Films and television programmes are powerful mediums that are often taken for granted. They are major sources of entertainment and escapism, as well as often offering educational commentary on society, informing us about ideas and cultures we aren’t familiar with. We are often excited to watch the latest blockbuster summer releases, but if you are Muslim, that excitement also comes with a dose of apprehension.
Muslims see time and time again how carelessly or intentionally film and television makers bandy around stereotypes about Muslim communities. The ways in which Muslims are represented in films and in television are shocking. And this is why we need the Riz Test.
The Riz Test is defined by five criteria: If the film stars at least one character who is identifiably Muslim (by ethnicity, language or clothing) – is the character…
1. Talking about, the victim of, or the perpetrator of Islamist terrorism?
2. Presented as irrationally angry?
3. Presented as superstitious, culturally backwards or anti-modern?
4. Presented as a threat to a Western way of life?
5. If the character is male, is he presented as misogynistic? Or if female, is she presented as oppressed by her male counterparts? If the answer for any of the above is yes, then the film/show fails the test. Simple.
It should be easy for most films to pass, right? Wrong.