ABC Family has permanently shelved plans to produce “Alice in Arabia,” the network announced Friday, just days after Arab and Islamic support groups complained that the script would contain Muslim stereotypes.
“The current conversation surrounding our pilot was not what we had envisioned and is certainly not conducive to the creative process, so we’ve decided not to move forward with this project,” an ABC Family spokesperson said, according to Variety.
The show’s plot was centered on an American teen held by Saudi relatives after her parents died.
Soon after ABC Family announced the project Monday, local chapters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee complained that the fictional show would rely heavily on Muslim stereotypes, such as misogyny, kidnappings and forced marriages.
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In a letter Wednesday to ABC executives, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s president, Samer Khalaf, wrote, according to BuzzFeed:
“By purchasing a pilot of the show, The Walt Disney Company, along with ABC Family, continue to unabashedly perpetuate harmful stereotypes, orientalism and Islamophobia… The imagery and depiction of the respective communities as kidnappers and oppressors of women, reinforces harmful stereotypical depictions of the communities as thieves, criminals, persons who engage in violent acts, captives and/or persecutors…
By purchasing the pilot, ABC Family has reinforced these damning views, and has shown the world that there is a market for hate and bigotry. ABC Family and the Walt Disney Company, as a major programming source for American children, adolescents, and families, possess immense influence on the American zeitgeist and next generation, and have a duty to exert that influence in a meaningful, positive way, not one that demonizes a people, a religion and a region.”
No one wants TV viewers to get the wrong impression.
But wait — did these groups even bother reading the script for the show’s pilot, or was their objection merely a knee-jerk reaction to the show’s basic plot and title?
Twitter user Mariam Watt did at least a little research, and tweeted this interesting tidbit from the script’s writer ex-U.S. soldier Brooke Eikmeier:
“I’m giving you a voice! Now please SHUT UP!” RT“@luckyfatima: #AliceInArabia writer knows all about Arabs/Muslims pic.twitter.com/WSWamJOrMS”
— Mariam Watt (@MariamWatt) March 18, 2014
This isn’t the first time Arab and Islamic support groups have exerted influence on the entertainment industry. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has flexed its muscles over scripts for shows like “Executive Decision,” “24,” “The Siege,” “True Lies,” “Rules of Engagement,” “Obsession,” “The Third Jihad,” “Jihad in America” and “The Sum of All Fears,” all over alleged anti-Muslim stereotypes. CAIR has also served as a consultant on such films as DreamWorks Animation’s “The Prince of Egypt,” according to Variety.
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