Wanderlust…

The International Reporting (and Life) Adventures of Vivian Salama

Queen, Comedians Use YouTube To Fight Stereotypes

Posted by vmsalama on August 1, 2008

Vivian Salama

PostGlobal – Washingtonpost.com

If I had a nickel for every time somebody has asked me if I walk like an Egyptian, I’d be well into retirement!! Apparently, I’m not alone.

A team of Middle Eastern-American comedians has banded together, with the help Jordan’s Queen Rania, to promote an awareness campaign against stereotypes. The video released this week is just the latest installment on Her Majesty’s YouTube channel geared toward encouraging global dialogue to counter racism, violence and hate. “Queen Rania: The YouTube Queen,” as the project is called, encourages viewers to express their opinions of the Middle East and discuss the stereotypes they believe or have experienced.

Queen Rania of Jordan

“I’m hoping that this will really become a channel of communication and hopefully one of many between East and West, because I really think that our world is very much in dire need of that,” the Queen told the BCC in a televised interview this week.

In a year when the race for the White House is dominating headlines and political parties are working overtime to get the vote out, a handful of Arab-American performers are vying for the hearts and minds of their countrymen via awareness through laughter.

Call it the new Arab Lobby — only it’s not the minds of those on Capitol Hill this group is looking to woo. American performers of Arab and Iranian heritage are taking their case around the world with an explicit message: No More Mr. Bad Guy.

Performers ranging from stand-up comedians to actors and film makers have been working to tackle numerous issues; from the daily struggles of Arab-Americans in post 9/11 America, to politics, the War on Terror and American pop culture. They often poke fun at themselves or tell anecdotes about their parents since most of them are American-born.

This latest short video, which includes regulars on the US comedy circuit, including Dean Obeidallah and Negin Farsad, features a montage of funny — and sometimes rather disturbing — misconceptions about their ethnic heritage.

“Queen Rania’s initiative provides people with a unique platform to showcase their videos and allows us to tell our story in our own words,” Obeidallah told me. “Our hope is that the video we made will continue the discussion Queen Rania started with her project and help breakdown the negative misconceptions people have about us as well as highlighting some of the contributions we have made to civilization. In addition, I hope our video makes people laugh!”

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