Nearly 1 / 4 of the world’s inhabitants is Muslim, however only one.1% of the characters portrayed within the 100 top-grossing U.S. movies from 2017-19 had been Muslim, in response to a brand new examine from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative launched Thursday.
The examine, “Missing & Maligned: The Reality of Muslims in Popular Global Movies,” paints a darkish image of the “erasure” of Muslims from 200 in style movies launched throughout these years in 4 nations – the U.S., the UK, Australia and New Zealand – and posits that their stereotypical portrayals as foreigners and threatening outsiders might have contributed to the rise of hate crimes towards Muslims worldwide.
“By one estimate, the number of potential anti-Islam attacks in 2019 exceeded 500 in the U.S.,” the survey notes. “That same year, nearly half of all hate crimes in England and Wales were targeted against Muslims. In March 2019, 51 individuals were killed and more were injured in a shooting at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. The violence against Muslims – online and offline – demonstrates dangerous biases in the population and real threats to individuals in this community. While the causes of such violence are complex, one arena that may exacerbate biased views of the Muslim community is the mass media.”
“The representation of Muslims on screen feeds the policies that get enacted, the people that get killed, the countries that get invaded,” stated Riz Ahmed, the Oscar-nominated Sound of Metal and Emmy-winning The Night Of actor who lent his assist to the report. “The data doesn’t lie. This study shows us the scale of the problem in popular film, and its cost is measured in lost potential and lost lives.”
The information exhibits that greater than 90% of the 200 movies examined didn’t function a single Muslim character, and that when they’re portrayed, 39% of main and secondary Muslim characters had been proven as perpetrators of violence; that greater than half of the first and secondary Muslim characters had been focused by violence; and that greater than 70% skilled disparagement, with 62% of them focused with racist and/or spiritual slurs or undertones.
Read the complete report here.
The report is accompanied by a set of suggestions from the Pillars Fund to create a Blueprint for Muslim Inclusion. Since its founding in 2010, the fund has distributed greater than $6 million in grants to Muslim organizations and leaders who advance social causes.
“Muslims, both on screen and off, have been constrained to a narrative that normalizes them as violent and positions their faith as related to extremism,” the report concluded. “While this sample of movies did not feature a significant percentage of films with narratives focused on war or terrorism, a notable percentage of Muslim characters were depicted in ways that perpetuate a view of Muslims as violent.” More than 17% of main and secondary characters had been proven as a part of teams that used violence to attain their objectives, and 19% of Muslim main and secondary characters died by the tip of their respective movies.
To convey their “otherness,” practically half of the first and secondary characters spoke with an accent that was reflective of a non-native English speaker, whereas 39% didn’t converse English in any respect. The report additionally discovered that lower than half of the movies that depicted Muslim characters had been set within the current day, 11% had been set within the current previous and that greater than 40% passed off within the historic or fantastical previous. It additionally discovered at of the 100 U.S. movies surveyed, not one featured a serious Muslim character in a present-day U.S. setting.
“More than half of the primary and secondary Muslim characters in these films were immigrants, migrants, or refugees, which along with other findings in the study consistently rendered Muslims as ‘foreign,’” stated Al-Baab Khan, a undertaking specialist on the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and one of many examine’s authors. “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 neighbors whose presence is part of modern life. By presenting Muslims in an abundance of storylines, audiences can see and resonate with the innumerable experiences of Muslims from all walks of life.”
The report additionally discovered that Muslim females are much more invisible than their male counterparts within the movies surveyed, accounting for lower than 24% of all Muslim characters and solely 25.5% of Muslim characters. Of the 200 movies from the 4 nations, 185 didn’t function a single Muslim woman or girl character who spoke a number of phrases on display screen. Of the 100 U.S. movies, 94 didn’t function any Muslim females in talking roles.
Of the 144 Muslim characters portrayed within the 200 movies, which featured 8,965 talking roles, 110 (76.4%) had been performed by male actors, in comparison with solely 34 (23.6%) performed by females – a ratio of three.2 male Muslim characters to each one feminine Muslim character.
And when they’re depicted, Muslim girls had been primarily proven as romantic companions and members of the family. “Muslim women are submissive and stereotyped,” the report discovered. “Muslim women in secondary roles were predominantly supportive to the main and typically male protagonist in the film and/or presented as their potential romantic partners. Stories of Muslim women are still undermined by a focus on their desirability to potential romantic partners, or by character portrayals centered on meek and submissive personalities. The exclusion and minimization of Muslim women in top movies is even more egregious when considering the many Muslim women who have made and continued to make contributions to public life, alongside the various traits and talents of Muslim women off-screen.”
The report additionally discovered that youthful audiences will discover only a few younger Muslim characters with whom to determine. “The erasure of Muslim characters is particularly notable in animation, where not one of the (23) animated movies we examined featured a Muslim character,” stated Dr. Stacy L. Smith, founding father of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. “Paired with the finding that only seven Muslim characters were children, popular movies send a strong message to children that Muslims do not belong and are not worthy of inclusion in storytelling. Is this the lesson we want young viewers to learn about themselves or others: that if you are Muslim it is acceptable to be erased?”
