywood’s ‘toxic portrayals’ of Muslims’. And he is right, for the most there has been too much toxic portrayals. When I try to find an alternative direction, my mind comes up with a title like Traitor, an amazing piece of work by Don Cheadle, I do not believe that to be a toxic movie, it stands out as a Muslim finds a way to stop bloodshed in a very innovative way, the end is to be seen again and again. I came up with ‘How to assassinate a politician’ which might be toxic, but I saw it as a response to ultra right discrimination and unacceptable levels of anti Muslim actions. Yet it is about Riz Ahmed, and when we see “The progress that’s being made by a few of us doesn’t paint an overall picture of progress if most of the portrayals of Muslims on screen are still either non-existent or entrenched in those stereotypical toxic two-dimensional portrayals” (at https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-57438750), he is right, there is another side given to us by Ali-Baab Khan “Muslims live all over the world, but film audiences only see a narrow portrait of this community, rather than viewing Muslims as they are: business owners, friends and neighbours whose presence is part of modern life”, there I see nothing new.
I have friends who are business owners, friends who were neighbours and still friends who live far away, they are Muslim and there is nothing wrong with that. Yet it is not merely about the narrow portrait, you see I have always considered myself well educated (three University degrees) and a whole range of experience all over the field, yet until a little after the Charlie Hedbo event I learned that the image if Mohammed was never to be displayed, it was a massive no-no in Islam, I never knew that, my schools never told me that. Now the era was out there that until I went to high school, I had never met a Muslim and even then I did not notice him for the fact that he was by himself a lot and I was in high school. Yet the knowledge behind Charlie Hedbo gave light to my version of ‘How to assassinate a politician’. Yet the stage was that I did not meet any Muslims until 1982 when I entered the Middle East, and in all that the teachings of the Catholic Church that was given to us in nearly all schools was about the evil saracens and us the good christians saving Jerusalem. So was it when Ridley Scott made Kingdom of Heaven (2005) that we woke up? Some woke up a little early, but a lot of us still haven’t woken up and those who rely on Lawrence of Arabia (1962) to give us the real news we will be up for a rude awakening. So as some give us “The film is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential films ever made. In 1991, it was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry” we need to recognise that it comes with the added “Most of the film’s characters are based on actual people to varying degrees. Some scenes were heavily fictionalised, such as the attack on Aqaba, and those dealing with the Arab Council were inaccurate since the council remained more or less in power in Syria until France deposed Faisal in 1920”, and as we take notice that there is no real actual and factual representation and this was until way deep past 1991, we see that not only does Riz Ahmed have a case, it is a much larger case than anyone can fathom, even if he is that one Muslim downing the Empire (a Rogue One joke). For me the massive filtering by the media gave me the clue that things are not right for almost a decade, but that means that for the longest time I was not aware of the party that was playing and that bothers me a lot. Does that not bother you? If you are in a small village like Hilversum (Netherlands) and you lived there all your life and you never looked around you might miss it too and you would be forgiven, I take it harder because I am supposed to be intelligent enough to see things, but there too is the crux, the media is a much larger problem in all this and they are banking on people staying asleep for as long as possible, and that gives light to the movie Syriana, a movie with 5 stages and the more you know the more brilliant that movie comes across. Does this help Riz? No, I do not think it does, but it does show that his claim is a lot more solid than we would have given it credit, and that matters too.