As ‘Ms. Marvel’ Soars, Muslims Still Only Make Up 1% of TV Characters

in Marvel

Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel

Credit: Marvel Studios

Amid the popularity of Ms. Marvel on Disney+, Muslims only make up 1% of television characters, a new report from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative finds. The study’s lead author, Stacy Smith, spoke to Rowaida Abdelaziz from The Huffington Post

Muslims make up 25% of the global population, but Smith said content creators and casting directors “have no imagination.” Smith’s study analyzed 200 top-rated television shows from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand from 2018 to 2019.

Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan
Credit: Marvel Studios

“The global entertainment industry has either sidelined Muslim voices entirely or cast Muslim actors in roles rooted in stereotypes,” Abdelaziz wrote.

Related: Marvel Goes Too Far, Changes ‘Moon Knight’ Forever with Bizarre Crossover

“This is people being lazy with a group of people that routinely are being dehumanized as either perpetrators or victims of violence, or with disparaging comments,” Smith said. She is concerned that these storylines can lead to real-life fear and violence.

Muslim characters are often portrayed as violent and foreign on screen, according to a new study.
Credit: Annenberg Inclusion Initiative via The Huffington Post

87% of shows studied featured no Muslim characters. Out of 8,885 speaking roles, only 98 were Muslim characters. Those Muslim characters were regularly portrayed as foreign or violent, with other characters often using words like “terrorist,” “predator,” and “monster.” 30% of Muslim characters perpetrated violence, and 40% were victims of violence.

Related: Superhero Roster Continues to Grow at Avengers Campus With the Arrival of Ms. Marvel

Muslim women most frequently faced violence and distress on screen – though 70% of Muslim characters were men. One of the authors of the study, Al-Baab Khan, explained:

“We didn’t see them really leading their own storylines or showing them in empowering roles — which, again, creates this light that Muslim women cannot be leaders and they cannot be empowered.”

Ms. Marvel on Disney Wish, Credit: Disney Parks Blog

Many Muslim characters were portrayed as Middle Eastern or North African despite being the most ethnically and racially diverse religious group globally. Only 13% of Muslim characters were from majority non-Muslim countries.

Considering the booming popularity of Ms. Marvel and praise for its representation of a Pakistani-American family, it seems audiences are eager for more Muslim representation on screen.

More on Ms. Marvel 

Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel
Credit: Marvel Studios

Ms. Marvel stars Iman Vellani, Yasmeen Fletcher, Matt Lintz, Fawad Khan, Rish Shah, and Mehwish Hayat. Created by Bisha K. Ali and based on Marvel Comics, the first episode premiered on Disney+ on June 8, 2022. From Disney Plus:

Kamala Khan, a teenager growing up in Jersey City and mega fan of the Avengers, feels a little out of place at school and sometimes even at home. She is determined to attend AvengerCon, even if her parents won’t allow it. But what starts off as a Captain Marvel cosplay competition takes an unexpected turn – is she becoming one of the super heroes she’s always looked up to?

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