The Last Minstrel Show? Racial Profiling, the War on Terrorism and the Mass Media

44 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2008

Date Written: December 7, 2008


This Article examines and critiques media portraits of the Middle East and Middle-Eastern Americans by tracing the alarming impact of this last minstrel show on public policy and the war on terrorism The Article begins by analyzing racial profiling's problematic discourse of legitimation, deracinating its unsound roots and charting the intricate relationship between representation and reality in the narration of the Middle-Eastern threat, especially after 9/11. The Article then examines the instrumental role of the mass media in both ossifying and perpetuating stereotypes that have rationalized policies targeting individuals of Middle-Eastern descent. Drawing on specific examples from the movies, television, music, publishing and advertising, the Article highlights the accretive impact of entertainment content on the epistemology of fear and the grave and under appreciated toll of such representations on the Middle-Eastern American community. Finally, the Article also calls for some modest but concrete reforms in the entertainment industry as a starting point for providing more balanced depictions of the Middle East and of Middle-Eastern Americans.

Keywords: film, television, entertainment industry, Hollywood, cultivation theory, mass media, racial profiling, war on terrorism, 9/11, Middle Eastern Americans, Middle East, law and culture, object and representation

Suggested Citation

Tehranian, John, The Last Minstrel Show? Racial Profiling, the War on Terrorism and the Mass Media (December 7, 2008). Connecticut Law Review, Vol. 41, No. 3, 2009. Available at SSRN:

John Tehranian (Contact Author)

Southwestern Law School ( email )

3050 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010
United States

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