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May 29, 2007

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clazy

I like the clip. Unfortunately I first encountered Satrapi on the last page of the New Yorker in this annoying cartoon
http://home.earthlink.net/%7Egrotesqueanatomy/fanboyrampage/2004-10/Satrapi.jpg
which offers a candy box of New York attitudes with an Iranian accent. Very pleasing to the local palate, but I lost my taste for such things years ago.

Am I too literal? I find only the tiniest hope in that cartoon for any irony -- the last three lines: "The only pro-Bush Iranian I heard from during my trip here was one who phoned in on a national radio show. I didn't understand where he was coming from. Then I found out he was from Virginia."

The typical elitist New Yorker will read the reference to Virginia as a flag indicating Southern stupidity. The Iranian who called in is lost; for all we know, he owns a gun.... An alternative, ironic reading would see that section pointing back at the New Yorkers--their uniform attitudes being just as predictably associated with place.

But that's really not too satisfying -- I just don't see the value in reducing everyone to place. She's not claiming objectivity -- the last three lines are in her own voice, and she specifically says, "I didn't understand where he was coming from," i.e., he made no sense.

Do any of these other Iranians make sense? Poor woman, she gets extra attention at the airport, and now she feels like a citizen of nowhere--I'm weeping for her. Equating the Republicans with the theocrats running Iran? Why not bring in Hitler while we're at it. "Axis of evil", "nest of Satan"--this is peculiarly superficial; why bother unless you need something to discuss with your freshman comp class. And the guy who says Bush has too much Jesus on the head, too Christian, he'll turn against the Jews -- here I again have to wonder, is this a joke on New Yorkers? Or just one of those last few PC forms of bigotry?

This cartoon confirms her audiences' prejudices, which makes it crap, however good the rest of her stuff is. Which I'll check out.

David

Yes, I can see why Satrapi’s New Yorker fluff might irk. (On comparing the mullahs and their thug-in-chief with a Republican convention: “The only difference is the Republicans had balloons.” Yes, dear, of course it is. If we ignore the beatings of “immodest” women and the repeated threats of genocide.) I should point out I’m not defending Satrapi’s facile politics. As a child she was an enthusiast of Marxism, which says a great deal, I think. The dedication to perversity and unrealism can apparently last a lifetime. Bad medicine.

I did enjoy the first book of Persepolis, but it goes downhill rapidly once Satrapi leaves Iran, and the second book is scarcely worth the paper it’s printed on. I think the central failing is the lack of attention given to Islamic theology and how exactly fundamentalism emerges, and how it’s justified and enforced in overtly theological terms. There’s no attempt to fathom the psychology and dynamics of religious fervour and no attempt to look within Islamic teaching itself. Befuddled by Marxism, Satrapi doesn’t seem concerned by such details. Which is, I think, a rather important oversight.

clazy

Here's an interesting follow up. The Iranians have succeeded in chasing her film out of Thailand. That's unfortunate.
http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,21977259-38196,00.html

David

Clazy,

Yes, I saw. I wonder what kind of pressure was brought to bear. You’ve got to love a government that’s terrified of a cartoon and what it might reveal.

clazy

They *are* terrified. Back when they'd taken the British sailors/marines hostage, the typical leftist comment portrayed Iran as playing some sort of deeper game than we could understand, one reflecting millenia of political experience. Heh. They're simply desperate -- just look at the gas, I mean, petrol, riots. I'm only afraid Ahmedinajad will get yanked by someone upstairs before the damage he's doing is irreversible.

clazy

BTW, you want Said's "orientalism"? Just look to wishful thinking of the sort I mentioned above. Pretty ironic.

clazy

Re pressure, things like this provide leverage:
http://www.asiafinanceblog.com/asiafinanceblog/2006/07/iran_and_thaila.html

David

Clazy,

When I hear people suggest that Iran and “AmeriKKKa” are somehow morally equivalent as societies, it occurs to me that those doing so have no comprehension of what real fear is. I mean routine and intimate fear; when fear is cultural glue. Being afraid of what you might be heard saying; being afraid of dressing “immodestly”. Fear that the whole theocratic edifice might blow down because its foundations are so rotten.

clazy

Yeah, those images this week of the guys a with a "Western" haircut being forced by masked thugs through the streets of Tehran with a jerry can in their mouth were pretty ugly.

Andy

In todays Grauniad, the w/e magazine has an interview with Satrapi,apparently the film will be released on 25th April (it doesn't give much detail unfortunately).

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