The Bible series which premiered last March on the History Channel is just another example of how Hollywood often distorts reality in such ways to reinforce negative stereotypes about Arabs, Muslims and people of color in general. In the series, and its film version, Son of God Jesus was portrayed by a blonde, fair-skinned white man; Satan, however, was portrayed by a dark, complicated Arab/Moroccan actor Mehdi Ouazanni.
While many American commentators including Glenn Beck and others claimed that the "Satan" character resembled president Barack Obama, the History Channel -- and producers Roma Downy and Mark Burnett -- told The Hollywood Reporter that it was never their intention to make Satan looks like the president. Downey said in March:
Both Mark and I have nothing but respect and love [for] our president, who is a fellow Christian. False statements such as these are just designed as a foolish distraction to try and discredit the beauty of the story of The Bible.
No one in the American mainstream media however, raised the issue as to why the Jesus character was portrayed by a fair-skinned, blonde, white man while Satan looked like an African or Arab. We know that the historic Jesus was not a European or fair-skinned or a blonde man that Hollywood often makes him to be. Instead, he was a Semite who lived in Palestine like others who lived in the entire Levant region. The other irony is why the History Channel, which is supposed to care about the accuracy of history in its programming, chose to air a series that made a critical and fundamental error in its two main characters.
Although the Satan character will not make it in the movie Son of God, the issue remains that Hollywood is still the main driver of negative stereotypes that shows the white man as righteous and good, while Arabs, Muslims or the people of color are the evil ones. And as if to drive home this very point, Hollywood went as far as making Arabs the embodiment of Satan himself.
Ali Younes is the Editor of the Arab Daily News and can be reached at : Aliyounes@theArabdailynews.com, and on twitter @clearali