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Old 17 November 2009, 06:39 PM
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snopes snopes is offline
Join Date: 18 February 2000
Location: California
Posts: 109,642
Icon18 Sesame Street used photo of Arab to mean "danger"

Comment: I'm a graduate student of Rhetoric and Composition and I just read an
essay published in 1999 by Anissa Janine Wardi called "Terrorists, Madmen,
and Religious Fanatics?: Revisiting Orientalism and Racist Rhetoric" in a
book called "Race, Rhetoric, and Composition." On page 33: "Movie
producers have parlayed the popularity of the Arab villain into major
motion pictures. Like Sesame Street, in which a picture of an Arab was
used to signify the word 'danger'..."

I'm trying to trace the origins of this claim, which I believe may be an
apocryphal myth perpetuated by rhetoricians.

The earliest reference I could find to Sesame Street using the image of an
arab to depict 'danger' is a 1986 David Lamb essay called "Viewing the
Arab." There is another reference to it in Laurence Michalak's 1988 essay
"Cruel and Unusual: Negative Images in American Popular Culture" which is
the source of the statement's appearance in the Wardi essay.

I've watched all the "Danger" videos at and scoured the
internet and academic databases, but I can't find a source.
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Old 17 November 2009, 07:02 PM
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Mama Duck Mama Duck is offline
Join Date: 22 October 2001
Location: South Texas
Posts: 12,151

I obviously haven't gone through every single episode of Sesame Street. However, none of their "danger" segments since the 70's onward even feature humans, aside from the odd child. Muppet vikings feature promiently as do singing cows, monsters, various muppets getting electrocuted, falling off cliffs, lots of implications that traffic is dangerous as well as hoisting pianos up high rise apartment buildings. Inadequate scaffolding and ill-advised pyrotechnics get called into question. But not one Arab thus far. Oh I forgot, reading a newspaper on railroad tracks is used to demonstrate danger.

Ya know, Sesame Street really much for subtlety.
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Old 30 June 2010, 07:16 AM
ichabodius ichabodius is offline
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