Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Towelhead or Nothing Is Private? More Sensitivity

Less than two weeks ago, StrangeCulture readers entered into an engaging conversation about the use of the word "retard" in the comedy Tropic Thunder. Special Olympics chairman and CEO Timothy Shriver tried to create a boycott of this film and create protest opportunities in response to it's comical portrayal of mental disabilities.

The majority of comments by StrangeCulture readers seemed to think that Shriver and protesters were out of line to be critical of this R-rated comedy...especially for Shriver to call the use of the "R-word" as a hate crime.

Well, what about this?

Alan Ball, is most recognized for having writing the Oscar winning script for the dark comedy American Beauty, as well as creator/producing/directing/writing for Six Feet Under.

On September 12th, Alan Ball's film Towelhead will be in limited release in theaters after showing at the Toronto International Film Festival. The title of the film has bounced back and forth between Towelhead (also the tile of the book by Alicia Erian for which the film is based) and Nothing Is Private (the title which the film went by at Toronto).

The producers and studios have decided to go with the more direct title of Towelhead which summarizes some of the main themes in this suburban satire about a young Arab-American struggling to find her identity during the gulf war.

The title, clearly illuminating some of the offensive associations that Arab-Americans experience is where the title is derived from.

For this reason the LA office of CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) has released a press release requesting that studio execs change the title of the film back to Nothing Is Private.

What about that? Is this just another case of sensitivity, or do you think there request is valid? Is this the same or different than the concern voiced over Tropic Thunder?

What are your thoughts?

4 comments:

b13 said...

I'm SORRY Muh-muh-muh-mamma!

That movie rocked. People need to chill!

crackers and cheese said...

I prefer the title "Towelhead" because it's provocative and directly addresses the themes of the film, bluntly confronting racism against Arab-Americans, and the title "Nothing is Private" does not capture that like "Towelhead." "Nothing is Private" I'm sure touches on other themes of the film, but seems watered down in comparison. In current society, everyone seems to downplay racism and discrimination and describe themselves as "colorblind" and play it ultra-safe, but I think we need things like this title that really get under our skin and expose discrimination for the ugly, offensive thing that it is. If we're not being offended by racist terms, then we're probably just ignoring a problem that still very much exists.

I'm sure people would be just as up in arms about a film title "Retard" or "Nigger," but if those films were addressing discrimination against those with mental retardation or racism against blacks, then in my opinion, their titles would probably be appropriate.

Magnus said...

Towelhead is the better title. It is provocative and I would say it needs to be. The racism towards people from the Middle East - more than just Arabs - needs to be dicussed. i will try to make a point of seeing this film. I hope it plays here.

Loren Eaton said...

If nothing else, it's certainly more risky. I am reminded of the experience of cartoonists in Europe ...

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