Engaging 'Tyrant' Producers to Minimize Stereotypes & Tell Better Stories

June 24, 2014

With the debut of the FX Network’s new dramatic series “Tyrant” tonight, the Muslim Public Affairs Council thanked the producers for reaching out to its Hollywood Bureau to minimize stereotypes and enhance the accuracy and authentic representation of Islam and Muslims.

“MPAC’s strategy is to engage industry leaders to build credible relationships, increase accuracy, minimize stereotypes, and promote more nuanced storytelling in the long term,” said Suhad Obeidi, head of MPAC’s Hollywood Bureau. “We work diligently to protect and improve the image and understanding of Islam. We believe that in order to get better stories told, American Muslims must be part of the process whether it is through their creative voices or engagement with the industry.”

Just like any fictional drama featuring an underrepresented community, “Tyrant” has its share of controversial elements. “Tyrant’s” storyline is art imitating life. Drawn from real world brutality at the hands of ruthless dictators, the show makes tyrants look like tyrants. That said, MPAC does not endorse the content of projects we consult on, as we do not have control of the final product in any way.

In his Daily Beast column released today, comedian and media commentator Dean Obeidallah called “Tyrant” a “step in the right direction for Muslims” due in large part to producer Howard Gordon’s interest and commitment to engaging groups like MPAC in the creative process.

“MPAC has had a significant impact on the development of this project from its inception,” Gordon told Obeidallah. “I tried to address their concerns regarding cultural inaccuracies and potentially incendiary characterizations. I may not always have been entirely successful, but the dialogue has always been open and fluid.”

Set in a fictional war-torn country in the Middle East, the show centers around the character of Bassam “Barry” Al Fayeed, who has been living in Los Angeles for nearly 20 years since his self-selected exile. The younger son of a dictator, Barry returns with his American family to his homeland for his nephew's wedding. His arrival leads to a dramatic clash, as he reluctantly returns to the familial and national politics he once left.

SEE ALSO: “MPAC Hollywood Bureau Consulting on New FX Series ‘Tyrant’” (MPAC.org)

MPAC's Hollywood Bureau serves as a professional resource to the entertainment industry by providing reliable and accurate information on Islam, Muslims and interfaith relations to the Hollywood community, without offering any endorsement of content. The bureau also helps Hollywood professionals connect with creative talent, including Muslim filmmakers, writers and actors.



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