Obsession: A Case Study


Click here for an in-depth summary, including a thorough scene-by-scene analysis of "Obsession" (PDF).

TALKING POINTS ABOUT "OBSESSION"

  • The intent of the film to promote fear and hatred is absolutely clear. Obsession is a shameless piece of anti-Muslim propaganda which aims to produce anxiety, mistrust, and deep unease in the average American viewer about the presence, activities and attitudes of millions of their fellow Muslim American citizens. 

  • Large parts of the film present themselves as exposing Arab and Muslim hate-speech, but by misrepresenting fringe and marginal discourses as mainstream views, Obsession perpetuates the very hate speech it claims to denounce. 

  • The film "Obsession" was initially produced by an organization called Honestreporting.com, which has direct ties to the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Honestreporting.com's U.S. Executive Director admitted to the Minnesota Monitor in spring 2007 that the Obsession "pushes the buttons too far." 

  • The Clarion Fund - a non-profit organization that does not publicize its officers, office location, or source of funding - financed the distribution of some 28 million DVDs containing Obsession in what many political analysts describe as 'swing' states in the upcoming presidential elections. 

  • Editorial and letter writers nationwide have called the film "propaganda" and even compared it to Leni Riefenstahl's 1935 pro-Nazi film "Triumph of the Will." Jeff VanDenBerg, director of Middle East Studies at Drury University, called the film "a blatant piece of anti-Muslim propaganda" (News-Leader, 9/17/08). An editorial in the Raleigh News & Observer says "Although the film took pains to say that most Muslims are not violent, that disclaimer was buried in the avalanche of anti-Islamic images, slogans and interviews with experts of dubious credentials." 

  • Obsession should be exposed at every turn for the hateful propaganda that it is. It is shocking that at least 70 mainstream newspapers around the country would actively choose to profit from hate, and allow themselves to be used to promote fear mongering as a means to influence the outcome of the presidential election. A DVD produced by the KKK aimed at detailing the 'threat' posed by African Americans, homosexuals, or Jews would never have been distributed this way - and neither should Obsession have been.  

TAKE ACTION

Terrorism and radicalism are real dangers we all face. Mainstream Muslims, who constitute the majority of Muslims in the United States and around the world, share a commitment to oppose and prevent terrorism and radicalization. The makers of Obsession are interested in created widespread fear and hatred toward Muslims by using classic propaganda tactics. Propaganda is information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc. It has historically been used to promote publish fear, disdain and dehumanization of a particular group of people for terrible purposes. Recall the use of classic films, cartoons and posters of Jews, Japanese, Black and other groups in the United States.

Despite the fact that the film opens with a disclaimer that it is not about all Muslims in general, but about a radical worldview and ideology, Obsession argues that Muslims are, in effect, Nazis, and that radical Muslims have embarked on a campaign of world conquest inspired directly by Adolf Hitler. The disclaimer at the start of the film is undermined from the outset, the film moves rapidly to blur any such distinctions.

It is clear that Obsession is a film designed to promote fear and hatred of Muslims in general. Many groups across the U.S. have already identified the film as such. We now call on the rest of the country to take a stand against bigotry and prejudice.

WHAT YOU CAN & SHOULD DO!

  1. Get a thorough summary and scene-by-scene analysis of Obsession.

  2. Contact your local newspaper or magazine. If you have received an Obsession DVD with your newspaper or magazine, write a letter to the publisher expressing your concern over their decision to distribute hate-filled propaganda. Visit your newspaper's website and click on 'Contact Us' to find out whom to address your letter to. Please cc: truthoverfear@mpac.org.

  3. Contact your interfaith coalitions, local human relations commissions, minority organizations to inform them of what has happened and ask them to speak out against "Obsession" to their communities and sign a joint letter to the newspaper publisher.

  4. Contribute to MPAC's "Truth Over Fear: Countering Islamophobia" campaign. We need your financial support now more than ever to expand our campaign to end these bigoted attacks against American values. Donate today and help us put an end to intolerance.

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