+
More

Ask yourself these 5 questions when you see a Muslim character in a movie.

It's no secret that Hollywood has a diversity and representation problem.

For years, Hollywood has produced television shows and movies that often portray Muslims, South Asians, and Middle Eastern people with harmful stereotypes.

According to Jack Shaheen, a writer focusing on Arab representation in cinema, Muslim and Arab characters are often confined to three archetypes. He called them "the three B's": bombers, billionaires, and belly dancers. And sometimes, in addition to swinging their hips as belly dancers, some of the women are depicted as living under oppression in black abayas and burqas.


It's quite easy to find shows that fit the bill. The grand majority of Muslim characters in "Homeland" are either suicide bombers or Arab billionaires. Even in beloved children's movies, like "Aladdin," the characters are based in a "faraway place / Where the caravan camels roam / Where they cut off your ear / If they don't like your face / It's barbaric, but hey, it's home!"

But it's time to change the outdated and redundant negative typecasting of Muslim and Middle Eastern characters.

A new test has been introduced to measure how Muslims and Arabs are portrayed in television and film.

The Riz Test is a concept formed by a small group of film buffs that were inspired by a speech that Riz Ahmed, known for "The Night Of," made to the U.K. Parliament about the Bechdel test and media representation.

"We're passionate film buffs but we're tired of the same old stereotypes and tropes being perpetuated in Films and TV shows," the group wrote in a tweet.

Like the Bechdel test, which measures how women are portrayed in fiction, The Riz Test has a quite simple criteria.

The Riz Test asks the viewer to consider five questions if their film or show includes one identifiable Muslim character:

  1. Talking about, the victim of, or the perpetrator of Islamist terrorism?
  2. Presented as irrationally angry?
  3. Presented as superstitious, culturally backwards, or anti-modern?
  4. Presented as a threat to a Western way of life?
  5. If the character is male, is he presented as misogynistic? If female, is she presented as oppressed by her male counterparts?

There have been some great improvements in recent years. A few television shows have featured Muslim characters that don't fall into the traps of The Riz Test, such as "The Bold Type's" Adena El Amin character and "Queer Eye's" Tan France.

It's important now, more than ever, to include accurate representation and portrayal of Muslims and Arabs on the big screen.

Hollywood is often a reflection of the society that we live in, and sometimes, it serves as an introduction to the unknown.

In the United States in 2017, Muslims only made up 1.1% of the general population, and not a lot of Americans have ever befriended a Muslim in real life. This means that most of the understanding Americans have about Islam, Muslims, Arabs and their society often come from what they see on television, films, and the news cycle. And with 80% of the media coverage on Islam and Muslims being negative, it's no wonder there's still a lot of anti-Muslim sentiment and misunderstanding across the country.

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

But accurate portrayals isn't just about improving the way Americans view Muslims; it's also about benefiting our society as a whole.

As Ahmed said in his Parliament speech, "If we fail to represent, I think we're in danger of losing out in three ways, the three E's: (1) We're going to lose people to extremism, (2) we're going to lose out on an expansive idea of who we are as individuals and as a community, and (3) we're going to really lose out on the economic benefits that proper representation can bring to our economy."

In other words, the time is now for Hollywood to generate diverse and accurate portrayals of Muslims and Arabs on the big screen.

You can watch Riz Ahmed's speech below:

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

Oregon utilizes teen volunteers to run their YouthLine teen crisis hotline

“Each volunteer gets more than 60 hours of training, and master’s level supervisors are constantly on standby in the room.”

Oregon utilizes teen volunteers to man YouthLine teen crisis hotline

Editor's Note: If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

Mental health is a top-of-mind issue for a lot of people. Thanks to social media and people being more open about their struggles, the stigma surrounding seeking mental health treatment appears to be diminishing. But after the social and emotional interruption of teens due the pandemic, the mental health crises among adolescents seem to have jumped to record numbers.

