With Season 2 of ‘Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan’ available on Amazon, critics continue to discuss how Hollywood’s mainstream cultural productions portray Muslims and other minorities.
There aren’t many contemporary instances of screenwriting that deal judiciously with raw faith phobia, racism, and prejudice. Season 1 of ‘Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan’ took a stab at it during a time when showrunners, writers, and producers find it convenient to not deal with real-life prejudice and racism. The looming question remained: was it is just another sanitized version of Homeland? An overwhelming majority feels it was.
Hollywood narratives historically have effortlessly toed our foreign policy. Anticipation remains the raison d’etre of a well-written story, and here it seems to work best and translate into success when the story does not offend the status quo. However, there are some fine examples over the past decades that continue to shine because of their sheer simplicity and audacity in dealing with some of these issues rather than tiptoeing around this. Whether it is Jeffrey Nachmanoff’s ‘Traitor’, or Regina Roses’ ’12 Angry Men’, the conceit was in how blatant and yet conflicting the tackle was.
One of the lesser-known examples that continues to generate passionate discussions across the online social communities is the emotional response offered by Araztoo Waziri (Pej Vahdat), a Muslim scientist, to Finn Abernathy (Luke Kleintank) in an episode of Bones (2005–2017). Finn offers to take over Araztoo’s work as the forensic team realizes the remains they were trying to identify could be those of a 9/11 victim. As Clark Edison (Eugene Byrd), an African America, and others huddle around the remains, television audiences are treated to a rare minute of an unadulterated lesson in history.
Finn: Is this too difficult for you, Arastoo? Because I’d be more than happy to do as much as needed to ease your load.
Arastoo: Why would it be more difficult for me than anyone else?
Finn: Because of — — because you share the same religion as those men.
Arastoo: Is it too difficult for you to work with Dr. Edison?
Finn: Um… Excuse me?
Arastoo: You share the same religion with men who…