In this study we focus on the film The Siege (1998), as an illustration of how mediated representations of terrorism serve as a vehicle for Orientalist discourse. This text serves as a specific location of struggle and negotiation over interpretations of media characterizations of Arabs, Arab Americans, Muslims, and Islam. First, we focus on how the film represents these communities and the religion textually. Second, we consider news discourse offering critiques of the film by protesting organizations, and the defenses articulated by some of the film's makers. Third, we explore the interpretations of young U.S. viewers as they resonate with competing facets of the text and with public perspectives. Despite the varied possibilities within the text, these interpretations privileged rather than challenged an underlying Orientalist ideology. Still, news media did acknowledge the contestation of dominant discourse, a potential step toward improved portrayals.
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