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Type: Thesis
Title: Discourses of film terrorism: Hollywood representations of Arab terrorism and counter-terrorism, 1991–2011.
Author: Reid, Jay William
Issue Date: 2014
School/Discipline: School of Humanities
Abstract: Terrorism by the modern definition has existed since the French Revolution and the academic study of terrorists has been in place for over thirty years, yet the subject is far from fully understood. The September 11, 2001 attacks (9/11), while not representing a new era of terrorism, ushered in a new chapter in the public’s understanding of terrorism, and in the process elevated terrorism to a level of public and academic interest not previously seen. Given the power of mass media and entertainment platforms such as film to influence public opinion, it is important to consider the effects events such as 9/11 have on media objects such as Hollywood action films. Primarily utilising the Orientalist framework as outlined by Edward Said this thesis examines how discourses of Arab terrorism are created through the interplay between these media texts and how these representations respond to real world events. This paper will consider the onscreen representations of Arab terrorists and counter-terrorists in nine mainstream Hollywood action films released between 1991–2001 and 2001–2012, comparing and contrasting these two periods in order to determine the impact real world events such as 9/11 have on the screen mediations of Arab terrorism. In this study a number of discursive shifts can be observed; representations of Arab terrorists shift from comical pre-9/11 to serious post-9/11, with a framing of a personified Islam as the root cause motivation of terrorist attacks. Representations of female Arab terrorists only appear post-9/11, where their Arab upbringing and their femininity merge to establish them as a double threat to Western society. Finally, the figure of the Arab counter-terrorist is portrayed consistently pre- and post-9/11 and maintains strong Orientalist influences regardless of the time period, establishing these characters’ Arab heritage and position in law enforcement as creating internal conflict. This thesis builds upon the existing understanding of Arab screen images, presenting new research outcomes which have previously not been considered in the field.
Advisor: Cover, R.
Pugsley, Peter C.
Prosser, Rosslyn Winifred
Dissertation Note: Thesis (M.Phil.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Humanities, 2014
Keywords: terrorism; Hollywood; Arab; orientalism; film
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