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Transmissions from a Lone Star: Iran Is Not Very Good at Image Management

19:17 13/03/2013
Weekly column by Daniel Kalder
Tags: "Argo", The Wrestler, Hollywood, Ben Affleck, Mickey Rourke, Iran

So anyway, apparently the Mullahs of Iran are not scary theocrats after all. They’re actually tender petals with exquisitely sensitive feelings. In fact, I hear they silently weep into their beards when nobody is looking.

© Photo

No, really: according to The Guardian, the regime has just hired a French lawyer named Isabelle Coutant-Peyre to take the directors and producers of Hollywood to court for something they call “Iranophobia.” Speaking this Monday at the intriguingly titled “The Hoax of Hollywood” conference, Coutant-Peyre said: "I'll be defending Iran against films that have been made by Hollywood to distort the country's image, such as ‘Argo.’"

Other movies the Iranian authorities find offensive include “The Wrestler,” where Mickey Rourke plays a fat old wrestler, and “300,” where the ancient Persians are portrayed as scary ninjas in cool masks, while their king is a superhuman giant. Is that so bad? Would they like to have been the Greeks – a bunch of sweaty, naked young swains heavily into male bonding? I doubt it.

Anyway, The Guardian’s report continues: “A statement at the end of Monday's meeting condemned ‘Argo’ as a ‘violation of international cultural norms’ and said that the award was a ‘propaganda attack against our nation and entire humanity.’”

Wow, they really hate Ben Affleck, don’t they? Well, OK, so maybe it’s irritating to always find yourself being portrayed as the baddie. But it’s not as if the Iranians do a lot to help themselves in that regard. “Argo” is based on a hostage crisis because…well, it actually happened.

Meanwhile, an accurate portrayal of what the regime is up to these days would be much more offensive – shooting unarmed female protestors, hanging gays, dispatching a scruffy little man to the UN to spout anti-Semitic rubbish or ramble on about an ethereal light, chucking monkeys into space…the list just goes on and on.

That being the case, is it really worth getting worked up about Ben Affleck’s movies?

Apparently, yes.

Still, even if you do think that Hollywood is unfair to Iranians, then what about the Russians? Russians have been Hollywood’s villain of choice for decades now. Even today, 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russians are still the baddies, fighting the Cold War, mucking about with weapons of mass destruction, etc. Hollywood has a completely terrifying Mexican mafia living in the country next door and inside California, but it’s the Russian mafia that’s responsible for most of the skullduggery on screen.

In short, according to Hollywood, Russians are evil. So if anyone has cause to complain, it’s the Russians. But Russians don’t, or at least not that much. Instead, they go down to the multiplex, watch themselves do bad things on celluloid, and then go home. The same rule applies to the English – they’re frequently cast as diabolical serial killers or ineffectual bumblers, but English audiences watch all this tosh without much complaint. Indeed, Mel Gibson built a career on committing acts of violence against the nefarious English in movies such as “Braveheart” and “The Patriot.” And let’s not get started on the range of roles available to Germans in Hollywood. Does it matter that the war ended 68 years ago? Nein. Thus I think the Iranian regime actually has it pretty easy.

Ultimately, though, complaining that Hollywood trades in caricatures and clichés is like criticizing a giraffe for being tall and eating leaves. It’s stupid, and when you’re a violent basket-case regime, this kind of whining makes you look petulant, thin-skinned and weak.

However, none of that is surprising. What’s interesting is Iran’s choice of lawyer. The Guardian gives precious little information about Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, other than mentioning that she is married to Carlos the Jackal, the nutbag Marxist revolutionary who hoped that by killing people and mooching for change from Saddam Hussein he might be able to convert the world to socialism.

Well, love is blind and all that. But a quick survey of Coutant-Peyre’s resume reveals an intriguing taste in clients. First there’s Charles Sobhraj, a serial killer who preyed on Western tourists in Southeast Asia...

And then after that, well, suddenly it all makes depressing sense. There’s Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called “20th hijacker” who claimed at his trial he had wanted to fly a jumbo jet into the White House. Then there’s a chap called Youssuf Fofana, who tortured a young Jewish man to death in France in 2006. Then there’s a holocaust denier, and the convicted drug dealer dad of Mohammed Merha, who vowed to sue France after police shot his Jewish child-murdering son in France last year.

Hm. I see a pattern emerging.

And this is the client list the Mullahs are proud to join, even as they complain about how they’re represented in Hollywood. Oh dear. Methinks there’s just a tiny possibility that there was a bit of frothing at the mouth about “Hollywood Jews” at that Hoax conference.

There, there, my theocratic friends, don’t cry. And really, don’t get upset about Ben Affleck. I mean, have you seen what he’s done to his own nation’s history? Try watching “Pearl Harbor” sometime.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s and may not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

What does the world look like to a man stranded deep in the heart of Texas? Each week, Austin- based author Daniel Kalder writes about America, Russia and beyond from his position as an outsider inside the woefully - and willfully - misunderstood state he calls “the third cultural and economic center of the USA.”

Daniel Kalder is a Scotsman who lived in Russia for a decade before moving to Texas in 2006. He is the author of two books, Lost Cosmonaut (2006) and Strange Telescopes (2008), and writes for numerous publications including The Guardian, The Observer, The Times of London and The Spectator.

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RIA NovostiDaniel KalderTransmissions from a Lone Star: Iran Is Not Very Good at Image Management

19:17 13/03/2013 So anyway, apparently the Mullahs of Iran are not scary theocrats after all. They’re actually tender petals with exquisitely sensitive feelings. In fact, I hear they silently weep into their beards when nobody is looking.>>

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