Lebanese slam upcoming 'orientalist, trashy' Hollywood film 'Beirut'

Lebanese slam upcoming 'orientalist, trashy' Hollywood film 'Beirut'
Beirut is an upcoming fictional film set in 1982 Lebanon, a time of the country’s civil war. But the Lebanese are not happy about the Hollywood depiction.

3 min read
14 Jan, 2018
The film is due to be released in April [Beirut/Trailer]
A new Hollywood film set to be released in April has caused a stir online for its "Orientalist" view of Lebanon and Arabs in general.

Beirut is directed by Brad Anderson and starring Jon Hamm and set in 1982 Lebanon – a time of the country's civil war. 

The movie sees a top US diplomat, whose wife was killed in Lebanon years earlier, summoned for a new mission in Beirut after one of his friends is taken hostage by an apparent Islamist militant group, obviously.

"Ten years later, he gets called back to a war-torn Beirut by CIA operatives (Pike, Dean Norris) with a mission only he can accomplish," according to Bleecker Street, the company distributing the film.

The trailer, which was shared worldwide on Thursday, has already garnered more than 2.5 million views – but thousands took to social media to denounce the film.

"This trailer is trash and the majority of it is not an accurate representation of Lebanon, Beirut, the civil war or Lebanese people," Rachelle Mehdi, a Lebanese-American graduate student studying public policy, wrote on Facebook.

"F*** this entire film and fuck releasing it on the anniversary of the civil war."

"This film is so terribly removed from context and perpetuates the 'Arabs are savage terrorists' stereotype and bleeds Orientalism," she added.

Meanwhile, popular Lebanese Blogger Najib Mitri also slammed the film, suggesting he "could not identify anything Beirut-related in the trailer". 

"And I didn't understand what they meant by this quote '2,000 years of revenge, vendetta, murder. 'Welcome to Beirut' during the trailer. What is that supposed to mean?"

Other social media users questioned the decision to centre the plot on a westerner despite it being set in Beirut, during the time of the civil war.

"There is so much to be said about the Lebanese Civil War, particularly the 1982 Israeli invasion, but of course Hollywood chooses to centre the narrative on a white Westerner in a film starring American and Israeli actors," a Facebook user said, according to Mehdi.

"The plot is so unrelated to the context of the war that it could have taken place anywhere," the user added.

"What's worse is the portrayal of Israel as some sort of passive actor in all of this when this was the beginning of its 18 year occupation of Lebanon. But it's the Lebanese who are the problem."

But after years of unfair portrayal of Arabs in Hollywood, some have just had enough, calling for a full-on boycott of the film.

Sounds like a great idea, Haidar.