Alice and Kev: The Story of a Homeless Family

Christine:
I am currently reading this one blog which is quite interesting and it is made using the new game, Sims 3. Basically, for those of you who don’t know, the Sims 3 is a game where you make a family and you make them a house and you control their life. You get to pick the traits of the Sims, you get to choose their clothing, and you also get to pick which job they are employed in. If you would like to know more about this game, I suggest you visit: www.sims3.com

The basic premise is that the author of the blog took two people, gave them not very good traits such as bad luck or inappropriateness, and plunked them into a town. He also had them throw away all of their money, so they are homeless. It’s actually a pretty compelling commentary on the basic problems homeless people face as well: things others can take for granted, like a good night’s sleep in a bed, and showering.
Kev is the insane father of Alice, the shy bookworm. When you create a person in The Sims 3, you can give them personality traits that determine their behaviour. Kev is mean-spirited, quick to anger, and inappropriate. He also dislikes children, and he’s insane. Alice, however, is a shy, clumsy bookworm and the only friend she has in her life, like it said in the beginning of the story, is her teddy bear.

Alice and Kev live on an empty abandoned park with two park benches to sleep on. With no money, they cannot buy food so the story is about them trying to survive by, for example, stealing apples from a neighbor’s garden or having a quick meal and a friend’s house. One of may favorite parts of the story is when Alice gets a part time job and her and her father finally have some money. However, Alice donates all the money she earns to charity. One passage that came after Alice donated all her money and really made me think was: “You might think that Alice has the worst life in the world, but she doesn’t believe that’s true. She will turn down the chance to improve her life in order to give others the opportunity to improve theirs. What does it mean when a character you’ve created makes you re-examine your own life through their astonishing selflessness?”

I recommend that everyone reading this blog should read the story of Alice and Kev because it really makes you think about your own life. Even though the characters are computerized, these characters really make you compare your life to those who are less fortunate. This blog connects to the problems in the Middle East, especially in the West Bank because there are a lot of homeless people there. If you would like to take a look at this blog, the address is: http://aliceandkev.wordpress.com/

*Edublogs is very confusing now and I know know how to post pictures now so the post looks really boring. When I find out how to add pictures and stuff, I’ll add them.

The Middle East Mourns For Michael Jackson

Christine:

 

Recently, a beloved singer and dancer known as ‘The King of Pop’ passed away. The whole world was mourning on June 25, 2009, the day Michael Jackson collapsed and died. Michael Jackson was a hero to many people and he inspired countless singers and dancers as well. After his death, there were thousands of people in the Middle East who mourned for him as well. There were Egyptian musicians who hailed him as an inspiration as well. Michael Jackson was very famous in the Arab world because he was one of the first western singers to break the cultural barrier between Westerners and Arabs. Some also made a connection because there were rumors that Michael Jackson converted to Islam and that boosted his popularity in the Middle East. Many singers from the Middle East said that they were inspired to get into the entertainment business because of Michael Jackson.

On that sad day, there were hundreds of people who lit candles and sang along to his songs. A few attempted to do Michael Jackson’s famous moonwalk. It was a sad day for the Middle East, but it was also a day of celebrating Michael Jackson’s life and his songs. There was one lawyer from the Middle East who helped Michael Jackson and he said that he saw mothers at the lobby of his hotel who brought their children to introduce them to Michael Jackson. That just shows how many generations will remember his music. I know that Michael Jackson will be remember forever as the ‘King of Pop’.

RIP Michael Jackson.

Salutations

HOLA AMIGOS

this is joyce

Summer has arrived but we would strongly agree on keeping our blog updated throughout the vacation and onwards. Even though we have already moved up from eighth grade but we believe that the learning should not end.

Have a Great Summer

Chrikajo

Stereotypes of Arabs Illustrated in Movies

Christine:

Introduction:

“If it bleeds, it leads.”