Muslim LGBTQ characters, and people with disabilities, had been much more invisible. According to the report, just one Muslim character portrayed within the 200 movies recognized as LGBTQ, and there was only one Muslim character proven with a incapacity.
The report claims that “Muslims are the most racially and ethnically diverse religious group in the world,” although the followers of most of the world’s different religions are equally as numerous.
The survey examined the 100 top-grossing movies from the U.S., 63 movies from the U.Okay., 32 from Australia, and 5 from New Zealand. In the U.S. pattern, 51 of the talking roles (1.1%) went to Muslim characters, which is their identical proportion of the U.S. inhabitants. In the UK movies surveyed, Muslim characters additionally appeared in 1.1% of the talking roles, although Muslims make up 6.3% of the U.Okay.’s inhabitants. In the Australian movies sampled, 5.6% of the characters had been Muslim, who in 2016 made up 2.6% of its inhabitants. None of the New Zealand movies reviewed within the survey had any Muslim characters, in a rustic the place 1%-2% of the inhabitants identifies as Muslim. “Thus, in two countries, the U.K. and Australia, top films fail to reach proportional representation with the population,” the survey discovered.
Of the 144 Muslim characters throughout the 200 movies sampled, 66.7% had been Middle Eastern/North African, 20.8% had been Asian, 5.6% had been Black/African American, 4.2% had been white, and a couple of.8% had been multiracial/multiethnic. No Muslim characters had been Hispanic/Latino, American Indian/Alaska Native, or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.
A complete of 8,965 talking characters had been recognized throughout these 200 movies. Of these characters, 144 (1.6%) had been Muslim and eight,678 (98.4% ) weren’t Muslim – a ratio of 60.3 non-Muslim characters to each one Muslim character on display screen.
The report concluded that its evaluation of the 200 movies exhibits that “Muslim characters are rooted in times and places that promote the idea of the Muslim faith as ‘foreign’ or ‘other.’ While there was not one major Muslim character who appeared in a present-day U.S. setting, this perspective is not only true of U.S. films. Likewise, only a handful of Muslim characters appeared in a modern U.K. locale. Yet, Muslims in both the U.S. and U.K. are notable business owners, political leaders, and community members grappling with current challenges and joys. These experiences find little space in the top movies in our sample.”
Kashif Shaikh, co-founder and president of the Pillars Fund, stated that the examine “reveals the scope of the problem facing Muslims in entertainment, and the urgent need for solutions that increase the presence of Muslim voices in storytelling.” The fund’s Blueprint for Muslim Inclusion, he stated, “offers a direct response to these findings by providing a broad set of recommendations for film industry professionals. We’re excited to support the industry to take practical steps towards more nuanced portrayals that amplify Muslim voices, from sunsetting terror tropes and signing first look deals with Muslims, to including Muslims in diversity, equity, and inclusion programming.”
The Blueprint, the fund says, “Includes short, medium, and long-term solutions for change, concrete recommendations for everyone from production companies to drama schools, and a suite of practical resources and contacts to support everything from script screening to casting.”
The Pillars Fund says it has additionally partnered with Ahmed and his Left Handed Films on a brand new fellowship “to transform the cultural landscape by creating opportunities for Muslim storytellers.” The Pillars Artist Fellowship will deal with Muslim artists within the U.S. and the U.Okay. on the early phases of their careers, providing chosen fellows an award of $25,000 and profession growth assist to create a expertise pipeline that may assist shift on-screen illustration. Designed as a multi-year program, the fellowship will focus in its first 12 months on administrators and writers from movie and tv. In upcoming years, it’s going to develop to cowl storytellers from different disciplines, together with literature, music and the visible arts.
“Muslim communities are bursting with talent – it’s our duty and privilege to support these incredible artists and provide them the opportunity to tell their own stories,” stated Arij Mikati, the Pillars Fund’s managing director of tradition change. “Right now, a pathway to success doesn’t exist for many Muslim creatives. The Pillars Artist Fellowship addresses this by providing them the funds, connections, and high-support, high-challenge community needed to reach their greatest aspirations.”
“I know the industry has the imagination and the resources to fix this problem,” Ahmed stated. “Now it must show the will, and the Blueprint for Muslim Inclusion can offer a practical roadmap for change. The Fellowship also offers a meaningful way to intervene. Having a source of unrestricted funding for Muslim artists and storytellers will be game changing. Muslim communities in the U.S. and UK are amongst the most economically disadvantaged, and yet currently there’s nothing else out there like the Pillars Artist Fellowship which really invests and believes in the talent pipeline. Had I not received a scholarship and also a private donation, I wouldn’t have been able to attend drama school.”