Misrepresenting Arab cultures in Western media has somehow been normalized in the past couple of decades.
As the late Lebanese-American writer and lecturer Jack Shaheen once said, "in mainstream media, Arabs are perceived in the form of billionaires, bombers, belly dancers, and boisterous bargainers".
Here are just a few examples of these shadowing B's:
1. Busta Rhymes, Arab Money (2009)
In Busta Rhymes' song titled Arab Money, he immediately starts off with an oriental beat located in the desert. When the hook enters, the word "Arab" is pronounced with an accent, emphasizing on the 'R' to make it sound authentic.
The lyrics, "I got Middle East women and Middle East bread, I got oil well money in the desert playing golf", "La ilaha illa Allah", and "While I make you bow down and make Salaat like a Muslim", all make way to an abundance of stereotypes, some more offensive than others.
2. Katy Perry, Dark Horse (2014)
Katy Perry's Dark Horse appropriated ancient Egyptian symbols and images, belittling the culture in under four minutes.
Not only does the song not relate to the video, it also plays on the typical orientalist views of Egyptians - Arabs basically - being uncivilized, traditional, and undeveloped.
3. Cardi B, Bodak Yellow (2017)
As expected, when filming in an Arab country, deserts, camels, pet jaguars, diamonds, and colorful niqabs are all there is to show...
Arabs are fetishized and depicted as rich and exotic... especially in the music and film industries. This reduces a long line of Arab heritage into a couple of painful clichés.
4. M.I.A., Bad girls (2012)
The British-Tamilan artist M.I.A. chose Morocco for her "Bad Girls" video, in which thawb and keffieh-wearing men can be seen drifting around the dessert.
The video glamorizes life in war-torn areas, with Arabic writings displayed on dusty brick walls with an oriental beat blasting off in the background.
5. Sex and the City 2 (2010)
In the movie Sex and the City 2, the main characters travel to Abu Dhabi to experience a lavish trip offered by a billionaire Sheikh, interested in a PR campaign for his business, which is executed by one of the lead actresses.
The film depicts both the exaggerated Arab money belief as well as the belly dancers as sexual and exotic objects... and of course, plenty of desert. What is also highlighted is the misconception that Arab women are oppressed and can only be niqab-wearing housewives.
6. Netflix, GLOW (2017)
Netflix's original series GLOW revolves around an entertainment wrestling team of women... and it thrives on racial stereotypes.
The characters are all based on age-old stereotypes, such as the Asian woman taking the name "Fortune Cookie", or the Indian playing "Beirut", a terrorist, gun-flaunting character who promises to "destroy your American way of living".
GLOW’s coked-up producer, Sebastian (Chris Lowell), explains "It’s just what I and the entire world see with our eyes."
7. Iron Man 3 (2013)
Those who have watched the movie may recall the scene that shows the character Iron Patriot going to Pakistan on a mission "freeing" oppressed, niqab-wearing Muslim women from a sweatshop.
This scene reinforces how the West portrays the Arab world and how the expression "Arab women" is immediately linked to the word "oppression".
The women in the sweatshop were wearing the niqab in a room full of women which usually doesn't happen unless they are in public.