The old cliché above, ‘if it bleeds it leads’, basically means that the media loves violence and television, radio, and films will have much higher ratings if they talk about, for example, a bunch of civilians getting murdered rather than something pleasant. The cliché was used when Jack Shaheen, an author of a book called ‘How Hollywood Vilifies a People’, was talking in an interview. The book is about all the stereotypes of Arabs that Hollywood has put together in hundreds of films. Jack Shaheen used that cliché to talk about how the media has the power to change what people perceive about different cultural groups, such as Arabs. Because of my interest in movies, while learning about the Middle East, I discovered that Hollywood was vilifying Arabs in countless movies. One example of that is the movie ‘Aladdin’. I kept wondering why Disney would put such rude stereotypes in a popular children’s movie that I have watched countless times when I was younger. So, I decided to research some more and I had a question that I could not fully answer: what are some common stereotypes of Arabs/Middle Easterners in the media and why do people believe those stereotypes? Maybe Jack Shaheen was right about how influential the media is but I kept asking myself, why are people so gullible to believe in those false themes in movies? I think people are extremely gullible when watching the television or reading the news because there have been other numerous problems connecting to the media. One example is that the media has influenced countless teenagers to become anorexic or start smoking and drinking. It is almost like we get spellbind as we stare at a television. Before we come to the conclusion that all Arabs are terrorists or villains, we have to fully understand the culture of the Middle East so our stereotypes can become true fact.

Conclusion:

These two words: Muslims and Arabs have commonly become synonymous with the word “terrorist” in many people’s minds. Because of the way Hollywood vilifies Arabs and Muslims, many people across the world are influenced to perceive Arabs as pitiless villains, vindictive terrorists, brainless buffoons, and incompetent workers. While I was researching my topic, I came up with the following 5 subtopics: stereotypes in the media, why people believe those stereotypes, effects of stereotyping in the media, viewpoints, and solutions. Firstly, I learned that in hundreds of Hollywood movies, Arabs are consistently depicted as villains or terrorists. Rarely are Arabs illustrated as the ‘good guys’ who save the day. The themes of most movies are constantly about terrorists killing innocent western hostages, Arabs abusing guiltless civilians, Arabs hijacking airliners, etc. Also, in most movies, women are always stereotyped as either slaves or seductive belly dancers. However, recently, Middle Eastern women have also been stereotyped as terrorists as well. In general, people perceive Arabs as violent uncivilized religious extremists who continually attempt to terrorize the US as well as other Western countries. I also learned that many people believe many impractical stereotypes of Arabs in movies because, firstly, reporters are always stretching the truth about news and that causes various stereotypes to form. Secondly, many schools are taught false information about the Middle East which leads them to believe those stereotypes publicized in the media. Some textbooks even depict Middle Easterners as terrorists who support violence. Thirdly, 9/11 caused much distrust and hate towards Middle Easterners and Muslims so Hollywood used that hate and put it in movies. Finally, most of my sources were from an Arab perspective and the viewpoints were mainly bias towards the stereotyping in the media. However, I have one source where the reporter thought stereotypes were good for society, and he also thought that Muslims and Arabs were too sensitive (source 6). Overall, I learned that the real villains aren’t Arabs or Middle Easterners, but the villain is actually Hollywood.

Women’s Hijab of the Middle East

Joyce

Introduction:

“They rob us of our accurate perceptions” – Queen Rania of Jordan

Stereotypes have always been a significant issue throughout the world because it ‘robs us of our accurate perceptions’. In other words, it creates false identities that lead to incorrect interpretations. Unlike other Muslim women, Queen Rania fought against stereotypes of the Middle East and used her status and political power to gain rights for her fellow Muslim society. Because of my special interest in fashion, while learning about the Middle East, I noticed that Muslims wear fancy headscarves that cover the head and the shoulders; some women even cover themselves entirely with black cloth. I had always viewed the Hijabs as a symbol of Muslim society and that women without Hijabs would not ‘look’ Muslim. Even though most women do wear head-coverings by either choice or force, some others seem to not take this tradition for granted. Those who live outside of the Muslim society and those who have power and freedom care not to wear the Hijabs as a representation of their faith to Islam. Therefore, is there a choice for Muslim women to choose whether to wear the Hijabs or not and would not wearing it be a symbol of disgrace to the religion of Islam? In order to dig deeper into this topic about women rights and the traditions of Islam, we first need to fully understand and produce accurate perceptions before we are robbed by false stereotypes.

Conclusion:

