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Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Characters

  • Sama Dizayee

Jimmy Vestvood, an independent Hollywood movie featuring the Iranian American comedian Maz Jobrani, is about an Iranian who wins a green card lottery ticket and moves to the United States, where he becomes an “Amerikan Hero.”

Jobrani hopes a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters will connect with American audiences.

"We wanted to do a movie where the guy who saves the day in the end of the movie is of Middle Eastern descent," Jobrani said, "because as you know, nine times out of 10 when you see a Middle Easterner in an American movie, he is saying, 'I will kill you in the name of Allah.' It’s usually a terrorist or a bad guy, so we said how about a movie that’s made in America that actually has the guy who saves the day."

It took Jobrani and his co-writer 10 years to write the movie, but only 18 days to film it in Los Angeles. He said no big studios were willing to produce the movie, so he and his partners had to do it independently.

"Hollywood does not know that there is an audience for this type of film, but I know through my standup comedy that there is an audience that wants to see Middle Easterners in a positive and fun light," he said. "Not just Middle Easterners, but also Americans who come to my shows who want to see a different side of Middle Easterners."

Jobani thinks American audience are ready for the kind of humor featured in his film in the film.

"I think that Americans are very smart and I think that we underestimate a lot of Americans," he said. "There’s a lot of Americans who are more internationally minded; they are curious about other parts of the world.

"I know that because of my shows, when I do live shows, I look at the audience it’s like 50 percent just white Americans, black Americans, Asian Americans, other Americans than Middle East Americans."