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Tramps vs. Sweethearts: Changing Images of Arab and American Women in Hollywood Films

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The portrayal of Arab women in Hollywood from the silent movies to today stands in sharp contrast to the portrayal of American women over the same time period and can be defined by off screen politics. By examining important American films over nearly 100 years, this article describes Arab and American women characters through five political-historical phases of US international relations that define their Hollywood images: 1) pre-World War II, 2) from World War II to the 1960s, 3) the 1970s, 4) the 1980s to 11 September 2001 and 5) post-9/11. The analysis reveals a variety of archetypes for both Arab and American women, but the main finding suggests a limited role for American women and the near absence of Arab women in Hollywood movies. Independent filmmakers and upcoming Arab-American movie makers may yet be able to fill this void.


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