This work is going to argue on the subject how Muslims are influenced by American movies regarding body image, beauty and the way they behave?It is a traditional viewpoint, that adopted American way of behavior is changing the values, which the elder generations of Muslim people used to have. The given paper will discuss whether the American values make the traditional Muslim values change and how these changes influenced the way of life of Muslim people.
It is stated that people start to speak about the values as soon as they are threatened to lose their country or to lose their freedom, equality and opportunities. On the other hand, it can't but be stated that Muslim national values have drastically changed under the influence of America mainly through mass media, and especially television (Hentoff, 2002). The question remains to be open, whether Muslims are too weak to resist to the influence that is determining their behavior, way of life and predicting their actions for the nearest future. Actually, it must be mentioned that the values, which they used to hold earlier, have not changed, but their attitude towards them is absolutely different in comparison to what it used to be a couple of decades ago. Thus, it is essential to discuss this issue and to prove that Muslims are greatly influenced by American movies and this influence is more negative than positive.
The history of American-Muslim relationship
Before talking about how exactly the way of life of Muslims were influenced by America, it is essential to trace the history and roots of such influence. We live in a world of contradictions, where there is a constant need to prove the strength and power. From time immemorial there exists a confrontation between superpowers. Eastern countries and the United States of America are the brightest samples of such confrontation (Rios, 2006). It is hard to say definitely why the American-Muslim relations are so specific: different mentalities, lifestyles, cultures and, of course, ideology and history. The situation was injected by the journalists, authorities and just people eager to create sensations (Siracusa, 23).
Indeed, the relationship between these two states was tensed and complicated. Lots of pains were taken to change the situation, and nowadays there is an opinion that the history of American-Muslim relationship is to be reviewed (Siracusa, 12).
Fortunately, time is changing, as well as people’s opinions, views and priorities are. Unlike, for example the USSR, The States didn’t fall apart like a card house. The living standards and foredoom of speech in the USA are on higher lever in comparison with East (Graydon, 2004). So, it is hard to deny the fact that Muslim perception of everything somehow connected with America is gradually changing. Moreover, nowadays lots of people in the East want to live and work in the USA, in spite of the history of unstable and tensed relations (Gabrial, 1974).
Unfortunately, American way of life becomes more and more popular throughout the world, and Muslims are not an exception (Kelley, 1992). A self-made man, successful businessman with a wonderful house and happy family is shown in American movies. As a matter of fact, at present this dream is not only American. Such “terrific man” is an epitome for most of people from other countries. (Medved, 2006).
"To Muslims, Americans are time obsessed. To Americans, time is money. To Muslims, relationships are more important than time" (Visson, 65). Americans are dry money-makers, all they need is money, they create families after they are thirty - that what people used to say in the Soviet Union. But now American lifestyle serves as a model for most of Muslim youth. American newspapers and TV channels becomes more and more popular, Muslims adore Hollywood actors and top-models. Some people state that American mass media manipulates the consciousness of people and propagates unhealthy lifestyle. Muslims allowed themselves to be influenced by America and it is interesting to discuss how and why that happened (Kunkle, 2006).
Were Muslims greatly influenced by American media regarding body image, beauty and behavior?
Muslims are people, which are acting in accordance with the directions of Islam. These rules and guidelines can be found in the Qur’an. To fit in the organic part of the humanity is to become a natural and careful person, which is attentive for the Islamic regulations outlined in the Qur’an. However, the text of Holy Book of Muslims sometimes contradicts what they see on TV when watching American movies.
If to trace the evolution of body image of Muslim women, it became clear that there is great influence of America. Slim women look at us from the screens of the TV sets and the covers of the bright magazines. These women are called to persuade us in the way female beauty should look, the beauty which is able to urge all conceivable and unconceivable instincts, desires and abilities. More and more Muslims received the chance to visit the United States and look at American women. It appeared that in reality most of them do not look like as photo-models, but still their appearance influenced Muslim people greatly. It became prestigious to promote the natural beauty – everything natural, which is given to us by nature. It is not occasional that majority of women become a little bit fatter (or acquire more roundish shapes) – it has been natural since the ancient times and since the times the human existed. It should be openly admitted, that looking on real American women Muslims finally understood that those women who can be proud of having perfect shapes (90-60-90), and who look like models from magazines constitute no more than 10% of the whole female population (Rios, 1997). In any case, illnesses, pregnancies, age and other factors impact the female shape first of all. This is why for a woman who constantly compares herself with the way the girls from magazine covers look don’t work for raising her self-esteem. Maybe, it would be beneficial to find other samples for comparison, which would serve as the means of supporting the benefits of the natural real appearance of majority of women.
Muslim women have been traditionally associated with nonviolence and domesticity; women have been historically assigned with the vision of care and tolerance; women have been always given a role of a silent and passive male supporters. However, the influence of American media is breaking Muslim women’s principles making them think about their appearance more than about their husbands and families.
The new samples were also given by American media. Popular American movies and advertising brought to Muslims a new “woman” – “business woman”. People all over the world hurried to change the way of behavior in their families, making husbands help look after children, cook and do about the house, and providing wives with new opportunities to work and make carrier. Men were also greatly influenced by American media that led to appearance of “business men”, who create many new companies, have several occupations at once and have breakfast in “MacDonald”. Fast food became popular, first because it was from America and secondly because it helped new “business people” move and work faster without break for dinner (Pope, 1997).
It is essential to say more about family and husband-and-wife relations. It is no argument, that family remains to be one of the core values of the American society and the shape of American family is more and more becoming the shape. These changes may be good for many cultures but not Muslim culture where a woman is first of all a wife and a mother. These changes are revealed through the understanding that the nuclear form of family is now expanded far beyond the traditional meaning of this value. The media and television have changed value of family, putting more stress on the pragmatic considerations of career. In the husband-wife relations it has also changed from the role responsibilities toward making them shared. The next very important fact is the free sexual behavior of American people shown on TV. Such behavior before marriage is strictly forbidden by Muslims principles. ('O'Reilly: Young Americans 'Have no Idea of What's Going On' Because They 'Get Their News from Jon Stewart').
It is not a secret that American way of life becomes more and more popular throughout the world, and many states including Eastern are influenced by American media. A self-made man, successful businessman with his slim wife who is also a business-woman attracts the attention of Muslims. As a matter of fact, at present this dream is not only American. The fact that the American media changes Muslim traditional values is evident. The character of influence can be argued but the following paper proved that this impact is still more negative than positive. Potentially media could first of all become the means and instruments of spreading American values, making not only Muslim but other societies in the world adopt them. On the other hand, it is not only television or press in itself, which makes people change their values – it is the combination of many factors; the matter of choice prevails here and makes people pay attention to the news and information, which is valuable for the development of new possibilities for their carrier and can provide the means of spending free time. The changing of values occurs unconsciously, but it has taken large scales. The values are changed through the combination of media and other factors, among which economics, social life and culture. Yes, American media does influence Muslim values, but it should not be taken as a sole participant of these changes. The role of media in changing values should be looked at through the prism of all factors, which at present determine people’s way of life.