PBS reports that Oregon is "ranked as the worst state for youth mental illness and access to care." But they're attempting to do something about it with a program that trains teenagers to answer crisis calls from other teens. They aren't alone though, as there's a master's level supervisor at the ready to jump in if the call requires a mental health professional.

The calls coming into the Oregon YouthLine can vary drastically, anywhere from relationship problems to family struggles, all the way to thoughts of self-harm and suicide. Teens manning the phones are provided with 60 hours of training and are taught to recognize when the call needs to be taken over by the adult supervisor.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Buffy Sainte-Marie shares what led to her openly breastfeeding on 'Sesame Street' in 1977

The way she explained to Big Bird what she was doing is still an all-time great example.

"Sesame Street" taught kids about life in addition to letters and numbers.

In 1977, singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie did something revolutionary: She fed her baby on Sesame Street.

The Indigenous Canadian-Ameican singer-songwriter wasn't doing anything millions of other mothers hadn't done—she was simply feeding her baby. But the fact that she was breastfeeding him was significant since breastfeeding in the United States hit an all-time low in 1971 and was just starting to make a comeback. The fact that she did it openly on a children's television program was even more notable, since "What if children see?" has been a key pearl clutch for people who criticize breastfeeding in public.

But the most remarkable thing about the "Sesame Street" segment was the lovely interchange between Big Bird and Sainte-Marie when he asked her what she was doing.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Mom shares her brutal experience with 'hyperemesis gravidarum' and other moms can relate

Hyperemesis gravidarum is a severe case of morning sickness that can last up until the baby is born and might require medical attention.

@emilyboazman/TikTok

Hyperemesis gravidarum isn't as common as regular morning sickness, but it's much more severe.

Morning sickness is one of the most commonly known and most joked about pregnancy symptoms, second only to peculiar food cravings. While unpleasant, it can often be alleviated to a certain extent with plain foods, plenty of fluids, maybe some ginger—your typical nausea remedies. And usually, it clears up on its own by the 20-week mark. Usually.

But sometimes, it doesn’t. Sometimes moms experience stomach sickness and vomiting, right up until the baby is born, on a much more severe level.

Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), isn’t as widely talked about as regular morning sickness, but those who go through it are likely to never forget it. Persistent, extreme nausea and vomiting lead to other symptoms like dehydration, fainting, low blood pressure and even jaundice, to name a few.

Emily Boazman, a mom who had HG while pregnant with her third child, showed just how big of an impact it can make in a viral TikTok.

Keep ReadingShow less

The cast of TLC's "Sister Wives."

Dating is hard for just about anyone. But it gets harder as people age because the dating pool shrinks and older people are more selective. Plus, changes in dating trends, online etiquette and fashion can complicate things as well.

“Sister Wives” star Christine Brown is back in the dating pool after ending her “spiritual union” with polygamist Kody Brown and she needs a little help to get back in the swing of things. Christine and Kody were together for more than 25 years and she shared him with three other women, Janelle, Meri and Robyn.

Janelle and Meri have recently announced they’ve separated from Kody. Christine publicly admitted that things were over with Kody in November 2021.

Keep ReadingShow less

Finally, someone explains why we all need subtitles

It seems everyone needs subtitles nowadays in order to "hear" the television. This is something that has become more common over the past decade and it's caused people to question if their hearing is going bad or if perhaps actors have gotten lazy with enunciation.

So if you've been wondering if it's just you who needs subtitles in order to watch the latest marathon-worthy show, worry no more. Vox video producer Edward Vega interviewed dialogue editor Austin Olivia Kendrick to get to the bottom of why we can't seem to make out what the actors are saying anymore. It turns out it's technology's fault, and to get to how we got here, Vega and Kendrick took us back in time.

They first explained that way back when movies were first moving from silent film to spoken dialogue, actors had to enunciate and project loudly while speaking directly into a large microphone. If they spoke and moved like actors do today, it would sound almost as if someone were giving a drive-by soliloquy while circling the block. You'd only hear every other sentence or two.

Keep ReadingShow less