The Theme of Terrorism in the Film “The Siege”

Media is an important tool that societies use to project their values, cultures, ideologies and opinions they hold on various issues in life. It is used to influence perception of people in a society regarding certain issue. Media has been used to shape people’s opinions, thoughts, beliefs and attitudes they hold towards others in the world. There is print and electronic media. The development of electronic media such as videos, TVs and internet, increased the use of media by groups of people in the society to portray positively their image so as to gain social power.
Human beings usually form social groups based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social economic class, etc, in competing for social power, superiority, social privileges and entitlement. People within a group usually discredit other groups by displaying them negatively through the media. This tends to influence negative attitude and perception of people towards such a group. Films and motion pictures media has been widely used in the global media industry lately as they attached emotions to their message.
Hollywood’s film/ entertainment industry has been used to promote negative images of Asians-Americans, Arabs, Muslims and Sikhs (Ahmed 68). In most of films produced in Hollywood U. S, they project Arabs and Muslims as people filled with hatred and contempt (). In the film “the siege” produced in 1998, the movie shows how Islamic terrorist cells plan and execute bombing in New York (The siege). This film shows how the U. S government, and American society at large, views world terrorism.

In the film movie, the theme of terrorism is presented, where Muslims suicide bombers blow up a New York bus, a movie theater, the headquarters of the FBI counterterrorism task force and targets a school. Hundreds of citizens are killed in the attack (Ibid). Like in the material in aftermath of September 11, 2001 New York attack, there is the theme of terrorism. In the class material on September 11 attack, world trading center in New York (“Twins tower”) was blown up by terrorists.
There is theme of racial stereotype in class material, and also in “The siege”. The government immediate response to the terrorist attack was to mount police scrutiny of foreigners ‘perceived to be terrorists’ (Akram 57). South Asians, Arabs and Muslims were targeted, where they were pulled of their cars, beaten and some shot at. This clearly illustrated racial biasness against Asian-Americans, Arab and Muslims. It was noted that members belonging to Sikh American community also suffered because they dress like Arabs (Ibid 58).
The racial prejudice extends to the society, where after the Sept 11 attack, member of Asian-American communities faced racial hate crimes from the white majorities. The reported abuses of civil liberties directed to the Arabs, Muslims, Sikhs, and Asians American did not get attention of the authorities. In dead, the government ordered New York police department to assist in vetting 5,000 immigrants of South Asia and Muslims decent (ASS Class Notes). Hate violence is another theme of both the film “siege” and class material.
In the class materials, the theme is elaborated in events where members of Asian-American community, Muslims and Arabs are beaten, their businesses vandalized and mosques and temples attacked by the other communities, particularly whites as they perceive them as their enemies (Akram 62). There is also racially-motivated hate violence directed to Arabs and Muslims by police forces. Civil injustices is another theme in the class material and also is present in the film the “The siege”. South Asians, Arabs and Muslims soon after the 9/11 attack were pulled out of their cars, beaten, arrested and shot at (The Siege).
Arab student attending school in New York City public schools are mobbed with rocks by their fellow non-Muslims, non-Arab students (ASS Class Notes). In Brooklyn and Queens Islands, homes of Muslims, South Asians and Arabs are searched and personal properties confisticated. All these are against their civil liberties and right (Ibid). The film “The siege” is an action thriller that was written by Lawrence Wright. Distributed by 20th century fox, the film was produced by Lynda Obst. Born on April 14, 1950 in New York, Lynda is an established film editor and producer (The Siege).
She was former editor of the New York Times. With partnership with Debra Hill in 1986, they produced “Adventures in babysitting”, “Heartbreak hotel” and “The fisher king” among others. A graduate of Ponoma college in Claremont, CA, Lynda her also produced other major films like “One fine day”, “Contact”, and “Someone like you”, in early 1990. The intended audience of the film “The siege” is the U. S government and its citizen. The film was a wake up call to the security forces to increase vigilance from a possible terrorist attacks in the homeland, following series of attacks in U.
