In Search of the Muslim Sassy Gay Friend
Pop culture stereotypes may not accurately depict members of minority groups. Whether it's the rich depiction of family on The Cosby Show or the gay men who transform lives in everything from Queer Eye to Will and Grace, film and television tropes have helped sell mainstream Americans on the idea that a more diverse society benefits everyone.
As debates rage about Islam and Islamaphobia in America, Katie Couric suggested that a Muslim version of The Cosby Show would help hasten acceptance. Instead of a single Muslim show or family, maybe we need ideas for Muslim character tropes that will work in various shows and films to make the case that Islam can bring added value to American life. Looking at roles from Sayid Jarrah on Lost to Abed Nadir on Community, TLC's All-American Muslim to films like The Taqwacores, we'll discuss what those characters might look like, and what the added value might be. And we'll look at what lies beyond tropes in a time when we no longer need them.
Alyssa Rosenberg is the culture blogger for ThinkProgress.org. She is a correspondent for TheAtlantic.com and The Loop 21. Before joining ThinkProgress, she was editor of Washingtonian.com and a staff correspondent at Government Executive. Her work has appeared in Esquire.com, The Daily, The American Prospect, The New Republic, National Journal, and The Daily Beast.
Faiz Shakir is a Vice President at the Center for American Progress and serves as Editor-in-Chief of ThinkProgress.org. He holds a B.A. degree in Government from Harvard University and a J.D. degree from the Georgetown Law Center. Faiz has previously worked as a Research Associate for the Democratic National Committee, as a Legislative Aide to Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL) on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, and as a communications aide in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Faiz is co-author of Howard Dean’s Prescription for Real Healthcare Reform, The Change We Need: What Britain Can Learn from Obama’s Victory, and Fear, Inc: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America.
Omar Majeed is an award-winning director, editor, and producer who has worked in film and television for over ten years.
A few years back he paired up with one of Canada's most successful documentary production companies, EyeSteelFilm (Up the Yangtze, Rip!, Last Train Home) to write, direct and edit his first feature-length documentary TAQWACORE: The Birth of Punk Islam - which had its U.S. premiere at SXSW in 2010. The film chronicles the rise of the nascent Muslim Punk scene in North America and Pakistan. SPIN magazine named the film one of the ten best music docs of 2009.
His most recent documentary film, The Frog Princes was recently broadcast on CBC television in Canada and is currently touring the festival circuit.
In addition to all of that, Omar is also hard at work trying to perfect his recipes for Chicken Balti and Chicken Karahi. Any suggestions are welcome.