Saturday, May 31, 2014

THE DELTA FORCE (1986) as ideology in action

DELTA FORCE, starring Chuck Norris and Lee Marvin, is perhaps one of the most stereotypical of anti-Arab films seen on the US screens, a B-grade action picture that still needs to be acknowledged not just as an Israeli production, filmed completely in country at Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus's newly opened GG Israel Studios facility in Jerusalem, but as a manifestation of the overriding view of the Palestinian cause in America in 1986.
As such, what we get are caricatures of Arabs, embracing a Soviet-fostered terrorist ideology of revolution in opposition to imperialism, Zionism, and all anti-socialist violence, separating the Jewish men out from the rest of the hijacked passengers and behaving in a fashion akin to animals, snarling and making barbaric gesticulations.  This characterization extends to the geographic, especially in the representation of the Palestinian exile community in Lebanon.  In one scene, an elder Jewish American, being held captive by anti-Semitic Arabs in Beirut, reminisces about how the 'old' Beirut of the 1950's and '60's was akin to Las Vegas.  The obvious underlying statement, that Palestinians transformed the city into a war zone featuring the cry of the muezzin interlaced with bullet and mortar explosions.  These sorts of marauder tropes go back centuries, so these stock villains are not new, no matter how many Leninist-sounding catch phrases they spout.  And indeed our modern perceptions of Islam in America still are augmented by these sorts of one-dimensional stereotypes.

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