“One should not be judged by what they are wearing on their heads, but instead, by what is inside their heads.” Once again, I quoted the Queen Rania of Jordan because her words of wisdom clearly reflected the thesis of my research. Covered and included in my research project are the following five subtopics. Viewpoints of Queen Rania of Jordan on the topic of hijabs; choices of women in relation to mainly the hijab; representations and reasons why Muslim women wear hijabs; circumstances, controversy and debate on the wearing of the hijab and additional interesting information that adds to my topic. My research question stated that I wanted to find out whether or not Muslim women have choices on the wearing of the hijab and would not wearing it be a symbol of disgrace to the religion of Islam? My research revealed that the choice of women rights depends on the Islamic rules of country that they live in; different governments may have different laws and regulations on the modesty of women. Some countries such as Turkey are con-hijabs, they require women to not wear any religious clothing during work time, this act troubled many but at the same time, several took it as an advantage and carried their faith mentally instead of physically. However, not all countries are satisfied with the amount of restriction on women. Some countries such as Saudi Arabia forced both religious and secular women to believe not with their hearts, but with the hijabs. Enforcement based on the wearing of the hijab has led to cases of murder and violence of innocent young women. Therefore, some women (most ones who live outside of the Muslim society or ones with high statuses) do get to choose whether to wear the hijab or not. However, would not wearing it be a symbol of disgrace to their religion? Most of my sources revealed the answer of no. Women who are able to abandon the retrials indicated in their religion and carry faith mentally would understand that your religion should depend on what your heart believes in, not what your clothing indicates. The hijab is only a representation of faith; the real faith stands within ones soul and cannot be removed or discouraged by the removal of one piece of simple clothing. Throughout my research, I have noticed several biased viewpoints and information on the topic of the hijab. In source 3, the story told of outsiders of Islam who debated about the hijabs and produced negative viewpoints about this idea. The British government minister indicated that communication with Muslim members would be sufficient if they were not wearing their face coverings. A biased viewpoint is resulted here leading more towards the British government based on their unawareness of the Islam religion. I have also encountered several other biased statements leading mostly towards the side opposite from the Muslims. After doing this research, I realized that my perceptions on the Muslim society and traditions have become more accurate and that I can no longer be easily robbed by false stereotypes and misconceptions.

Violence is not the answer

Joyce

The wearing of a simple cloth covering a Muslim woman’s hair and shoulders is called the wearing to the hijab. It is a representation of the modesty, privacy, and morality. Many young women have been illegally murdered and threatened to death because they refused to wear the traditional head covering of the hijab. The hijab had always been in a complicated situation with both Muslims and outsiders. It had become a widely distributed stereotype on the power and rights of Middle Eastern women in comparison to the men. Stories of innocent Muslim girls who have been harmed by this policy of rights have been told for centuries. Surprisingly, many of the murderers are often the victim’s family.

The video attached below tells true stories about Muslim women who were murdered for various reasons such as marrying someone unapproved by her parents or someone of different race or religions, some were also murdered because they refused to wear the hijabs.

This act of injustice must stop before more innocent lives are killed, the chances that we can stop this from happening again is indeed very vague. However, if believers of Islam can interpret their faith correctly, then I think this would not be such a complicated problem. One cannot be forced to believe, faith will approach them if they truly believe with their own soul. Marrying someone of different race or religion should not be illegal or banned because if you cannot control one’s thoughts and beliefs, then you would never be able to control one’s love interests. Some goes to the wearing of the hijab; hijabs are only physical representations of a Muslim woman’s faith and morality. If the representation of the other side is taken away, this would not stop a faithful individual to leave behind her beliefs are be unfaithful. Only the insignificant outer material is taken away, the faith is not. Women who wear the hijabs suffer discrimination and many preferred to fulfill their faith mentally, not physically. I think this should be allowed, people’s perceptions should start to manipulate and adapt to the changes in our society and that we should believe in what is real instead of what is being said during history. Faith is holy and divine, if faith was ever incorrectly processed, violence should never be the solution.

Fiction or Fact?

Christine:

As I’ve been researching my topic question for the past few days, I stumbled across an article about why people stereotype the Middle East. Since my topic is about the stereotypes of the Middle East, I decided to give that article a look. As I was reading the article, I was extremely surprised about what the article was saying.

In the article, it said that children across the world are not taught about the Middle East because, especially in America, children are only taught about African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Asia/Pacific Americans. How about Middle Easterners or Arabs? The fact that there is not a lot of racism towards blacks anymore is because children are being taught about the history of Africans and African Americans. If children were taught about the culture and history of the Middle East, many kids would not have false perceptions about Arabs, Muslims, and Middle Easterners. The only way to end the discrimination toward Middle Easterners is if schools start teaching Middle Eastern culture. That way children will know the truth instead of lies that are visible in numerous movies.