S foreign facilities in early 1990 (The Siege). Also the film addresses the U. S citizens and society, on how the Muslim radicalists hate the nation; they are prime target of the terrorist groups and determined to destroy them. Terrorism is one of the themes of “The siege”. The film opens with scenes of bombed U. S marine base in Saudi Arabia by terrorists (The Siege). In retaliation, the U. S Army military task force captures an Iraq cleric (Ibid). This precipitates aggression by terrorist cells, each made up of not more than three members, launch attack after another in New York.
They bomb a bus killing everybody on board they also a Broadway theater, headquarters of the FBI counterterrorism task force, killing hundreds of citizens. Racial stereo type and violence is another theme of the film. The terrorists in the terror cell are Muslim-Arabs (The Siege). This shows how the U. S society perceives Muslims and Arabs (Akram 54). After the New York attacks, the president declares martial law and the U. S army occupies and seal off Brooklyn to find remaining terrorist (The Siege). Arabs and Muslims youths are arrested and detained. These suspects are tortured. Civil injustice is another theme in the film.
Use of army to roundup area Arab young males is against their civil liberty. There is also human right abuses, an Arabs who was arrested by FBI was later captured, tortured and killed by U. S army major general Devereaux (The Siege). There is theme of distrust. After the terrorist attacks, the FBI, CIA, U. S Army and NYPD were involved in keeping order and ensuring security of all. Anthony Hubbard (Denzel Washington) leads a joint FBI/NYPD force . He works with Sharon Bridges (Annette), who first introduces herself as Elise Kraft, hiding her real name and her close connection with Arab terrorists.
Despite the Hubbard effort to contain the situation without necessary implementing the martial law, General Devereaux implements martial law without consultation (The Siege). The story in the film takes place in Brooklyn, New York City, U. S. A (The siege). The film was produced before the September 11, 2001 attack in 1998. During these periods, Muslims radicalists and terrorist network, Alqaeda had attacked U. S embassy in Kenya and Tanzania. Therefore the Americans were wary of Islamic groups who were out fiercely to fight “Zionism”.
During this time period, America beliefs and attitudes towards Muslims were negative, as they perceived them as terrorist. The cast in the film was planned excellently, Denzel Washington who acted as Anthony Hubbard (the FBI chief) though a black, gave and excellent performance. Major General William Devereaux (Bruce Willis) fitted well in the character as physique and tough-guy appearance plays well. The use of Arabs to represent the Muslim terrorists clicked with the themes, though it made the film to be viewed as anti-Muslims (Ahmed 73).
The film, like the class works on aftermath of Sep 11 attack, have the racial stereotype, hate violence and civil injustices themes. Like in the class material, there are terrorism activities that result in death of many citizens. Also Arabs and Muslims are targeted in fight against terrorism. The civil rights and sometimes fundamental rights are abused by the authorities. This story in the film influences the way the audiences perceives Asian-Americans. The Asian Americans are portrayed as hostile terrorists (Ahmed 69). The siege did poorly in the U. S box-office after it was released in 1998.
This was mainly because Arab-American Organizations protested on it, critizing it as stereotyping Muslims as Terrorists. A change in script and casts may have changed this and made it hit more. The producer of the film could have changed characters in the terrorist cells and replace them with white actors to represent U. S white conspirators in the U. S. In the script, after the New York Attacks, instead of New Yorkers demonstrating against the occupation of Armies and harassment of the Arab youths, there could be race violence against Arabs and Muslims neighbors by non- Muslims especially the whites.
This would give it a real touch of feelings in the U. S society on this issue and also balance it so that it does not seem to be demonizing Islamic faith and the followers. Work Cited Ahmed, Akbar S. “Hello, Hollywood: your images affect Muslims everywhere. ” (The West and Islam) New Perspectives Quarterly, spring 2002 v19 i2 p 63-75 Akram, Susan M. “The aftermath of September 11, 2001: The targeting of Arabs and Muslims in America. ” Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ) (Spring-Summer 2002): 45-68 ASS Class Notes Denzel Washington, Annette Bening, Bruce Willis, Perf. The Siege. Dir Edward Zwick. 20th Century Fox. Nov 1998.

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