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Iraqi stereotypes in American culture: the case of video games and films

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This work investigates the nature of Iraqi stereotypes prevalent in American video games and films in particular and the reasons behind the existence of such negative perceptions of Iraqis in the American popular culture in general. The study firstly traces the history of the political relations between the two countries and points out the periods of tension mainly caused by the American staunch support of Israel and the well-known SovietIraqi alliance. Then it shows when and how the American popular perception of Iraq and Iraqis has started changing due to the diplomatic tensions between America and Iraq. In other words, the US official policies direct, and in some cases condition, the popular beliefs of a whole generation; consequently, these newly formed perceptions can have harmful effects on the American soldiers and security guards on the ground because they become desensitized, and they start viewing the others, and in this case the Iraqis, as naturally born villains who deserve to die. Hence, American video games and films that continuously present negative images and notions of Iraqis, partly and presently have a role in the unfortunate events like killing innocent bystanders that occur from time to time in Iraq.

Keywords: American popular culture; American propaganda; Gulf War; Iraqi stereotypes; films; video games

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Sohar University.

Publication date: October 24, 2008

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  • The International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies is a new peer-reviewed, tri- annual, academic publication devoted to the study of modern Iraq. In recognition of Iraq's increasingly important position on the world stage, the time is right for a new journal dedicated to scholarly engagement with the country.
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