The article also stated that the few schools that do teach the culture of the Middle East have textbooks that show even more stereotypes of the Middle East. Some textbooks even link Islam to violence but one thing that they don’t know is that Islam, Christianity, and Judaism are extremely similar religions. In Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, it is believed that there is only one God who created the universe. In the three religions, there is a different name for God. In Christianity, it’s God The Father, in Judaism, it’s Yaweh, and in Islam, it’s Allah. However, in many textbooks, it is sometimes shown that Allah is a word the refers to an ‘Alien’ God much different the the God from Jewish and Christian tradition. But really, they’re all the same! Because of those false teachings, many kids will have numerous perceptions of the Middle East and that causes all the hatred towards them.

I also came upon another article which talked about the same topic as the article before: why people stereotype the Middle East. In this article, it said that after 9/11 (a series of coordinated suicide attacks by Al-Qaeda upon the United States), the stereotypes of the Middle East dramatically grew. People all over the world were perceiving that all Middle Easterners were terrorists so many Westerners were cautious when approaching Arabs. However, only less than a percent of the population of the Middle East are terrorists. Then why were so many people believing fiction instead of fact? Well, as I continued researching, I found out that after 9/11, Hollywood increased the number of stereotypical movies and with more movies that show lies about the Middle East, more people believed that the lies were true.

Many stereotypes also come from the news. As I was eating dinner one day, the TV was turned on to CNN and I noticed that the news always gives out the bad news instead of the good news about the Middle East. So, if someone was watching or reading the news, they would see all the news about suicide bombings and war about the Middle East and they would perceive the Middle East as a dangerous place with many terrorists.

I don’t think these issues should continue without anything being done. People across the world need to understand the true facts about the Middle East and not just believe the stereotypes of cartoons, like the movie Aladdin. What do you think about these issues? What do you think should be done?

Political Cartoon

Image Courtesy: The Herald Tribune 5/16/09

Kaumudi:

(Click to enlarge)

Image courtesy: Herald Tribune 5/16/09

On May 16th there was this political cartoon in the Herald Tribune. I saw it and was instantly reminded of our blog. This is because at first I had no idea what the cartoon was getting to and I’m still not sure so I thought that if I put it up here then we all could brainstorm our ideas on what it means. Some clues that might help you guys figure out the meaning are Obama (President of U.S.A) and the Afghanistan on two sides. Remember that the Taliban is in Afghanistan and Obama doesn’t like them yet he still seems to be having food in a suitcase for them, or is it food for those who destroy Afghanistan? What do you guys think? Leave your ideas in a comment!

Iranian Flag

photo courtesy: google images

Kaumudi:

Have you ever wondered what this flag with intricate writing says or represents? The three main colors on the bands- green white and red symbolize strength, peace and courage. The emblem in the center represents the ways of Islamic life. The writing to the side of the emblem is Allahu Akbar written 22 times. This flag shows the change in things since the Iranian revolution. But couldn’t this be seen as a controversial flag because everyone in Iran isn’t Muslim.

The Kite Runner

Christine:

In many movies, Middle Easterners are portrayed as villains who kill innocent people for money. For example, in the movie Tarzan, Tarzan battles with an Arab man who kidnaps Jane, Superman battles with Arab terrorists hijacking a US nuclear carrier, and the Fantastic Four fight with an oil sheikh supervillain. When will Middle Easterners ever be portrayed as the good guys? Well, there was one movie that I watched during winter vacation called ‘The Kite Runner’. This movie is based in Afghanistan and the US. In the movie, instead of the bad guy being from the Middle East, the good guy is now from the Middle East.

In ‘The Kite Runner’, the main characters Amir and Hassan grow up together in Afghanistan like brothers. Amir is the son of a wealthy businessman, and he’s educated. Hassan’s father is a servant to Amir’s father, and Hassan is illiterate and he has a harelip. But neither boy has a mother and they spend their childhood flying kites together. Amir calls Hassan his kite runner because Hassan always runs after the kites after their string is cut. One day, after a kite flying tournament, Hassan runs to fetch the kite until he meets some bullies and is beaten mercilessly. Amir watches Hassan being beaten while hiding and he does nothing to help his best friend.

Later, the Russians invade Afghanistan and Amir and his father escape to Pakistan. In 1988, they have a simple life in Fremont, California where Amir graduates in a public college. A couple years later, after Amir’s father dies, Amir gets a phone call from his childhood teacher in Afghanistan and his teacher tells Amir to come back to Afghanistan. Amir decides to return to his homeland and when he arrives, he learns that his childhood brother/friend had been killed by a land mine and his child, Sohrab was still alive. Amir decides to go on a dangerous journey to save his best friend’s son. If you want to know what happens next, you should watch the movie because the movie is a heartwarming movie about forgiveness and atonement.

[The Kite Runner trailer. From You Tube]