University of Missouri

Jack Shaheen dies; scholar persuaded Disney to alter 'Aladdin' as he fought Hollywood's racial stereotypes

Jack Shaheen dies; scholar persuaded Disney to alter 'Aladdin' as he fought Hollywood's racial stereotypes

Jack Shaheen, a prominent writer, scholar and activist who persistently — though diplomatically — challenged negative stereotypes of Arabs in film and television, has died at age 81.

Shaheen, who died Sunday in South Carolina after battling cancer, took on studio executives, offered counsel to actors and directors and lectured around in the world in his relentless quest to persuade Hollywood to move beyond the cinematic image of Arabs as just “billionaires, bombers and belly dancers.”

“There is no escaping the Arab stereotype,” Shaheen wrote in the preface to his 2001 book “Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People,” before digging into what he said was the unrelenting...

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