Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Religious Studies Dept.


Nikky-Guninder K. Singh

Second Advisor

David J. Strohl


I investigate the depictions of Muslims in Hollywood film. Have the Muslim protagonists been reduced to antagonists? Are the depictions historically and culturally relevant? How can films psychologically impact viewers? What kinds of stereotypes pervade even the most innocuous of films? What context to these stereotypes rise out of? What impact do Hollywood images of Muslims have on the ideas, actions, and politics of the American public? How do non-Hollywood films portray Muslims, and what impact do these films have on viewers? This paper finds that Hollywood’s negative portrayal of Muslims is not an accident. It reflects the geopolitical atmosphere of the nation at the time. It is no coincidence that terrorist-as-villain films became increasingly violent after 9/11. Hollywood films are deliberate in their perpetuation of a system that privileges non-Muslim Americans over Muslim Americans. These repeated images of Muslims as evil, backwards, dirty, and more flash before viewers’ eyes over and over again until we no longer realize that we are being trained to hate. I feel that in the era of the Muslim ban, it is important now more than ever that we critically reflect on the images being presented to us. Additionally, we must encourage the production and viewing of films that work to positively depict Muslims and dispel negative stereotypes. Based on my research, this can be achieved most successfully by giving women, people of color, and Muslims themselves the opportunity to direct such films.


Islam, Muslims, Hollywood, Film, Islam and Hollywood, Muslims and Hollywood