Guest writer Elaine Gowie-Fleischer
A closer look at how people are portrayed in films.
In a speech to the UK’s House of Commons in March 2017, actor and rapper Riz Ahmed, a Muslim, delivered a message about the importance of diversity and representation in the media:
What people are looking for is a message that they belong. Every time you see yourself it’s a message that you matter, that you’re part of the national story.
But when it comes to the “national story”, the one about Muslims is pretty grim. The pressing issue of Islamophobia is both fuelled and defined by the misrepresentation and stereotyping of Muslims in the media. Instead of challenging the images of the “oppressed” Muslim woman, or the violent Middle Eastern man that propagate our media, mainstream films often reinforce them. But films are also platforms with the potential to create change through alternative narratives. Our visual culture can play a crucial role in the way we understand the world. So the question is, what do our visual platforms tell us about our cultural perceptions of Muslims? In other words, how are Muslims represented in our stories? Source; The conversation
Classroom activities before watching the movie
- Watch the video below
- Read about the Riz test here.
Riz Ahmed´s 2017 speech to the House of Commons on diversity on the screen.
THE RIZ TEST…
Taking inspiration from Riz Ahmed’s 2017 speech in the House of Commons on diversity on screen, the Riz Test is five criteria to measure how Muslims are portrayed on Film and TV.
If the film/show stars at least one character who is identifiably Muslim (by ethnicity, language or clothing) – is the character…
- Talking about, the victim of, or the perpetrator of terrorism?
- Presented as irrationally angry?
- Presented as superstitious, culturally backwards or anti-modern?
- Presented as a threat to a Western way of life?
- If the character is male, is he presented as misogynistic? or if female, is she presented as oppressed by her male counterparts?
If the answer for any of the above is Yes, then the Film/ TV Show fails the test. Source: riztest
Watch the movie “Ali’s Wedding” on Netflix
Classroom activities after watching the movie
- Give examples from the film of ways it is not being culturally sensitive.
- Give examples from the film of ways it is being culturally sensitive.
- After watching the film and reflecting on the 5 criteria write down why films should avoid stereotypes.
- Read the article here and give examples of the Riz test in at least two more films or tv series.