The trailer for a new Hollywood film titled Beirut was released this week, and Lebanese are already criticizing it as a "piece of trash".
Directed by Brad Anderson (The Machinist , 2004 and The Call, 2013) and starring Jon Hamm (Mad Men, 2007-2015), the film, which is set for release in April, is set in a fictional 1982, in the middle of Lebanon's civil war.
According to Bleecker Street, the company distributing the film, the plot centers around a top U.S. diplomat (Hamm), whose wife was killed in Lebanon in the 1970s.
"Ten years later, he gets called back to a war-torn Beirut by CIA operatives (Pike, Dean Norris) with a mission only he can accomplish."
Bleeker Street's CEO refers to the film as "the kind of adult thriller a smarthouse audience craves," referring to the production as "tense, personal and well-crafted."
But many Lebanese have already begun to take issue with the film's portrayal of their homeland and its recent history.
"This trailer is trash and the majority of it is not an accurate representation of Lebanon, Beirut, the civil war or Lebanese people," Rachelle Mehdi, a Lebanese-American graduate student studying public policy, wrote on Facebook. "F*** this entire film and fuck releasing it on the anniversary of the civil war."
"This film is so terribly removed from context and perpetuates the 'Arabs are savage terrorists' stereotype and bleeds Orientalism."
Well-known Lebanese blogger Najib Mitri, who writes at Blog Baladi, voiced skepticism about the film as well.
"I couldn’t identify anything Beirut-related in the trailer," he wrote.
"And I didn’t understand what they meant by this quote '2,000 years of revenge, vendetta, murder. Welcome to Beirut' during the trailer. What is that supposed to mean?"
Some have already decided to boycott the film
It wasn't even filmed in Lebanon with Lebanese actors
Commenters on the trailer are calling the film "rubbish" and "inaccurate"
It's very "misleading"
Many are just sick of the constant misrepresentations from Hollywood
Mehdi also shared the comments of a friend who said: "There is so much to be said about the Lebanese Civil War, particularly the 1982 Israeli invasion, but of course Hollywood chooses to center the narrative on a white westerner in a film starring American and Israeli actors."
"The plot is so unrelated to the context of the war that it could have taken place anywhere," the friend pointed out.
"What’s worse is the portrayal of Israel as some sort of passive actor in all of this when this was the beginning of its 18 year occupation of Lebanon. But it’s the Lebanese who are the problem."
Misrepresentations of the Middle East are nothing new
Of course, Hollywood misrepresentations of the Middle East and Arabs are nothing new. Last February, Iraqi-British actor and drag performer Amrou Al-Kadhi penned an op-ed for The Independent, pointing out that he had been asked to play a terrorist on screen some 30 times ... and he's only 26.
"Nearly zero Arab and Muslim identities are portrayed three-dimensionally on screen," Kadhi wrote.
Academics and lecturers have long pointed to this problem in Hollywood and Western productions.
The groundbreaking Lebanese-American researcher and academic Jack Shaheen, who died last year, published a book called Reel Bad Arabs in 2001, which analyzed nearly 1,000 films and documented how they portray Arabs and Muslims as brutal, heartless, uncivilized others bent on terrorizing civilized Westerners.
As Mehdi's friend shared with her: "When are western audiences going to get sick of the Arab/Muslim terrorist trope?"